from pop eater

American Idol' has been accused of both saving and destroying the music industry ever since it took over pop culture. Now, as a fresh influx of amateur singers attempt to become the next, well, Adam Lambert, last year's surprise non-winner steps up to defend the show that made him a phenomenon. Below, Lambert's thoughts on 'Idol,' pop stars and whether or not he's paid his dues (hint: He has):

"Obviously, if somebody comes from something that we all see, it allows people to get invested in that person. That's what's great about the show. You root for the person, they have a journey and they grow and they get better.

I think that's interesting, that makes the artist more three-dimensional to the audience at home. In these days, artist development is kind of a dying art, it's not something record companies really spend a lot of time doing. So in a way, what 'American Idol' does is create artist development -- but for the audience at home watching the process. I think that's great.

And I would argue with the sense that 'Idol' is responsible for manufacturing pop stars. The manufactured pop thing has been going on since the '50s and '60s. There's always been stories of that in the music industry. If anything, it shows these contestants chasing their dreams and going after it themselves, as opposed to be molded and branded.

I think after the show ends, then there's some molding and branding that goes on. But it also has a lot to do with what that person brought to the table. Maybe if you're a contestant who goes through 'American Idol' and you were lucky enough to be in the final positions and you're offered a record contract and you happen to not really have a strong idea of what you want to do creatively, then maybe you are a case of them kind of going, "well, OK, how about you do this?"

But then there are those of us -- myself included -- that have our own ideas, and are able to work in a team with these people. That's what I got to do and I was really thankful for that. There's maybe a misconception out there in the public that once you get through 'American Idol,' that you're puppeted around. That has not been my experience for one second.

Kris Allen isn't being puppeted around, either. We had very similar situations. He had a lot of input on his music that went on the album and got to co-write a lot of it.

What's interesting about 'Idol' is that when they do these back-stories it shows all these contestants paying their dues in some way or another -- some professionally as entertainers and some as people who work in a convenience store.

I feel like I paid my dues. I've been doing theater for ten years. I had a band, wrote music. I worked with producers and came up with demos and worked as a session singer. I feel like I did go through that school. I do have my own ideas."