Carlos Santana, Keith Urban and Cyndi Lauper.
These legends made this year’s American Idol finale a real-time must-see for millions. But let there be no doubt: The night belonged to Adam Lambert.
Those of us who’ve been watching for months knew Lambert’s coronation was inevitable. So certain was his winning that I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer who relished the time he was relegated to the Bottom Three. Other than that, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the 27 year-old. “I Kissed A Girl” singer Katy Perry had his name monogrammed on the back of the cape she wore during her performance on last week’s show, and Entertainment Weekly gave him a solo cover a few weeks back.
How then did Lambert possibly lose out to the sweet but merely mediocre Kris Allen?!
As Lambert proved again and again during the two-part finale, he is on another level. Tonight alone, he was a supernova, way upstaging semi-twinkling star Allen when the two joined Queen on “We are the Champions.” And Lambert’s appearance in a black leather, Flash Gordon-esque costume and platform boots performing with KISS was easily the two-hour event’s most memorable moment. Kudos to the producers for booking such a legendary act that so perfectly complemented their theatrical, makeup-wearing rock star.
Perhaps that was the problem.
My mother, a pre-Kindergarten teacher’s aide and super Idol fan, told me post-finale that while she believes Lambert is the better singer, “I just couldn’t deal with the black nails and that kinda look. He’s a gorgeous guy — beautiful face and everything. But there was something I didn’t like.”
Please note that this is the same woman who voted for David Cook and Taylor Hicks. In fact, I don’t think she’s ever voted for a runner-up. (FYI, Mom didn’t get through last night, but not for lack of trying: “I gave up after 79 tries” dialing for Allen.)
Me? I should know better. After all, I came close to sitting in Paula Abdul’s judging chair. A magazine editor who nudged along the careers of budding pop stars from Britney and Christina to Usher, Backstreet and ‘Nsync, I pride myself on knowing how to pick ‘em. Yet I was all about Archuleta, Aiken, and, tonight, Lambert.
That’s not to say Lambert won’t be the bigger story post-finale, as Archuleta and Aiken were, along with Chris Daughtry, who dropped his first name and relegated Hicks to the Whatever Happened To . . .? file.
Also, Lambert shouldn’t reach for the polish remover: Androgyny has been a rock star asset for ages, from the gender-bending Bowie to Boy George to current pop tartlet Lady Gaga, who’s probably the biggest pop artist on the planet right now. So keep sharpening the eyeliner, Adam — but remember that your album has to be as interesting as your image.
P.S. Look for Allison Iraheta to do a Daughtry and shine brighter than her fourth-place finish suggests!