Thursday, May 21, 2009

Everybody Loves an Underdog: Kris Allen Wins!!

It wasn't exactly David vs. Goliath on last night's finale of American Idol.

Both Adam Lambert and Kris Allen were worthy of standing side-by-side on that stage last night, as just under 100 million record-setting votes were tallied to decide who would be this season's victor. Both had turned in strong performances; both had large legions of fans behind them.
However, due to the judges' touting Adam as the heavy favourite from early on in the competition, and from much of what I'd heard and seen from the on-line pundits in the past few weeks, it seemed unlikely that Kris would be able to work his way out of the underdog shadow to steal the crown from Adam's capable hands.

But to compare the two was to compare apples to oranges. Adam Lambert, in his dark-goth clothing and jet-black hair, was an all-out rock singer who could hit notes a la Steven Tyler. From the performances I witnessed, he has one of the best rock voices I'd ever heard. When Paula called him 'iconic' on the final performance night, she was not joking. Adam Lambert, no matter what the final results, is destined for big things in the music industry.

Kris Allen? You could call him the exact opposite. He exuded a laid-back, innocently-sexy vibe, opting most often for faded jeans and button-down shirts, and he could usually be found with an acoustic guitar in hand, which blended well with his smooth, sweet voice. Man, I'm a sucker for a guy with a guitar. Especially one who looks as good as he does! Kris would fall into the-boy-next-door category. And I'll be honest - I wish he lived next door to me.

The one thing Adam and Kris seemed to have in common? I'm not sure the Idol stage has ever boasted two such sincerely nice, unassuming, well-mannered young men, which Simon Cowell complimented them on last night before Ryan Seacrest declared the winner. They truly were worthy of their fans' admiration

Despite my adoration for Kris, I was completely expecting an Adam Lambert win. And I would not have been disappointed or angry if his name had been called out as the new American Idol. On the final performance night, Adam had probably the highlight of the show with his new-age take on Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come". He absolutely tore that song apart - in a really good way.

That being said, Kris nailed the first round of the night when he chose to perform again "Ain't No Sunshine". He clearly out-shone Adam's "Mad World", and Cowell actually came right out and said, "Round 1 goes to Kris." After Adam's "A Change is Gonna Come", though, Kris' version of "What's Goin' On" didn't wow the judges. They told him it was a little too light, not quite up to the standards for that special night. Simon told him it reminded him of a bunch of guys sitting around with guitars strumming away in a light-hearted sing-along.

For me? His stripped-down, acoustic version of the Marvin Gaye hit was beautiful and poignant and wonderful. And give me that group of guys with guitars any day over the glam rocker.

Then both guys took on the Idol winner's single, "No Boundaries", co-written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardia. It was just meh for me. Neither one of them overly impressed me with it, but I think at the end of the day, it was a song meant more for Kris' style than Adam's. I wish they didn't end every season with the "winner's single" - it's always a little hokey, and ends it all rather anti-climaticly, I think.

I can't comment much on how last night's super-extended finale went, because I missed 3/4 of it, but I tuned in for the important part. After being joined on-stage by the remaining members of Queen, as well as the rest of the Top 13, for a spectacular rendition of "We Are the Champions", Kris and Adam stood together at centre stage and waited to find out who was #1.

When Seacrest announced Kris' name, I was absolutely thrilled! In one of the biggest upsets in Idol history, Kris Allen stole the title away from his strong competitor and claimed the American Idol crown! The look of complete shock and disbelief on Kris' face told the whole story. I think even he thought Adam was a given. When Ryan shoved a mic in his face, his first words were, "Are you serious? Are your friggin' SERIOUS??"

At the end of the day, I think Kris appealed more to the masses. His sweet, soulful image would win over the moms and grandmas watching at home, more so than Adam's guyliner and black painted fingernails. Either way, they both played hard and exceeded expectations. I think it's safe to say they both impressed and either one of them could have claimed the title.

But everbody loves an underdog. And I was so happy to see Kris win!!

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