Tomorrow we crown a new American Idol. But the real winner is . . .?
Tonight millions of Americans will vote in an election that will best the number of ballots cast for most U.S. Presidents. Granted, there are fewer restrictions: In the battle for American Idol, voting is via phone or text; one needn’t be 18 years or older; and the electorate may vote for their candidate as many times as they like or are able to while the polls remain open.
So who will be the next American Idol? Duh: Adam Lambert.
Despite a late-innings rally, the sweet, talented but kinda boring Kris Allen will lose handily to Lambert in what will be the most lopsided final since Fantasia wiped the stage with teen cage bird Diana DeGarmo back in Season Three.
Still, it’ll be a fun show to watch, thanks in large part to the theatrical rocker with the black nail polish and unconfirmed sexuality. (Earlier in the competition, EW.com and the Los Angeles Times, among other outlets, inferred that Lambert is gay, but he played it coy during last week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story iview: ”I know who I am. I’m an honest guy, and I’m just going to keep singing.”)
But here’s the real question: Will Lambert easily transition into a bonafide pop star? Will he become a pop star at all? Or, after the confetti is cleaned up and the obligatory summer Idol tour is as distant a memory as Season Five champ Taylor Hicks, will the flamboyant fave end up on Off-Broadway in The Rocky Horror Picture Show? (Hold on a minute — that fate suited former Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis just fine: He was (shockingly) nominated for a 2009 Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for 80s mock rockpera Rock of Ages, which recently upgraded from OB to the Great White Way. But then, Maroulis didn’t even make Season Four’s Top Five.)
The truth is, Lambert certainly has what it takes to make it outside of the talent show. But if it’s longevity we’re talking about, then my money’s on Allison Iraheta, the pink-haired dark horse who came in fourth. Her rendition of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” was a season-stealer that should have had her finale-bound. The star-making moment rather reminded me of that time, way back in Season One, when Kelly Clarkson first revealed her range on “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman”.
Last Saturday, I caught Clarkson’s no-frills but plenty of thrills set at New York radio station Z100’s Zootopia. And despite what this week’s tabs will no doubt say about her rather plain appearance (next-to-no makeup, unstyled hair, and less-than-flattering figure), she outshone the energetic Black Eyed Peas and their oddly costumed dancers. Why? Because she doesn’t need gimmicks — her songs and voice were the show.
That’s why, like Chris Daughtry, another Idol who didn’t come close to winning the crown but a year later won a Grammy, Iraheta will be runner-up with the career. So long as she makes the right record, the precocious, more marketable teen will best likely winner Lambert where it really counts: on the charts.