The warning signs have all been there in the past few months: A Max Martin and Shellback executive-produced record. Those brooding black and white promo photos. A Tove Lo feature.

Everything about Adam Lambert‘s grand return this June with The Original High feels spot-on…and now we know officially that the music is, too.

“Ghost Town” — which, yes, shares (basically) the same title as Madonna‘s new Rebel Heart single — is the first taste of Lambert’s upcoming LP.

And it’s probably not what you expected.

Everybody comes to Hollywood…

Surely Lana Del Rey would appreciate Lambert’s lyricism on this particular go-around, given the healthy blend of worldweary melancholy, Old Hollywood icons and religious symbolism (very Tropico) above a gentle acoustic guitar strum. Our hero is beaten down and deeply disillusioned offering a kind of chilling cautionary tale about fame: “I tried to believe in God and James Dean but Hollywood sold out,” he sings. “Tonight, Elvis is dead and everyone’s spread/And love is a satire…” A little darkness suits Lambert well.

The pulse.

Like that major drop into ’90’s House euphoria on Kiesza‘s “Hideaway,” the acoustic singalong sesh suddenly breaks into a woosh of throbbing club sound once the chorus strikes. It’s hypnotic.

The whistle.

It’s a year of pop whistlin’, isn’t it? This one is more ominous, like the Kill Bill whistle. Between Hilary Duff‘s “Sparks” and Glambert’s “Ghost Town,” everyone better know how to put their lips together…and blow.


That line most definitely would have been my AIM away message in middle school for weeks.

The voice.

Adam Lambert has the ability to unleash almighty, spirit-shaking falsetto yelps. Here…he doesn’t. Not really, anyway! This is a more grounded Adam, which is something he’s alluded to several times as a conscious decision on his part in recent interviews. And while the Rock God shtick is a huge component to Glambert The Superstar, this slightly more controlled delivery proves to be a very good thing…

The bridge.

There’s no one left in the world/I’m gunslingin’!/Don’t give a fuck if I go down, down…

Once Adam does decide to really blow, his powerful pipes pierce through the production to chill-inducing effect.(Actually, this part is sort of like Madonna’s “Ghost Town,” isn’t it? Not musically speaking, but in relation to Madge’s post-apocalyptic video? Can we make a mash-up happen eventually?)

So, “Ghost Town”: Is it an acoustic guitar ballad? A club anthem? A tribal chant? A subtle game-changer for male pop? Supreme Swede-pop? All of the above? Time will soon tell. “Ghost Town” isn’t readily definable, which is part of what makes it so intriguing — and certainly the reason why the song’s been haunting my speakers ever since it debuted.

“Ghost Town” was released on April 21.