We've labeled Allen this year's "dark horse" contestant and argued why Lambert is "change we can believe in." But now comes the real question of the hour: If Allen wins tomorrow night, will it be the biggest upset in "Idol" history?
James Montgomery: A Kris Allen Win Won't Be An Upset, It'll Be Democracy In Action
For about a month now, I have been telling anyone who will listen that Kris Allen is going to win "American Idol." People usually look at me like I'm crazy when I say this, and I'm not sure why.
There seems to be some sort of assumption out there that Allen is the underdog, and that if we were to derail the juggernaut that is Adam Lambert somehow, then it would go down in history as perhaps the greatest upset in "Idol" history. Again, I'm not really sure why this is. Last time I checked, isn't Allen the clean-cut kid with the voice tailor-made for Top 40 radio? Isn't he the everyman, the nice guy with the pretty wife and the good teeth? The kid who reminds most people in America of someone they know, someone they can relate to — someone whose lifestyle and appearance don't make large portions of this country squirm just a little bit?
That doesn't sound like an underdog to me. It sounds like the front-runner.
Which is why, when (not if) Allen is crowned the "Idol" champ on Wednesday night, it won't be some monumental shocker. It will be par for the course. Democracy in action. David over Goliath (or Giants over Patriots) this ain't.
Like I said last week, I don't necessarily want Allen to win, I just think he's going to. And the reasons I have for thinking that — Allen's likability, relatability and accessibility — are the same reasons I think he's anything but the underdog. The strange thing is how many people just don't seem to realize this, assuming instead that Lambert, who is certainly likable but whiffs on the next two, is going to win "Idol."
Glamberts ("Idol"-speak for "Lambert Fans") like to harp on his online popularity, his Google stats and the media obsession with his personal life. These things are all certainly valid indicators, but I think they only get you halfway. There are plenty of "Idol" viewers (I assume the majority) who don't populate message boards or read Entertainment Weekly, and who probably find something about Lambert off-putting and will gladly throw their support behind Allen (I'm trying real hard to not make a Red State crack here). And, again, I'm just going to assume that these people make up a larger portion of this country than the Glamberts do.
And I don't think I'm the only one who thinks this. Simon Cowell does too, which is why he campaigned so hard for Lambert on last week's show, urging fans to "take nothing for granted" and vote for him. And so do many "Idol" obsessives, like blogger Rickey Yaneza, who runs fan site Rickey.org. When I interviewed him about Cowell's remarks, he read the same thing into them that I did: There are two distinct groups of "Idol" viewers, and while one may be firmly in Lambert's camp, the other group (the larger one) might not be.
"We live in a different world online, because as far as I'm concerned — and I have stats for whenever I do a post about him, or how many people are searching for him on Google — Adam Lambert is pretty much a lock to win, and he's been that way for about a month now," Yaneza said. "But if you're not following the show as intensely as we are, well, then perhaps you don't know about him, so you don't vote for him."
So let's not go and crown Lambert the champ just yet. He's still got millions of people to court. Kris Allen already has them in his pocket. And when Kris wins, it won't be an upset. It'll be more of the same.
Gil Kaufman: A Kris Allen Win Would Defy All Known Rules of the "Idol" Universe
Forget singing, relatability, likability or accessibility. It all comes down to numbers. It always has on "Idol," and it will this year again.
My totally unscientific research points to a few key factors that have almost always predicted "Idol" winners, among them the amount of front-runner-related junk for sale on eBay (Lambert has a sickly commanding lead there), the amount of headlines that favor one of the finalists over the other (yes, we're guilty of a bit of that) and, finally, judge love.
Adam has been the apple of the judges' eye all season. They swoon over his dramatic reinterpretations of songs based on other people's reinterpretations. They call him a rock star (and even "rock god"). They repeatedly promised him a spot in the finals, and Simon Cowell even begged viewers to vote for him. He's the golden child to Kris Allen's redheaded stepchild.
Yes, Adam's not your "ordinary" finalist and, if he wins, he will certainly be the most original "Idol" champ ever. And yes, Allen is way more along the lines of the type of singer you could see winning "Idol," but unlike most finalists in the past, Kris has made it this far without raising his voice — no histrionic singing, no "And I Am Telling You" moment, no weepy backstory, no epic meltdown and redemption and, frankly, almost no love at all from the judges.
No matter what James tells you, Kris Allen is an underdog, and if you chart his slow, steady climb to contention, you will see that he's the finalist nobody saw coming until a few weeks ago. He's on the verge of stealing the title from the Anointed One, which has never been done.
Nobody doubted that Kelly Clarkson would crush Justin Guarini, ditto Fantasia Barrino and whoever she beat (Diana DeGarmo, had to look it up). And it may have been close for Ruben Studdard, but given the lovefest he skated through in season two, he was basically the gospel Adam Lambert.
In retrospect, we were foolish to think Bo Bice even had a chance against Carrie Underwood in season four. And while we're still scratching our heads over how he did it, Taylor Hicks didn't break a sweat beating Katharine McPhee. Though it seemed tight, we're thanking our lucky stars nobody thought twice about picking Jordin Sparks over that beatboxing dude (Blake Lewis, had to look it up too).
Which brings us to last season and the Davids. That might have been the only "Idol" final two that ever really seemed like a toss-up, with Cook beating Archuleta by a nose. What's it all mean? There are rarely any surprises on "Idol" finale night, so when the front-runner goes down tomorrow night, you remember I told you so as you're crying through your guyliner.
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