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Glambert II

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Anatomy of Kris Allen’s surprising win – How Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol. 

 

By NY Daily News 

———————–

His face was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. His name was on the back of Katy Perry’s cape. His performances were praised to high heavens by the judges, week after week.

And he just lost American Idol.

Right now, Adam Lambert probably feels the same way Tom Brady did after Super Bowl XLII or Thomas Dewey after the 1948 presidential election. His Idol victory seemed just as pre-ordained as the New England Patriots’ perfect season or the Chicago Tribune’s infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline. And yet, here we are, at the end of the night, wondering how Kris Allen managed to pull off the upset of a lifetime.

Here’s how.

Going into the finale, there was talk of “red state-blue state” politics at work, with Lambert’s painted fingernails, “guyliner,” and uncertain sexuality against Allen’s down-home, churchgoing sensibilities. Given the current political climate, that matchup appeared to favor Lambert, but a number of blue-state types may be “too cool” for Idol’s mass appeal, and unlikely to vote.

Still, it was music, not politics, that got Lambert and Allen to the finals, and while Lambert’s performances attracted headlines, Allen’s more understated style put him in position for the upset.

For all of Lambert’s hype, there were nights when his risks didn’t pay off. And when Lambert missed the mark, he missed by a wide margin. His performance of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” was termed “absolute indulgent rubbish” by Simon Cowell, and when he tackled Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild,” Cowell acknowledged that he could see where people would hate it. Even on critically-lauded performances like U2’s “One” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” his penchant for rearranging a melody to show off his range stood to rub viewers the wrong way. Lambert seemed to understand the problem, and chose his unassailable take on Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” for his encore performance Tuesday, but when it came to alienating viewers, the damage was done.

By contrast, when Allen’s risks didn’t pay off, they didn’t hurt him as much. Sure, his horn-heavy arrangement of Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do is Dance” fell flat, but it didn’t have the same potential to offend as Lambert’s missteps. And, when Allen stripped down Kanye West’s “Heartless” to its bare acoustic bones last week, it gave him the boost he needed to overtake early favorite Danny Gokey.

Gokey’s elimination provided the final key to Allen’s victory. For all the musical differences between Allen and Gokey, their personalities have a similar appeal. Both are worship directors at their respective churches, and have the same well-documented “Middle America” appeal. That church background also came in handy when it came time to sing the coronation song, “No Boundaries.” Panel member Kara DioGuardi, who co-wrote the song, may not have wanted to judge Allen on it because of the range, but thematically, it was right in his wheelhouse. When Allen took his turn with the annual ode to overcoming obstacles and persevering, you could almost hear the church choir in the background, a la “I Believe I Can Fly,” spiritual ancestor of every Idol winner’s debut single. With Gokey gone, Allen had the best hold on the spirit of the song…and on the spirit of Idol’s viewership.

Of course, in the long run, all this might not mean much. Lambert’s devoted following will serve him well on the charts, while it remains to be seen just how much momentum Allen will carry from his victory. Still, while the future may belong to Adam Lambert – and the past almost certainly does – this moment, for better or worse, belongs to Kris Allen.

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Written by hswei

May 22, 2009 at 12:32 am

Posted in Readings, TV Show

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