In case it was ever in doubt, rock crooner Adam Lambert professes to be a born performer.
Long before he electrified "American Idol" audiences with soaring renditions of Queen and Tears for Fears hits, Lambert was a child stage actor, appearing at age 10 as Linus in a San Diego Lyceum Theater production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
"I just remember the first time being on stage in front of people, being nervous but getting such a thrill from the applause and the attention," said Lambert, 28. "And I think I was hooked from there on out."
Lambert recently sat down with "Nightline" at The Kimberly Hotel in New York City to discuss his recent work, his "Idol" success and some of his own musical idols, from Johnny Cash to Madonna.
Here, Lambert talks about some of the music that belongs in his personal dream jukebox, and why.
"Like a greatest hits Bob Marley, like 'Exodus' or one of them. I remember distinctly being out in the summer by the pool during, like, middle school and high school, and my parents would, like, blend up some margaritas or have some beer or something, and chips and salsa, and Bob Marley, and just floating out in the pool. That's, like, a distinct memory. So now if I'm in vacation mode, I have to listen to Bob Marley."
"Bowie's been a huge influence on me. ... I remember early on, my dad pulling out the 'Diamond Dogs' album, and the cover alone just grabbed my attention. I think I was probably around 12. And he was, you know, laying, it's like a painting of him kind of laying, half-dog, half-man. It was just the weirdest thing I had ever seen. I was fascinated by it.
"And then my dad would play the title track and it was spooky, it was creepy, you know, he had the spoken word element ... and it was really eerie. And I remember my little brother and I would be sitting on the couch when my dad would play it, and my little brother would get really freaked out by the, like, the howling and everything, it would scare him. And I thought that was pretty cool, that my dad was able to scare my brother with a record.
"So pretty much, to sum it up, if you can freak someone out and bring that kind of emotion out of somebody with a song, you're doing something right."
"When I was kid, I remember playing 'Vogue' by Madonna over and over and over again. And ah, you know, something about the beat was really cool, and Madonna, visually, was on TV all the time and I thought she was just so beautiful. And I remember the spoken-word section with all the Hollywood starlets and stars; I didn't know who half those people were. And so I would hear these names and I would be like, 'Who is that?' I think she says Greta Garbo and Monroe -- I thought she was saying Ann Monroe, and I don't know who Ann Monroe is, but at the time, that's who I thought that was. A lot of the names I got wrong and as an adult, I went back and looked at it and went, 'Oh, that's what she was saying, I see.'
"When I first met Madonna, well, the only time I've met Madonna... I just, I mean, she walked in the room and I went, 'Oh, my God.' Like, I kind of whimpered or something came out of my mouth, I don't know what it was, and I was like, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm like really intimidated right now.' And she was like, 'Why?' And I'm like, 'Because I love you.' And, um, you know, she called me out on it. 'Yeah,' she said, 'so love equals intimidation for you?' And I said, 'Yeah, most of the time, it pretty much manifests itself that way.'
"She was very playful and she kind of teased me a little bit, but I played back and it was, we had, like, a nice little kind of, like, cheeky banter going on that I was really happy that I was able to be on that page with her. I thought that was pretty awesome."
"I would say if I had to pick a turning point on 'Idol,' I think when I did 'Ring of Fire.' There were certain people -- including Simon Cowell -- that thought it was crap. You know, a lot of country purists really did not get it, but then there were a lot of people who were, like, 'Whoa, that was different. We weren't expecting that. That's not 'Idol'-ish. We've never seen anything like that.' The lyrics are great, I mean, they're sexy and they're kind of universal and they don't feel like country lyrics to me. They're actually very dark and kind of powerful. So, thanks, Johnny Cash."
"I think Lady Gaga is great and is changing pop music and bringing back a certain rock 'n' roll spirit, swagger to the game. This new song 'Speechless' I think is just great, because I think it's a departure from what we're used to hearing from her. And I think it's definitely, it's a throwback vibe. It's like Carol King, Elton John, very, like, 70s singer-songwriter, which I think is a good look on her, because we hear all this really contemporary dance music from her, so it shows her range."