First, thank god American Idol is over.
I don’t recall every being so disgusted with a television show. Let me start by saying I am not a true American Idol fan. I got involved this year, I think, because of absolute and utter boredom with the rest of television. But when I saw Kris Allen early on before the final 13, I knew he was a winner. So I kept tabs on him.
The producers and judges of American Idol should be ashamed of themselves. Last night’s finale results show was a nightmare. It was like a bad variety show. The producers forced Kris and Adam to perform in an endless parade of solos and duets and it all seemed like “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll”. Adam, of course, played the part of Marie in drag. It was very “Shakespeare” circa 1570 when women weren’t allowed to be actors so they slapped makeup and a dress on a man and had him play the part.
From the final performances on Tuesday the judges and producers all but picked Adam as the winner. Wednesday night’s finale had music that was all geared toward Adam’s strengths – screaming. Adam is nothing more than a theater queen (not that there’s anything wrong with that). In fact, I feel badly for him. He has a great voice but nobody is telling him how to use it. You can see the look on his face in every song he sings. He’s just waiting for that moment in the song where he can scream his bloody head off. He’s been performing on stage since he was ten years old. There may be some great part in the future for him, like maybe the revival of “Rocky Horror” on Broadway. I mean, he’s already got his own costumes and make-up that he wears daily so the budget could be slashed to pieces.
So the producers had Kris and Adam singing a duet of “We are the Champions” by Queen (how appropriate) so that Adam could scream his way over and above Kris’s voice. But for those paying attention, Kris held his own. The producers went so far as to turn Adam’s microphone up and Kris’s microphone down so that even when Adam wasn’t screaming you could barely hear what Kris was singing. But if you really listened, he was belting it out the best he could even in the harshest of conditions.
The manipulation by the producers continued beginning with the end of Tuesday night’s show when Ryan Seacrest told the television audience to extend the end time of the show if they were recording it. They planned to go over. Low and behold on the built in cable schedule that is part of my digital cable system, American Idol was scheduled from 8:00 pm to 10:07 pm. These online cable schedules are done several days (usually a week) in advance. Seven minutes over schedule. They planned to go seven minutes over. So they have what normally would be a two hour show to announce the winner of a singing contest. The actually “announcing” or “anointing” takes about 30 seconds. And they plan to go over???. It sounds to me as if when they originally planned all of this out, they pegged Adam Lambert as the winner. Did they originally intend to have Adam screaming for the last seven minutes?
When the announcement was finally made, and thank god when the finally did it they didn’t drag it out and further once the two contestants stood under the “dimmed lights”, Kris was the winner. Ryan Seacrest immediately called him the dark horse who pulled off a miracle. Nice, huh? I usually think Seacrest is OK and give him the benefit of the doubt, but that was just bad taste. Kris had almost no reaction. And rightly so. He knew the judges and producers had already planned on Lambert winning. So he had nothing left inside. By this point, he was physically and mentally exhausted and probably was just hoping to get some semblance of normalcy back in his life.
If you watched the very last seconds of the show, Kris was seen hugging his wife. It was quick and the camera pulled away almost as soon as it got the shot. But Kris wrapped his arms around the love of his live and we got to see him, for only a split second before we were distracted to something else, Kris weeping as he buried his face into the neck of his wife. He had finally won, it was finally over, and this mild-mannered, kind, gentle, young, old soul could move on to the next phase of American Idiot. They will parade him around; make him perform stuff he doesn’t want to perform, and squeak every penny out of him that they can, while he, in turn, will receive comparatively, nothing. His ass, and voice, belongs to Idol for the next 12 months.
And speaking of music he doesn’t want to sing, what is up with that awful, horrible song supposedly written by Kara DioGuardi called “No Boundaries”. If by that she means she and the producers have no boundaries, then yes, I agree. How can you have the judge of singing contest write a song that the performers must sing and be judged on in the finals. The song was so bad I don’t think anybody could have sung it well. It’s crap. But it was certainly geared more towards Adam Lambert.
Kara “Please think I’m relevant” DioGuardi needs to go. She has offered absolutely nothing to the show, the judging, or the commentary. She is almost as insignificant and irrelevant as Paula Abdul. At least Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell are in the music industry and have been for a long time. They know talent. They know what works and what doesn’t. And while they don’t always agree with each other, Randy and Simon are at least believable.
So was Kris Allen really the underdog? Not in my mind. I think about it this way: of the two finalists which one could I listen to for more than 5 minutes without wanting to stab my own eardrums. That would be Kris. I went to iTunes and downloaded several of Kris’s song and burned them to CD for use in my car. Kris’s songs are very easy to listen to and he has great voice, a great sound, a great quality, and a great interpretation of the music. All without gimmicks. Adam Lambert, on the other hand, can’t get through a song without screaming. Who could listen to an entire CD of Lambert screaming. If the time comes, that should be the name of his debut album of Broadway show tunes – “Lambert Screaming Broadway”. Adam is touted as a rocker. And while his voice lends itself to that kind of music, and while Adam tries to play the part of a 70’s “glam” rocker, I don’t think you can call someone whose entire musical background stems from local musical theater a “rocker”.
Further, Kris Allen can play, among other things, the piano and the guitar. He can also write his own songs. Adam Lambert can only sing what other people wrote. He can’t play it, he can’t write it. So what is an American Idol?
I picked Kris Allen out of the pack early on. I’m NOT saying I have some gift, believe me. I picked him out of that pack because he was adorable. So cute, so sexy. And what red-blooded American gay male wouldn’t want to watch Kris Allen sing love songs to him through a high definition 47 inch flat screen. I’m on fool. Adam Lambert may be “interesting” but I wouldn’t want to take him home to my mother.
What started as a little celebrity crush back in January or February morphed into an honest respect for this quiet and shy old soul in a 23 year old artist’s body (and a hot body at that). No controversy, no skeletons in the closet, and a real, honest, good relationship with a family that respects and supports him. When we saw Kris’s father well up with pure joy and pride as he welcomed his son home during a brief break from Idol, we saw a glimpse of who Kris Allen was, how he was raised, and how this somewhat introverted young kid was growing into a real man through his music.
I do wish Adam Lambert all the best, I truly do. I hope he can get some good advice and follow it. Do more songs like “If I can’t have you” that showcased his true vocal talent without the gimmicks. I hope he eases away from his signature screaming and learns to express himself musically and vocally without the hype. That would indeed make him a true American icon, as opposed to an idol.
For Kris Allen, what can I say but Congratulations. You are a true American icon. I believed in my gut that you could do it.
I believe Kris found himself very much outside his comfort zone. But he found a way to speak to the audience without losing who he was and without selling out. Kris Allen was never a dark horse. And if American Idol were to ever release actual vote totals, we might actually be able to prove it.