Kris Allen - AP Photo
Okay, it's a little embarrassing to admit that I even watch the show, but American Idol is one of those things my family and I can sit and watch together that almost everyone enjoys, to some extent. That and King of the Hill.
I find myself pretty well aligned with Simon Cowell on most of the performances, though not all.
Last night, the likeable,talented and (most importantly) non-scary Arkansas boy (Woo, pig! SOOO-ie!!!) Kris Allen beat out Emo Stepford Ken doll Adam Lambert, though Lambert clearly has a better set of pipes.
Lambert was just that much too far outside the mainstream to get the Boomer/Soccer Mom vote, IMO. He was sacry good, vocally, but otherwise... just a bit scary. As the brief final number with Brian May and Queen demonstrated, Lambert was the only one, of all the contestants, who could possibly hope to fill the shoes of Freddie Mercury. And that's all I have to say about that.
Kris Allen improved throughout the contest, and is actually extremely talented (a fact that I really hope is not overshadowed by Lambert's eerie, alien vocal gymnastics and showmanship, and the perception that HE, therefore, "should have won"). Kris Allen deserved to win. He has very broad appeal, can really sing, and demonstrates a remarkable nascent musical maturity and earthy soulfullness that eludes Lambert. Lambert is astonishingly gifted, but comes across as artificial, like a Vegas lounge singer. Allen is tremendously talented and somes across as just himself... the real deal. He is from The Natural State, after all.
The consolation, for Adam Lambert fans, is in knowing that Lambert will go on and do what he does just as if he had won. He is instantly recognizaeble, already a brand unto himself. The top spot matters not at all to his career.
Kris Allen, on the other hand, with a couple of bad choices or a lackluster debut album, could find himself the subject of a "Where Are They Now?" segment in a few years. He has great instincts, though, so I hope he can focus on making his career all about the music (like, say, James Taylor or Alison Krauss) rather than making it all about him and his image (like so many others).
Simon Cowell is gone next year, and I find the remaining judges so dull that, for the life of me, I can't imagine watching the show without him. In my view, if Cowell is out, they are better off going for a whole new set of judges with their own chemistry, rather than trying to play mix-and-match with the current set. I think they're done. Time to re-boot.