Judgement Day: Pop Heaven or Hell? Adam Lambert’s “Trespassing”

Well hello Ladies and Gents! It’s time for another installment of Judgement Day: Pop Heaven or Hell!

Today Adam Lambert’s long-awaited sophomore album: “Trespassing” (in stores on 5/15/2012) is standing at the pearly gates of Pop Heaven waiting to find out what The Pop Gods have decided as it’s fate. Will it be allowed into Pop Heaven, banished to Pop Hell or simply left to wallow somewhere in Pop Limbo?

Now, before the verdict is revealed, I must admit that I may have said in the last instalment of Judgement Day that I was going to depart from the formulaic track-by-track album review. Since I started this blog back in November, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with lots of pop culture enthusiasts, be they fellow pop bloggers or simply fans. While I have yet to encounter every fan base, I would have to say you’d be hard pressed to find any fan group who are more devoted and supportive than that of The “Glamily” (also known as “Glamberts” and some as “Fanberts,” others just “Berts”.) I posted back in December 2011 about lead single “Better Than I Know Myself” as someone who had not always called himself a fan of Lambert’s and in the time since I would say that I’ve hopefully become at least a distant member of the Glamily and I’m confident that my fellow Glamberts would prefer I give “Trespassing” it’s due time and consideration.

Check out the Judgement Day: Scorecard and the track by track review, after the break…

The title track opens the set and immediately I’m floored. “Trespassing“, produced by Pharrell Williams, starts the album “balls out” and sounds like an iconic 70’s rock anthem brought onto the dance floor for 2012. Equal parts Queen (particularly “Another One Bites The Dust”) and Michael Jackson, you will probably be sing-humming and stomp-clapping along to this one for the rest of the day!

The onslaught of Glamitude doesn’t stop there as the album heads from one banger into another. Next up is the BRILLIANT “Cuckoo.” When performed live this track sounded very pop-rock but here it’s found to be a gorgeously produced dance track that exudes the 1980’s triumphantly and even defiantly. (Those vocal arrangements scream 80’s hair rock, don’t they?) I dare say, if “Cuckoo” doesn’t have its day at the top of the charts then there is something wrong in the world. I’m not being melodramatic.

Track three: “Shady” finds Adam once again channelling the King of Pop with the help of Aussie singer/songwriter Sam Sparro and American guitarist Nile Rodgers. Funky and reminiscent of songs like “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, this is a definite contender for single in my eyes, especially if radio does what it should and starts to move away from the barrage of David Guetta sound-alikes. Adam’s vocals are soulful and on point as he croons: “No I ain’t broken but I need a fix” and powerful as he goes on to snarl “Turn it up, Turn it wayyyyyy up, don’t stop the beat!” In case you weren’t paying attention, this track is FIRE!

The second (and current) single “Never Close Our Eyes” is up next. This track throbs with energy and emotion. It’s by some accounts a beautiful love song but otherwise applicable to simply living life to the fullest. Penned by Bruno Mars, Adam’s voice is tender and/or powerful when and where it needs to be. Having heard the other songs on the album, I do question this now as the second single choice but it does seem to be getting great buzz thus far and hopefully will be a hit and put this album on the map. Those harmonies and that soaring note on the chorus, though. Goosebumps!

Track four entitled “Kickin’ In” is beat-heavy but in a different way than anything we’ve heard thus far on the album. I would go so far as to say I haven’t heard anything like this song in pop music in recent years but it seems like it could have been a Justin Timberlake track. While it certainly references many genres and feels sort of familiar in parts, as a whole it’s produced in a very spastic way, once again by Pharrell Williams. This track has great energy and I can see myself dancing to it. On repeat listens it’s grown on me but remains one of my least favorites of the set.

The vocal pacing on the next song: “Naked Love” took some getting used to for me (the delivery felt so slow on those verses) but by listen #3 that vocal melody worked me over! Classic pop through and through, this Benny Blanco production is just too infectious not to love it. Like many of the album tracks, it has a certain 80’s or 90’s sensibility in the vocal melody and truthfully seems like the most obvious choice for a summer 2012 single. I can hear this blasting from the speakers of a convertible cruising in the summer breeze. While not a personal favorite, this song quickly went from Pop Limbo to Pop Heaven in a couple of listens!

Track #6, entitled “Pop That Lock” was another one that didn’t grab me right away. If you’re anything like me and think you’re not sure about this track, please put on some high quality headphones and listen to it at a bearable but somewhat overwhelming volume. There is something about the refrain of “If you’ve got the key then baby pop that lock” that makes me think of classic Madonna, though I’m sure others will think that’s ridiculous. Overall this track is pretty fun! “Werk, Bitch!”

The album is meant to have a light and dark component, like the yin and yang. While I don’t necessarily think it was meant to be divided so clearly, here (for the most part) the album starts to get both slower and moodier.

I reviewed the lead single: “Better Than I Know Myself” back in December. Nothing new here; Still head over heels in love with this song. Gorgeous.

Where the dub step breakdown has become a pop staple over the last few years, Lambert takes it to the extreme with track #8: “Broken English.” The track boasts intense, full-length dub-step production, making it one of the less commercial sounding tracks on the album. It has transcendent, soaring vocals, tight hypnotic harmonies and a breakdown that sounds a bit like Darren Hayes on a horror movie score. Experimental, Gritty and ever so beautiful!

In the next track, “Underneath,” Adam has written what could end up being the most breathtaking song of his career. Dark, emotional and atmospheric; it is a lyrical and sonic masterpiece in every way. (“Strip away the flesh and bone, look beyond the lies you’ve known, everybody wants to talk about a freak, no one wants to dig that deep, let me take you underneath…”) Imagine that Richard Marx wrote a confessional song about his dark side in the vein of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album – then imagine it modern. One of the most haunting and beautiful songs, ever. Period.

Adam ventures into territory a step closer to that on his debut album “For Your Entertainment” in the next song: “Chokehold.” It’s a step back toward a more pop-rock vibe but with very pop-forward production securing a cohesive fit with the other tracks from this era. It’s doesn’t stand out as a potential single, but does separate itself from the pack for being different and is a great song nonetheless.

Outlaws of Love” has been making the rounds for a while in live performances. The good news is that the recorded version of this anthem for “misfit” lovers is just as satisfying. This track should ring especially true to the LGBT community, particularly in this time with the fight for marriage equality in the U.S. Lambert cries out: “They say we’ll rot in hell, but I don’t think we will, they’ve branded us enough Outlaws of Love…” Heartbreakingly beautiful, this song concludes the standard edition of the album.

On first deluxe editon bonus track: “Runnin“, Lambert sings in his rarely featured low register over a strong, almost industrial beat. The build in the vocal melody on the chorus is phenomenal as Adam moves from lower to upper registers from line to line. The song builds overwhelmingly in intensity and has a certain triumph about it and has become an unexpected favorite. I would have included this track in the standard edition and made “Kickin’ In” a bonus track. My only complaint is the way the track ends in a flurry of blips and feedback. So very abrupt!

Take Back” wins the award for the least interesting track on the deluxe version of the album, which is probably why it was a bonus track. It’s a perfectly good song, but among the gems this album holds it comes off as the most ordinary and even production-wise, feels like the odd man out. It sounds like it could easily have fit on Pink’s last two albums.

We close with the gorgeous electronic lullaby that is “Nirvana“, where Lambert sings “We can escape.. to a higher plane.. in Nirvana.. stay where the dreamers lay” over a rippling beat. The synths, the bassline and the flawless vocal harmonies are enough to send me to another plane of consciousness. The track contains echoes of pop singer Darren Hayes, but is distinctly Adam. If Lambert was “Tresspassing” when this journey began, I think it’s safe to say that he’s feeling a lot more welcome here.

Here’s the Judgement Day: Scorecard showing how we rated the individual tracks:

Trespassing is in stores on 5/15/2012 and is available now for Pre-Order on iTunes and many other online music retailers!

It’s pretty obvious: Adam Lambert’s “Trespassing” is…

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66 thoughts on “Judgement Day: Pop Heaven or Hell? Adam Lambert’s “Trespassing”

  1. lv2bliberal says:

    PHENOMENAL album! My expectations were absurdly high, yet he managed to completely shatter them. Extraordinary talent. <33333

  2. lambertlust says:

    Love this review! Thanks so much!!

  3. outonpluto says:

    It’s brilliant. “Underneath” is for the ages and “Runnin'” is not far behind. The variety of tracks and his versatility are astounding. And his voice – that voice – what can one say – a bloody miracle.

    • While it’s always gonna be amazing vocals when it comes to Adam, nothing disappoints on “Trespassing”. The songs and the production are as strong as Adam’s performance. Total package! 🙂 Thanks for your comments!

  4. LisaW says:

    OMG wow yeah dont agree 100% but most of it for sure. Running was the biggest surprise and its making me kinda crazy, in a totally good way. Shady is amazing…..love it. Cukoo is much better than live so I definately like it much more. I called Nirvana a lullaby too!!! but I also feel its emotionally connected to OOL which reflects the sadness of reality today and a no where to turn feel whereas Nirvana looks forward hopefully, ending on a note that says we will find that perfect place for us……

    Great review thanks for your insights!

    • Ah! I definitely agree that “Nirvana” can be seen as a companion piece to “Outlaws of Love”.Thank YOU for your insights as well! I love receiving your feedback! 🙂

  5. Very astute, descriptive and positive critique of Adam’s album. Can’t find your name or twit name. Maybe it’s just PopMessiah ???

  6. cali50 says:

    Fun and thorough review. Be careful, Kickin In sneaks up on you!

  7. cali50 says:

    Great and fun review! Be careful, Kickin In sneaks up on you! 🙂

  8. rhett203 says:

    So far for me – favorites are Shady and Runnin’ – but that changes from moment to moment. Enjoyed the review. Adam Lambert put his heart and soul into Trespassing and it shows.

  9. Amen! Underneath turned me into a sopping puddle on the floor and I had to drive my car around the parking twice just to wait for the song to end; it’s tormenting and can bring out some long repressed memories, LOL 🙂 It should be staple in all shrinks’ offices across the globe. Broken English feels like s*x on stairs and Cuckoo is just pure pleasure. Nirvana takes to that other place and Chokehold holds you there. I am happy that Adam Lambert took his time to polish and perfect the album. Can’t wait to get my hands on the official CD next (?) week!

  10. Love your in depth review of what is quickly becoming my new fave album, despite the fact I’ve only heard low quality tracks ripped from a stream so far. I am so excited for release day when I can have A Moment with me, my Sennheiser headphones and HQ versions of these fantastic songs!

    My ranking of the songs may be swapped around a bit from yours (duuuuuude Kickin In is my jam, I chairdance like a mofo to it) but there’s not a single track that has me doing that instinctive grab for my ipod’s skip. My fave is usually the one I’m listening to right then. Until the next one starts playing lol. I do think that the bonus tracks are bonus tracks for a reason, they’ve got a more pop rock sonic feel, but are all still fully realized tunes. Runnin is especially intriguing with that warm lower register that Adam doesn’t use that often but when he does it is the sex, srsly.

    I enjoyed the hell outta For Your Entertainment, but it was more like a really fun mix CD. Trespassing takes things to a whole nother level dayum. It’s fully cohesive, with an undeniable and effective flow from start to finish, with inventive and layered production choices that make my ears happy and never once muddle that crazy awesome voice of his, which is front and center in every track.

    Apologies to Adam for the occasional mental whine at whaaaaat could possibly be taking so long, it was 100 million percent worth the wait!

    • Wow, Melissa! I loved your review in my comment section! 🙂 “Runnin”has really moved up in the ranks for me, and might be one of my tops if I were rating it now. Perhaps I need to review it once a week until I become less obsessed!! I should have replied to thank you ages ago (I missed a few) but sincerely do appreciate the comments and thanks so much for reading!

  11. Quest says:

    Runnin just hit me out of nowhere!!!!!! I was like whoa whoa what is that and why is it a bonus track. I disagree on Kickin In being left out…those beats are crazy, would have left out Naked Love or Pop that Lock preferably the latter. He has done sooo good on this album and its A+. Underneath is so haunting and beautiful…can’t wait to hear it live. Shady is just too good…this song is a masterpiece and so ic Cuckoo (so infectious)

    Thanks for the well thought of review…lets just hope the industry actual gives Adam a chance esp radio.

    • I admit, the first couple of times I listened through I didn’t realize that I had somehow not yet heard “Kickin’In” so my thoughts were also my very first impressions. I’m still warming up to it, but it’s growing on me! As for the industry, if the right singles are chosen there are many smash hits in waiting on this album. Fingers crossed!

  12. adamfan says:

    Absolutely love every song on the album. My favorite changes constantly. Nice review. I actually agree with you about Take Back but love Kickin’ In.

    • I’ve come around to “Take Back” but “Kickin’ In” is still my least favorite 😉 Thanks so much for the comments. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner!

  13. magsmagenta says:

    I’m still listening as I got back from work late last night, but I love what I hear 🙂

  14. […] KLICKA HÄR för att läsa Pop Messiahs recension: The title track opens the set and immediately I’m floored. “Trespassing“, produced by Pharrell Williams, starts the album “balls out” and sounds like an iconic 70′s rock anthem brought onto the dance floor for 2012. Equal parts Queen (particularly “Another One Bites The Dust”) and Michael Jackson, you will probably be sing-humming and stomp-clapping along to this one for the rest of the day! […]

  15. Whitepeony says:

    Great review! Thank you for breaking down these songs and providing some new insight. But dude, Kickin’ In is one of my favorite songs of ALL time–so much fun! The way the three levels of vocals enter and overlay after the intro is worthy of your best headphones, and the lyrics are a riot. Gotta love Eddie with his dirty mind and words that rhyme. Makes me laugh in delight every time. The first listen or two I didn’t get this song, but one listen on high quality headphones sent me over the edge!

    • I’m sure it will grow on me more and more! I promise to keep my mind open to it’s charms.. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and for your feedback! 🙂

  16. Laura Ramsey says:

    It’s hard to pick a favorite but I’m leaning toward Runnin. I heard someone say “i didn’t know he could sing in that ‘voice’. lol He can sing anything, but I do love that lower register. He’s a beast of a singer and performer. Love him!!

    • LOL! I don’t think it’s the first time we’ve heard him in low register, but it’s definitely not common on the album! It’s a great track, though! He really can sing anything. 🙂

  17. jools says:

    thanks popmessiah, great review. Kickin In, Broken English and Chokehold all work me over, but I think with so many slices of pop heaven its easy for people to have different favourites – not like there are any obvious howlers that everybody agrees should be in pop hell!

    Love the legend ‘omg i just berted’! Definitely worthy of a spot in the…ahem…..’glamily’

    • It’s true! I’ve noticed there are lots of different opinions on what the best tracks are. Luckily, there’s something for everyone on this album! (It’s everything, after all!). Glad you found the legend on the scorecard amusing! I wanted it to be customized for the Glamily 🙂 Thank you for your comments!!

  18. wshupnasta says:

    I loved your review. Broken English and Chokehold aren’t on your legend though.

    • Hi there! Glad you liked the review! The scorecard is something new I’ve been doing (that still needs some work, methinks) but the idea is that the songs can fall between the “Pop Hell” and the “Pop Heaven” columns depending on how much I enjoyed them. The symbols in the legend are to help specify over all the ‘berting, which are my standouts and which I didn’t care for at first that are growing on me. 🙂 hope that helps!!

  19. LynKrue says:

    Nice review! This album’s a must-buy. Pop That Lock reminds me of the uplifting anthems that Katy Perry / Bonnie McKee have turned into pop gold. And Underneath….verklempt. My favorite is the one that’s playing.

    • Let’s hope these songs are pop gold for Adam as well! (We know they are, but we need radio to see it too!) I tend to fall in love with whatever one I’m listening to at the moment as well, but “Underneath” is definitely the one that breaks my heart the most (in a good way)! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  20. Janne says:

    Such a wonderful review! Thank you! Love all the songs on this album, Naked Love being my absolute fave – it’s definitely single-worthy. Just one little thing …. Sam Sparro is Australian.

  21. heidik57 says:

    I LOVE your rating system, OMG I’m berting and flailing, made me ROFLMAO. I agree “Underneath” is a masterpiece and needs to be part of a movie score now. The album is so much fun and so good, Adam Lambert is goin to POP HEAVEN YAY!

  22. Deb says:

    OMG I love Chokehold. It’s sexy and dark and who hasn’t been in those shoes? Thanks for your review. I think you captured the true spirit of the album. As for Kickin In, give it another listen. It’s infectious. Peace and Love.

    • I don’t ever skip it, so while it may be my least favorite – its far from bad 🙂 I’m sure I’ll love it as much as the others eventually!! Thanks for your feedback 🙂

  23. Lilacs in May says:

    Thank you for your review! My faves right now seem to be Runnin’. I cant get that song out of my head. Its a gem. Kickin In is another fave. And Pop That Lock. Maybe the fact they are different is what I like. Underneath just rips your heart out. I hope Adam gets to perform that on a big stage sometime because that song is killer. Trespassing (the album) far exceeded anything I may have been expecting. Anxiously awaiting my box set so I can “Turn it up, turn it up, turn it waaaaaayyy up!. “

    • Far exceeded all of my expectations as well, and sealed the deal on my bert-i-ness! Sorry I didn’t respond sooner! I try to get everyone but sometimes one slips past me! I sincerely appreciate the feedback! 🙂

  24. I love this review (and tweeted it to Adam). I’m usually skeptical when it comes to new music and rarely download an entire album. But I love almost every song on Trespassing. My favorites at the moment are Shady!, Underneath, Nirvana & Cuckoo. And although Kickin’ In sounds like an MJ version of a Gloria Estefan song, it’s growing on me as my family dances around the house to it! LOL In fact every song is growing on me! Thanks for the great review! 🙂

    • Hi there Hanna! Thanks for your comments and for tweeting the review to Adam! It would ve very very cool if he read it or acknowledged it but he’s a busy guy! 🙂 Also, I thank you for helping me with a couple of edits I missed in the wee hours of the night when I was trying to finish. Always appreciate a helpful set of eyes!

  25. lovingadam1031 says:

    I have to give you a BRAVO for your interesting very detailed analysis of all the songs. It’s funny though how there are so many different opinions on each song as to what is considered a favorite on the album. I’m being honest when I say I love every song on the album but have a few that I cannot sit still when they play. Naked Love, Cuckoo, TSP, Pop That Lock, Kickin In, oh heck all the uptempo ones. I have two stand out favorites of the ballads or slower tempo, one is Outlaws of Love and Underneath (masterpiece) both are so full of deep emotion that the listener can’t hold back tears if they have ever been hurt in love or denied the right to love someone. I wish radio wasn’t so uptight about playing ballads because if radio really wants listeners over 16 they need to be playing these two ballads and I guarantee these songs would be hits on the charts. If they’re not made singles it won’t happen. Sadly, the music business isn’t looking for these type songs as much as they did when Elvis was making music because he stole our hearts with his ballads.

    • Agreed re: radio and ballads! I feel that pop is moving away ever-so-slowly from the dance pop we’ve been hearing for the last 5 or so years. It’s far from dead, but I think artists like Adam are smart to have many different vibes and genres in their albums because if things start to shift there are alternate single choices that may work. I don’t think that ballads are dead, but they are a harder sell right now! I’m sure a time will come when the ballad begins to rule radio again 🙂 Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that day to come soon! Thank you so much for your feedback!

  26. […] Pop Heaven – JUDGEMENT DAY: POP HEAVEN OR HELL? ADAM LAMBERT’S “TRESPASSING” Track by track review: “In the next track, “Underneath,” Adam has written what could end up being the most breathtaking song of his career. Dark, emotional and atmospheric; it is a lyrical and sonic masterpiece in every way. (“Strip away the flesh and bone, look beyond the lies you’ve known, everybody wants to talk about a freak, no one wants to dig that deep, let me take you underneath…”) Imagine that Richard Marx wrote a confessional song about his dark side in the vein of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album – then imagine it modern. One of the most haunting and beautiful songs, ever. Period.” […]

  27. Pam says:

    Loved your review. I love every song on this album, especially Underneath, Runnin, Cuckoo, Shady, well ALL of them. I just hope Adam will get the respect and recognition from the music industry that he so richly deserves. His talent is mind blowing. I’m a Glamily member for life!!

  28. Great review, and it seems pretty universal, haven’t read a bad one yet, which makes all the fans delirious with joy !
    I think Shady will be a huge windows down stereo pumping cruisin the beach summer song … such a refreshing throwback.
    I was happy that Underneath grabbed you the way it did me. I cannot remember a song with such raw emotional power and I’ve been around a long time 😉 Crying by Roy Orbison came to my mind first but even that sounds frivolous compared to this. Then it hit me, Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday, a bit before my time but I know of the impact that had in the very early stirrings of the civil rights movement. Underneath is a masterpiece and a vocal tour de force.

    • Agreed. Most of the reviews seem to be on the same page (although I’ve seen one so far that wasn’t entirely enthusiastic.) I would love to see Shady as a single and a big hit! SO funky!! Underneath is still my favorite. I’ve shed many a tear, let me tell you! 🙂 Thanks for the comments!

  29. […] Pop Heaven – JUDGEMENT DAY: POP HEAVEN OR HELL? ADAM LAMBERT’S “TRESPASSING” Track by track review: “In the next track, “Underneath,” Adam has written what could end up being the most breathtaking song of his career. Dark, emotional and atmospheric; it is a lyrical and sonic masterpiece in every way. (“Strip away the flesh and bone, look beyond the lies you’ve known, everybody wants to talk about a freak, no one wants to dig that deep, let me take you underneath…”) Imagine that Richard Marx wrote a confessional song about his dark side in the vein of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album – then imagine it modern. One of the most haunting and beautiful songs, ever. Period.” […]

  30. ralph says:

    Thanks for the review…..This Album is so far better then anything out there right now…Adam is about to kick down all the closet doors in Hip Hop, Pop and Soul music industies… An openly Gay Artist with the Album of the year…. If this album wins the Album of the year Grammy, an earthquake will happen in the music industry. Adam will show the world, that great ART comes from all people, no matter there race, color, or preference…GO ADAM..

    • PREACH Ralph! I love everything you had to say! hehe.. you got me all hyped up! This could be a landmark album in more ways than one (it already is for just being fantastic)! Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  31. […] Pop Heaven – JUDGEMENT DAY: POP HEAVEN OR HELL? ADAM LAMBERT’S “TRESPASSING” Track by track review: “In the next track, “Underneath,” Adam has written what could end up being the most breathtaking song of his career. Dark, emotional and atmospheric; it is a lyrical and sonic masterpiece in every way. (“Strip away the flesh and bone, look beyond the lies you’ve known, everybody wants to talk about a freak, no one wants to dig that deep, let me take you underneath…”) Imagine that Richard Marx wrote a confessional song about his dark side in the vein of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album – then imagine it modern. One of the most haunting and beautiful songs, ever. Period.” […]

  32. […] abaixo o “Julgamento do Dia” do Pop Messiah Blog, mostrando como eles classificam cada uma das faixas de “Trespassing” e em seguida […]

  33. Jill says:

    Love your review! But I gotta say, after one initial “Okay, this is weird,” play, “Kickin’ In” is now running my life and making my decisions for me. I cannot get done with that song!

  34. Pam says:

    Great review – this entire album is a masterpiece and definitely Pop Heaven. I pretty much agree with your assessment — Kickin’ In is my least favorite song, but I have to disagree with you on Take Back, though. Somehow that song snuck up on me and hit me over the head. I’m now lovin’ it.

    • Well, I can mirror that Pam! I love “Take Back” now but I’m still not a big fan of “Kickin’ In” 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments and for reading!

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