The "American Idol" contestants have been narrowed down to three, and seemingly everyone has a favorite to win. But here in the MTV Newsroom, the heavy favorites are power-piped Adam Lambert and strummy, chummy Kris Allen (sure, there are also some Gokey-ites out there too, but we just can't seem to locate any of them).
It's a battle of opposites: flashy showmanship versus no-frills songsmithing, and it could make for the most exciting "Idol" finale in years. The debate has raged all week, so we decided to have two of our most vocal "Idol" fans — MTV News Rock Editor James Montgomery and Senior Writer Gil Kaufman — square off in a spirited point/counterpoint-style debate about just who will win "American Idol," and, most importantly, why.
James Montgomery: Kris Allen Is Going To Win "American Idol"
Let me preface this by saying that I do not actually want him to win — I want Adam Lambert to, for reasons I covered in great detail here. (Actually, I wanted Allison Iraheta to win first, but that ship has sailed.) Sadly — or, perhaps, predictably — it's just not going to happen. For reasons that have very little to do with actual talent, Allen is a shoo-in to be crowned the season-eight champ. Here's why:
Saying "American Idol" is a singing competition is a lot like saying "The Apprentice" is reality TV. Sure, in theory it is ... but everyone sort of wink-winks about it. Despite Simon Cowell's repeated insistence, "Idol" ultimately isn't based on singing ability — it's based on likeability. Relatability. As a singer, Allen can't hold Lambert's sequined jockstrap. But that doesn't matter when you get down to the nitty-gritty.
Kris Allen is about as likeable and relatable as they come. He's a good-looking, sorta-sensitive, guitar-strumming, God-fearing everydude from Arkansas. He has a pretty wife. He is humble. He has nice teeth and good hair. You would let him watch your kids or wash your car. He seems like a solid, trustworthy guy — like a combination cowboy/firefighter, or a youth minister (which I think he actually is). If you think about it for a few seconds, you'll probably realize that you know someone exactly like him — and you are not alone. Everyone in America knows someone like Kris Allen. Or at least, more people know someone like him than they do Adam Lambert.
And that counts when it comes to "Idol" votes.
Secondly — and this is perhaps my biggest (only) knock on Lambert — Allen has a voice that's tailor-made for radio. Listen to any top-40 station (or even any album-oriented rock station), and you could hear his voice in most of the songs. Shoot, his takes on "Falling Slowly" or "Ain't No Sunshine" could be on radio stations today. I dig Lambert's pipes, but I can't think of anything current or commercially friendly that he'd be able to sing on. And that matters, because "Idol" voters generally listen to the radio, then vote for who reminds them of the songs they hear on there (see Hicks, Taylor; Cook, David).
Finally, Allen is peaking at the right time. Like Jordin Sparks a few years back, he flew under the radar for a bit, then started winning over the crowd, eventually emerging as the champion. He is hot now. Lambert has been hot since the beginning of the competition, to the point that people may be growing tired of the constant praise showered upon him by the "Idol" judges. Danny Gokey got hot way too early — he peaked, and is now slowly making his way back to earth. I wouldn't be surprised if he got the boot on Wednesday, which means we're on for Allen/Lambert in the finals. Let the best man win. Or, you know, not.
Gil Kaufman: Adam Lambert Is Going To Win "American Idol"
Momentum is a funny thing. Adam Lambert has had it almost since the moment he stepped on the "American Idol" stage. Like Ruben Studdard, who in season two cruised through the finals with nary a bad word said about him, Los Angeles theater veteran Lambert has had a pretty smooth ride so far.
But that's not why he's going to win "Idol." He's going to win "Idol" because, eight seasons in, regardless of what America may or may not think about Lambert's "flamboyant" background and outrageous style, he's the most exciting, unpredictable and original performer to ever grace the show's stage.
And with all the headaches Americans are facing every day — swine flu, foreclosure, bank failures, gay-bashing Miss USA contestants — couldn't we all use a bit of over-the-top, glitzy entertainment right about now?
Lambert will win because the judge-sanctioned musical duel with Danny Gokey never materialized and while Kris Allen is a fine singer — and, from all I gathered while visiting his hometown, one of the nicest guys on the planet — he doesn't have that "it" factor that a winner needs to make it in the increasingly picky music market.
Don't get me wrong — Allen is poised to have a nice career singing Jason Mraz-ish songs that college kids will eat up, but Lambert has the chance to make a truly landmark "Idol" album that might help kick-start the franchise after it suffered its first ratings plateau since season one.
Lambert will win because he's consistently brought his "A" game, has strived to be original, has not let the whisper campaign about his sexuality interfere with his victory march and because he's inspired a truly rabid cult of "glambert" fans who hang on his every glittery-eyelid flutter.
Yes, it will be harder to pigeonhole him into a radio category than it will be for Allen, but given the head of steam Lambert's built up since the finals started, barring a catastrophic onstage collapse, the contest is Lambert's to lose.
Of course it's ostensibly a singing competition, but even the producers (and Matt Giraud) admit that at this point it's a popularity contest, and Lambert is this year's entire prom court rolled into one neat package.
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