Silver Chips Online

America's loss

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
May 25, 2009
When 23-year-old Kris Allen was named the eighth American Idol Wednesday night over 27-year-old Adam Lambert, my jaw dropped to the ground. Stepping closer to the TV in disbelief, I gripped the black box, waiting for Ryan Seacrest to yell "April Fools!" But as the name "Kris" flashed onto the screen, reality hit. Hard.

Putting my love for Lambert aside, I believe that both guys deserved to be in the top two seats. Talented and friendly, Lambert and Allen had the "it" factors that could potentially sell records. They were the best of the Top 13 contestants, and they earned their high standings in the competition. While Allen had a great sense of musicality, Lambert could "sing his face off," according to judge Randy Jackson.
Kris Allen (left) won the eighth season of "American Idol" over runner-up Adam Lambert (right). <i>Picture courtesy of FOX.</i>
Kris Allen (left) won the eighth season of "American Idol" over runner-up Adam Lambert (right). Picture courtesy of FOX.

But to me, Lambert's "it" shone brighter and bolder than Allen's. In terms of who was fresher and more unique, Lambert won hands down. His glam rock style is different from anything we hear today. Allen's acoustic sound, on the other hand, has been already seen, already done.

Though Lambert is more unique, I do understand that Allen's voice and music may have more "listenability" and appeal. He sounds mellow and safe, conservative and soft. Allen is the "guy-next-door;" Lambert is the coyote-howling, glam-fabulous "guyliner."

Yet this is exactly what bothers me the most about Allen's win. I believe that America is unable to accept radical and extreme Idols, preferring those who are more traditional. Across the years, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood have all been nice and safe "American Idol" choices. Ruben Studdard, the personable and cuter contender of Season Two prevailed over Clay Aiken. Aiken was doubtlessly the better singer, but in 2003, he was the more extreme choice.

Although Lambert and Allen's voices played a role in the final vote, I believe that America also took image into account. I know for a fact that Lambert's image, consisting of black nail polish and punk-rock clothing, alienated many conservative and older voters, in additional to many male viewers. In contrast, Allen's boring jeans and white T-shirts gave him a sweet and cute image that charmed and enticed.

Mad as I am that America did not realize Lambert's talent, every situation, including this one, has a silver lining. As runner-up, Lambert is not bound by the "American Idol" contract like Allen is. He is now free, and able to sign deals, contracts and records without the show's limits. Just as former Idol Chris Daughtry lost, but is now far more successful than fifth season winner Taylor Hicks, I predict that Lambert will have a similarly successful fate despite his this loss. He may have lost the battle, but he has not lost the war. Lambert can take lesson from Daughtry and keep on fighting: It's not over.