I think the New York Times said it better than I ever could. (That’s why they’re the New York Times and I’m not.)
“It’s possible that American Idol viewers’ selection of Kris Allen over Adam Lambert says something about the mood and mores of the country, that viewers are too conformist to anoint a sassy, androgynous individualist. Then again, maybe not: Mr. Allen’s victory may merely reflect the voters’ conventional taste in pop music…Mr. Allen never fell out of character as the humble, earnest country boy from Arkansas.”
Oh, and besides Jordin Sparks (who is still from a Red State in the West), every single Idol winner has been from the South. It’s a hard trend to beak.
I don’t hate Kris Allen. If you’ve been following the show along with us, you know that I grew to love him. But I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed at the outcome. But the above quote shows that there were a lot of reasons Kris won, and some are more valid than others.
Personally, I think it comes down to more how Adam lost than Kris won. At the beginning of the Top 12/13, I don’t think anyone thought Kris would ever beat Adam, so here are a few items of interest.
Adam became too safe of a choice:
Yes, the wildly flamboyant and sexual Adam was actually too safe of a choice, the complete opposite of what a lot of people may cry about today, that America was being homophobic. (I think that while some Kris voting may be due to this very thing, it will turn out to be a minor blip on the bigger scale.) The bigger problem, and this was way more subconscious, is that everybody assumed Adam was going to win. Simon went on Ellen and said so. Entertainment Weekly did a friggin’ cover story on him most of the way through the competition. The judges kept on praising him until it felt like the end was preordained. Everybody said the same thing. And Adam, well, he did stop surprising us right around disco week. He was consistently passionate and bombastic, a competent performer. And he was humble about it. But after a while we could already imagine the song before he sang it. Which is a great trait, but not for the attention-craving America. America wants to reward the underdog, to keep things interesting, and Adam stopped being dangerous. He stopped reaching for the “holy shit” factor.
Adam was not Danny:
Last week, we already saw that Adam had lost his considerable lead over the rest of the competition when we were told that only one million votes separated first place and second place, while the remainder was lost on a losing Danny Gokey. But where did Danny’s votes go this week? They went to the other good ol’ American boy, Kris. And that pulled Kris ahead. If we’re going by DialIdol, Kris did not beat Adam by very much, so I’m surprised that some of Danny’s votes may have actually worked their way into Adam’s number — perhaps those who liked Danny for his voice and didn’t give a shit about his story or spirituality, but at the same time were originally afraid to vote for Adam — but I’m willing to bet that the majority of them went to Kris or disappeared outright. Kris was more Danny than Adam could ever be, whatever that may mean to you.
Adam strutted too much:
Yes, I actually believe that if Adam had performed “Mad World” like he did originally, sitting down and letting the music and his spoke speak for themselves, instead of descending a staircase into way too much fake fog, he could have won. He definitely could have gotten Simon to agree that he won all three rounds on Tuesday instead of merely two, but he had to indulge in his theatricality. Which is fine. But I think it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, just like he got into the Bottom Two for performing “Feeling Good” in roughly the same way. But this is saying that his performance tactics are bad. No, they’re not. They’re fucking great. But not everybody is like me, and, for some indiscernible reason, there will still be millions of people out there who outright hate musicals and drama. (Then why are they watching television? I’ll never understand it.)
But let’s get down to the bottom of this: Adam is a much better singer than Kris will ever be. You know this to be true. He was damn near perfect. Oh, and that scream you Adam haters consistently complain about like a broken record? That is a perfect rock wail, a glorious sound you can find in all of the best rock ‘n roll music for the last 50 years. A release of sheer force, emotion and performance. All your complaints really tell me is that you don’t listen to rock music, and you wouldn’t know a good rock singer if it kicked you in the nuts and spit whiskey and glitter in your eye.
But Kris is good, and he’ll make a good album for 19 Entertainment. As I said, “his is the face that launched a thousand glittery posters taped to a teenage girl’s walls and ceiling, right next to her dolphin art.” He has a long career ahead of him.
And not to sound like I’m justifying a loss or acting like the battered wife/husband, but Adam losing might be the best thing to happen to him. As I was fine with the competition going either way (with me, of course, leaning toward an Adam win), I considered Adam’s future, and while he is still to cut an album for 19 Entertainment, he will be free of much of the Idol machine that tends to crush people. He has a better chance of making the album that he wants to make (for one, without Kara’s crappy song), he can more easily pursue acting on stage and screen if that is what he so chooses, and he can be a music star and not have to live up to or live down the label of being an American Idol, a label that often turns a lot of people off in the actual real world. And yes, I think if they make a movie version of Wicked, they’d be insane not to cast him as Fiyero. Some have said he would overdo the role. 1.) From the clips of him understudying as Fiyero, he does it just fine, thank you. 2.) If he does overdo it, it’ll definitely help define a horribly underwritten character in an overrated musical. He could potentially save the entire second half of the story.
I think that’s about it. What other stuff can I say to wrap this up?
Had Allison been in the Top 3 instead of Danny, perhaps Adam may have had a chance to grab her votes and win in the finale had she been voted out. The number of votes that would have gone to her despite her losing would have been far greater than her Top 4 votes, which in turn got Danny out in the actual Top 3.
I think Kara is a great judge and should stick around. She is the only one besides Simon who gives actual friggin’ advice to the contestants, advice that is mostly useful, instead of just being judgmental. She knows what she’s talking about, and I don’t know how that strikes most of you out there as “annoying.”
This is without much hindsight, but I think the finale was definitely one of the best they’ve ever had. And yes, they have done awards in the past. If you thought this was new, either you haven’t watched the show for too long, or you’re an idiot. But I will leave most of the finale talk to my wife. But I do have something to say to the Black Eyed Peas. If you guys really have that “future sound” and are “so 3008,” then why does your #1 hit single sound like techno music from 15 years ago?
I am, above all else, extremely grateful that the top two contestants were exciting, interesting, evocative and [mostly] original. It’s tough to get that on Idol, so despite my misgivings with the results, glad that this show can still surprise me. This was one of the best top 12/13s in the show’s history, with far more talented individuals holding on and only a few non-talented ones eking by. It’s nice to be able to pick on a singer for subtleties instead of just simply declaring that they’re bad, and sparking discussion, even on a show as cookie-cutter as this, is never bad.
And now, it’s time for So You Think You Can Dance, which is, in a lot of ways, a better overall show than American Idol. But if FOX’s decision to also create a fall version of the show right after this summer season ends up overplaying and killing the entire program, I’m going to be pissed.
I’m going to summarize my feelings about Adam Lambert’s strange un-victory per a text message I sent to my friend Magen last night after she had long since gone to bed over in DC:
“Fsdfhsdfgsdfshvgyugsdufh! I die. That outfit was bananas! I was clearly not mature enough to handle that fantasy duet between Adam and KISS because all I did was squee and figdet and wonder where the hell those epaulettes and those fucking boots came from. This was a great finale. KISS. Queen. Allison and Cyndi lauper. Amazing. Even though Adam didn’t win, I cannot wait to buy tickets on his first tour. He is now free to make the gayest, rockingest record ever, and no one will stop him. Glambert saved. Stevecrest out.”
As my husband mentioned above, I think Adam is better off without the Idol win, although I’d have liked him to have it because, well, I love him. He and Kris will both sell records and will both have long careers, and I can have no ill-will toward someone like Kris who is so humble that he conceded to America that he thought his competitor deserved the win more than he did. Both men are winners in my book, really. So now, let me talk about how thoroughly pleased I was with the finale, despite an outcome that didn’t actually go my way.
First of all, I came late into the Idol game, having only watched since season 6, so the Idol awards were odd to me, but I actually found them pretty enjoyable over all. I never thought I’d be so happy to see Norman Gentle aka Nick Mitchell, and while I hated the idea of him being on Idol, he is funny. And weird. And I’d definitely see his cabaret show, so I’m glad to be reminded of why he’s likeable. I was not happy to see Bikini Girl, especially because she’s so tan now that she looks like she’s been living in South Florida since she was 22 and is now 60. Someone needs to give her the message that pale is the new tan . . . and someone kind of did, actually. Kara. Although I’m bothered by Kara’s pop culture solipcisms, I like her as a judge, and now I like her even more as a singer. Bikini Girl cannot sing at all by comparison and I now know that Kara also looks better in a bikini than bikini girl. She has some damn hard abs, that Kara DioGuardi. I would not be surprised if Bikini Girl has either tried to kill herself or developed an eating disorder after being upstaged by a woman in her 30s who sings better and has a nicer body than she does. As for Tatiana Del Toro . . . I do not know if that was real or not and I don’t care because watching security guards chase that crazy bitch around the stage was funny as hell!
- I love that Allison Iraheta got to sing one of my favorite songs ever, “Time After Time,” with Cyndi Lauper. I also love that Cyndi plays the dulcimer. She just gets more amazing every damn day.
- Kris Allen and Keith Urban are very similar in that they both have scruffy facial hair, play guitar, have a country twang and have blonde wives. I liked this duet because it proved that Kris Allen can easily transition into a country-rock artist if he ever wanted to.
- Kris + Adam + Surviving Members of Queen = truly spectacular way to end the show. This is the point where I kind of stopped caring which one of them won because I saw that they had such an amazing camraderie while singing “We Are the Champions.” It was clear to me that these guys were having the fucking time of their lives, and that’s exactly what I want to see on Idol. Plus, I enjoyed watching Adam touch the guitarist several times during the performance, as though he couldn’t believe he was singing with fucking Queen. That’s probably what I would have done if I were singing with Cyndi Lauper.
- But, of course, there was no greater fantasy duet (although, really, not a duet) than Adam Lambert in his King Henry VIII-from-Space outfit with the blinged out epaulettes and the giant gold platform boots he clearly borrowed from Gene Simmons’ closet singing with KISS. Magen was right; I straight up died. I mean, this performance was just the cat’s fucking pajamas for me. I had to cover half my face with a blanket because I was so excited that it was incredibly difficult to not ruin the whole performance with squeals of joy. I don’t even like KISS all that much, but Adam singing with KISS I FUCKING ADORED. I mean, this was a perfect moment for him and he performed the hell out of it, as he does with everything. If I had to pick a favorite moment from this performance, though, it would be when he delicately raised his eyebrow in innuendo when he sang the line “Me and the boys will be playing all night.” Oh, I know, honey. And I wouldn’t have you any other way.
- At first, I hated the fact that the whole American Idol gang was going to sing Pink’s “So What?” as I adore Pink and never want to hear her stuff sung by anyone else, but I think this was one group number that worked really well. It had a ton of energy and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.
- I do not dislike Megan Joy, but she was kind of very not good in her duet with Michael Sarver over Steve Martin’s banjo music. Moreover, while I’m sure Steve was happy to be there, I don’t think he was happy to hear “Pretty Flowers” sung the way those two completely oversang it. My fantasy duet for that song? Dolly Parton and Anoop Desai.
- Speaking of Anoop, I loved that he and Alexis Grace got to do Jason Mraz right by singing the intro solos to “I’m Yours.” That said, this group performance of the song with Mraz was way better than when one third of the Top 36 tried to sing it back when there was a Top 36.
- Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah? Strangely disappointing. Although I should note that during this number, I sang a bit of “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago to my cat. And I changed the words to be about my cat. That’s how uninteresting this number was.
- The minute Fergie came on, I screamed, “SING ‘BE ITALIAN’!” because she’s playing Sereghina the Whore in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Nine and I all kinds of love her super minor-keyed version of a song that, in the stage show, is very bright and somehow not about molestation at all. Here’s the Nine trailer, so you can hear it and be just as excited as I am:
- But once the Black Eyed Peas came on, I became very frightened of their strange cybertronic zebra dancers. Why were they putting their feet in will.i.am’s crotch? Not okay! (I bet that was choreographed by Shane Sparks, though.)
- I’ve already talked about Adam’s KISS outfit, but in case you didn’t catch it, I fucking loved it. I die. I channel Rachel Zoe and I die.
- Alexis Grace got to wear two pairs of very sexy over-the-knee boots. She is one hot mama.
- Another hot mama? Adam Lambert’s mom, who gets a million extra cuteness points for wearing armwarmers!
- I was very embarassed for Megan Joy’s pink hot shorts during “Glamorous.”
- Oh, Lil Rounds. No one knows how to dress you. That top with the strange leaf-like skirt just accentuated your huge booty, and not in a good way. I do not understand why everyone is just a step away from making you into Josephine Baker, as you’ll never, ever be as good of a performer as she was.
- Allison looked amazing tonight. Staight up.
- I like that Anoop went for a seersucker jacket as if to say, “I’m from the South and you will all deal with my desire to drink sweet tea from a mason jar, bitches! Get me a fucking mint julep!”
- Janice Dickinson was totally trashed throughout this whole show, or at least she looked that way.
- I want my legs to be as shiny and toned as Fergie’s.
- Matt Giraud looked his best during his Santana number. I think Abuelito shirts are really a good look for him, and they work with his obsession with cubano fedoras.
- It was very bold of Rod Stewart to pair the Coach leather that is his skin with that faux Burbury jacket.