Kris Allen wins American Idol after a two-hour finale proving Adam Lambert deserved it
But Kris Allen's surprise win on American Idol tonight felt especially odd because it capped a two-hour finale that made the case for runner-up Adam Lambert as the flashier star, the better singer and the more confident performer.
I can guess what critics like me will say tomorrow: That legions of middle-of-the-road fans who made third-place Danny Gokey a contender found the married Christian singer-songwriter a more appealing vote than the ambiguously gay glam rocker.
They'll recall the last time a religious heterosexual faced off against a finalist everyone assumed was gay -- Ruben Studdard vs. Clay Aiken in the show's second cycle -- and conclude that Middle America wasn't yet ready for a gay Idol.
And I already got a few calls earlier today swearing that the phone lines for Lambert were jammed so badly supporters couldn't get through to vote (this is the theory Aiken fans still use to explain his puzzling loss).
I'm not sure I buy any of that. I said a couple of weeks ago that the show's own overt cheerleading for Lambert might do him in, and I think it was some combo of all that that put the capper on his chances.
But Wednesday's finale proved the show's most powerful argument for Lambert yet, with the bionic-voiced wonder holding the stage with Kiss and Queen, stepping into the shoes of Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Freddie Mercury with effortless, crystal-shattering ease.
Short-term, the Allen vote may work for Idol, providing a surprise result few professional prognosticators -- including this one -- foresaw. But it also handed victory to a very good singer who was not the brightest superstar-in-training on the stage.
Allen may yet surprise all of us who jumped on the Lambert bandwagon (excluding my Team Idol pal, music crit Sean Daly, who called for an Allen win long ago).
But I have a feeling we just saw another Aiken/Studdard head scratcher, where the guy who eventually makes the biggest mark lands, inexplicably, in second place.