Adam Lambert: Reviewing Our Review

Rocks Off would like to take this opportunity to address the hundreds of comments that Brandon Hernsberger's review of Adam Lambert's performance last Wednesday at the Hobby Center provoked.

First of all, Rocks Off is not homophobic, nor would we allow anyone we even suspected of being homophobic - or prejudiced against any other group of people, including the middle-aged - to write for us. One of the most important qualities a reviewer must have is an open mind, regardless of his assignment, and so anyone with that sort of prejudice (or any other kind) would be of little use to us.

But we do apologize if the review came across as homophobic or mean-spirited towards any other group. Like many other artists, gay and straight - Elton John, Freddie Mercury, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon - sexuality is an essential part of who Adam Lambert is as a performer, and thus what he does and sings onstage.

Many people believe he lost the 2009 American Idol title to Kris Allen for that very reason: That even though he had not yet come out as openly gay, his appearance and performances disturbed a number of conservative churches enough that they organized phone campaigns to ensure that Allen would win.

Several commenters have speculated that Rocks Off sent Brandon to the show with the express assignment to do a hatchet job on Lambert so we could get extra hits for our Web site. This is simply not true.

Even if we were, beyond the extra traffic anything with "Adam Lambert" in the headline is almost guaranteed to bring in, this is hardly the way we would have gone about it. We assigned Brandon the review because he has reviewed a number of pop shows for us in the past (Coldplay, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift) - some favorably, some not so favorably, but never with any kind of axe to grind.

Other commenters have speculated that based on what he wrote, Brandon may not have even gone to the show at all. This is also not true. We would never, ever even consider running a review by anyone who had not actually attended the concert in question; in this case, Brandon actually texted us from the show remarking on how good his seat was.

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Still other commenters pointed out that, whatever else was said, the review was lacking much in the way of musical analysis. Here, unfortunately, we have to agree. Rocks Off's reviewers are welcome to include commentary on any aspect of a performer or performance, up to and including politics, religion and sexuality should they see fit.

Many performers, hardly limited to Lambert, routinely address such controversial issues in both their songs and live performances. But our reviewers' first duty is to consider the music above all else, and to place those other things within the context of what happens onstage, and here we fell short.

It was an error in judgment, both on the reviewer's part and on our part as editor, and for that we apologize. Our music reviews should, and will, do exactly that - review the music.

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