This season on American Idol, early on in the competition, I latched onto a quiet, unassuming young man named Kris Allen. There was something about the way he delivered a lyric, the rawness with which he sang a melody, and the gentle twists he gave a song, that resonated with me.
With his victory the other day, Kris becomes the first-ever American Idol contestant that I’ve ever supported from start to finish. As you can see, I’m a happy camper.
Yet I can’t also help but feel badly for runner-up Adam Lambert, whose undeniable talent and polished sense of personal style won the American public over, but not enough to clinch the victory over the scrappy underdog Allen. Lambert was all but expected to run away with the title of American Idol, and I’m sure his loss was quite a blow, despite the brave face he put up.
I can understand the bitterness of Lambert supporters; I’ve been there. I know what it’s like when a singer who I deem superior loses to one who I deem inferior. Taylor Hicks over Mandisa or Elliott Yamin? Fantasia Barrino over Jennifer Hudson? Jordin Sparks over Melinda Doolittle? To a certain extent, Ricky Braddy could’ve been this year’s American Idol if only on the basis of sheer vocal prowess. Let’s not forget that while American Idol is a singing competition, it is a popularity-based singing competition. As we’ve learned in the past, however, victory in this competition is no indicator of immediate – or long-lasting – success. Ruben Studdard dropped an album, Love Is, a few weeks ago, and the Velvet Teddy Bear’s sales aren’t looking very impressive. Elliott Yamin’s Fight for Love debuted at #26 last week, a far cry from the #3 entry of his self-titled debut. Even Mandisa’s Freedom performed a little less than True Beauty. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We all hope our favorite singers in these competitions do well enough to have solid careers after the show, but we know the industry – and the fans – are fickle and rarely forgiving.
If someone I supported was robbed, it’s only human nature for me to say he was robbed. Adam’s fans are merely voicing out their frustration. Me, I just say, congratulations, Kris, because you have the title, and good luck, too, because you have to deal with that sappy saccharine single. (There are No Boundaries to which Idol producers will sink to milk an inspirational coronation song dry.) Congratulations, Adam, because you don’t necessarily have to deal with that single, but more importantly, many doors have been opened up to you as a result of your exposure on American Idol.
The competition is over. Let’s support our favorite singers and help build them long-lasting careers. That’s what matters now.