Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Showdown: Adam Lambert vs. Kris Allen! Who Will Win American Idol?

Well folks, it's that time again! American Idol has reached its final two episodes. Yet another season of controversy and huge debates is but a day away from being behind us. And yet there is one still battle raging between two camps. People who support the GLAM MAN who people insist is the second coming of Elvis and well to be blunt, EVERYONE ELSE! By the way, since Ryan Seacrest thought it was suitable to point out Adam's flare for GUY LINER, it must be socially acceptable to call him out on it! But I will try to restrain myself whenever possible. What we have here are 2 talented performers on 2 different ends of the spectrum. One comes with HIGH DRAMA, the other comes with instrumental ingenuity and toned down performances. It was pretty obvious which way the judges were leaning tonight even though they seemed to be supporting both of them. We'll just have to break it down and see if we agree! Before we get into what songs were sung on American Idol tonight, let's do a little stroll down memory lane of how the past 7 Season Finales panned out! (I promise to be brief unlike in prior seasons! But skip to next section if you don't care!)

American Idol Season 1-7 Finale Summary

Season 1

Winner: Kelly Clarkson
Runner-Up: Justin Guarini (Sideshow Bob)
My Pick: Kelly Clarkson
My Season Rank: 1st
(for being the first and producing 1 of the 2 best talents in the show's history)

Season 2

Winner: Ruben Studdard
Runner-Up: Clay Aiken
My Pick: Clay Aiken
Season Rank: 5th
(Season 2 is when the show became a ratings powerhouse. But for me, I had already lived through Season 1 and nobody was going to top Kelly Clarkson's spectacular season 1 run in my mind. It's still a tough chore!)

Season 3

Winner: Fantasia Barrino
Runner-Up: Diana DeGarmo
My Pick: Fantasia
My Season Rank: 7th
(I mean, did you watch that season? To say that Fantasia was the best talent to come out of that season is not saying much!)

Season 4

Winner: Carrie Underwood
Runner-Up: Bo Bice
My Pick: Carrie Underwood
My Season Rank: 2nd
(I haven't ever enjoyed this show as much as I enjoyed season 1 and 4. Carrie, obviously the other great talent to come out of this show!)

Season 5

Winner: Taylor Hicks
Runner-Up: Katharine McPhee
My Pick: Taylor Hicks
My Season Rank: 3rd
(Yeah maybe Taylor shouldn't have won, but what a great season of talent. Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, Phil Stacey, Taylor, Elliott Yamin and Katharine McPhee all having success on Broadway, Country Music, TV/Movies, R&B albums you name it. But none have matched Chris Daughtry's Success)

Season 6

Winner: Jordin Sparks
Runner Up: Blake Lewis
My Pick: Jordin Sparks
My Season Rank: 6th
(Yet another waste of a season. Wasn't this the season of Sanjaya? Ugh. Again Jordin wasn't the greatest but she was a brighter spot in a lackluster season. But even Idol at its worst can't get worse than CRAPTASIA SEASON 3!!)

Season 7

Winner: David Cook
Runner Up: David "The Artichoke" Archuleta
My Pick: David Cook
My Season Rank: 4th
(I enjoyed this season purely for poking fun at Archie. Well, that and that I thought they found a great talent in David Cook. Definitely the best Male talent that has won so far. And I rank him 3rd amongst the Idol winners)

For anyone keeping tally, I have a great streak going. I'm 6 for 7 and still unsure how Ruben beat Clay in season 2 (not that it matters now since they're both essentially off of the map!). Where, you wonder do I rank Season 8 in all of this madness? I'm not so sure right now. For me, this season will always be remembered as the year when Idol showed its cards. When they clearly manipulated the Top 12/13 and shoved down our throats who they wanted to do well in the competition. But it will also be the year that showed Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta fight against those odds. But most of what I will remember about season 8 is the constant shrieking in my ear of the man that everyone compares to the deep voiced King of Rock ELVIS PRESLEY (Besides crazy outfits, I'll never understand the comparison). Right now, I'm leaning towards ranking this right above season 6 and 3 in the scheme of things. But let's wait until the season is over to make any rash decisions!

The Final 2 Recap
3 songs tonight: Contestant's Pick from their past library of performances, Simon Fuller (American Idol's creator) picks a song for each of them, and they must take on the dreaded and drearily awful American Idol Song co-written by Kara DioGuardi. Ouch! Here we go!

Adam "Game Oooooooon!!" Lambert

Adam's Pick: "Mad World" by Tears for Fears
Simon Fuller's Pick: "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke
The Awful American Idol Song: "No Boundaries" by Kara DioGuardi, Cathy Dennis, Mitch Allan

Okay, besides the highly comical "game on" high five between Ryan and Adam, how did Adam do tonight? Eh, ups and downs for the guy. I remember his original "Mad World" performance being a TAD better than this version. The dry Ice and the long coat and the rising out of the stage antics were all great and all but man was I bored to Tears (for fears?)! It seemed slower and that he was trying to make it even MORE dramatic. I don't usually say this about Adam but I think he UNDER-performed! I'm sure his fans will defend him until the end, but I think he should have went back to "Tracks of My Tears" for his encore performance. Definitely was his best. Maybe he wouldn't have been able to re-create it as perfect as it was that time. But reminding people of that performance may have sealed the deal for him. But, maybe he doesn't need the help of his best performance.

Simon Fuller's pick worked out much better for him. Tough to find any bad things to say about the Sam Cooke classic itself "A Change is Gonna Come." It's a great song and Adam sang it really well. The first verse I was with him as he kept himself toned back just showing enough of the higher octave to let you know it was there but not being overbearing with it. Ugh, then the 2nd verse happened. I just don't understand the appeal of singing an entire verse in that octave and then doing runs at a level only dogs can hear. Okay, maybe a little lower than that, because I was able to hear him land one pretty rough note in that higher register. But, if you take the song as a whole, Adam really showed what he is all about. And love it or hate it, that's him! His fans will have a hard time finding a fault with that performance. And I think there are enough people that were scared by his alleged "bottom 2" scare to ensure his hardcore fans will be texting and dialing their thumbs off all night anyway! (another case of manipulation since they never actually said he was in the bottom 2...but they do that EVERY season)

There aren't many words to describe "No Boundaries". I think I need another blog to rank the Idol songs over the years. It would be a tough task! Granted, I'll give the songwriters some credit, they are restricted with what they can write about. Even Kara acknowledged to Simon's grunting of certain lyrics that the song is pretty cheesy. The Idol song is all about Inspirational cheese. I really can't say Adam OR Kris did fairly well with the song. Adam took charge of the song and tried to make it powerful and meaningful. Along the way, he hit some rough notes here, there and everywhere. Yikes. The judges didn't even bother judging Adam on this performance but rather the entire season. There's not much else to say about it!

Kris "Please don't Remember I forgot the Words!" Allen

Kris's Pick: "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
Simon Fuller's Pick: "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye
The Disastrous American Idol Song: "No Boundaries" by Kara DioGuardi, Cathy Dennis, Mitch Allan

I will agree with Simon. Kris's best moment of the night came early. He changed up his performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" for the better. And it was pretty good the first time! The first step was putting him front and center on the piano instead of the keyboard. He opened up solo and then brought the band in for his jazzed up rendition of the tune. You could just tell Kris gained loads of confidence throughout this competition and he was enjoying every moment of that performance. Much better than Adam's encore performance.

I thought Kris did a stand-up job with his rendition of "What's Going on". Yeah, we've seen him bring out the conga drums, box drums, bass and acoustic guitar on stools scenario before, but Kris also knows to play to his strengths. The band tends to consume his vocals so he went light and acoustic tonight. Simon thought it wasn't big enough for a night like this. I disagree. That is who Kris is. That being said, if we're going to judge from round to round, Adam's Sam Cooke take will probably be the one people remember.

And back to Kara's crapfest of a song. Remember that confidence I spoke of earlier for Kris? It all seemed to go away when he stood in front of a mic with no instrument, and the full band kicked in. The song swallowed him whole. And the worst part? Yep, he sang part of the chorus too early. You would think that I wouldn't have been able to pick up on that with it being only the 2nd time I've heard it. It was written all over Kris's face. Well that, and he stopped mid sentence and then 2 lines later sang the same lyric again! That being said, the judges again did not judge Kris on his performance of that dreadful song. And Repetitive Randy and Kara both acknowledged that the song was too high a key for Kris to really show his stuff. (they wouldn't let him change the key?!?!)

So Recapping the rounds:
Round 1: Kris 1, Adam 0
Round 2: Kris 1, Adam 1
Round 3: Kris 1, Adam 1 (both flawed performances, too tough to call who did better!)

Yikes, I still don't know what I'm gonna do with this pick! I guess we should get on with it!

The Pick

Whew, I have a lot riding on this! My reputation for picking Idol winners at stake. Right, so not really much on the line here. I may as well just make a pick. Let me give some final thoughts on the contestants before we go into our list of questions to help us decide!

Adam Lambert - A favorite since the Hollywood rounds, impressed people early with his stunning vocals and locked in his loyal fan base. Each week he would put his impressive, if not annoying, vocal range on display. Some weeks he would annoy with his new versions of tunes ("Ring of Fire", "One"), other times he left people speechless with amazement ("Tracks of My Tears"). He is definitely the favorite to win American Idol this season. But there is also a large group of viewers that will do anything in their power to stop it from happening!

Kris Allen - Entered the Top 13 as an afterthought after impressing enough fans in the semi-finals with his Michael Jackson "Man in the Mirror" performance. Yours truly had him counted out and picked to leave the competition in the first week of the finals. But each week, he impressed more and more as he grew in confidence as well as displaying more and more of his talent. He, for the most part, changed up songs for the better ("Heartless", "She Works Hard for the Money") and other times displayed a sensitive side with beautiful vocals ("To Make You Feel My Love"). He is definitely an underdog to win American Idol this season but has rarely made any mis-steps along his journey.

Yikes, both seem like appealing directions to go with this final pick! Let's move to the questions!

Who do I want to win? Allison Iraheta - So, I guess Kris by default
Who haven't I been able to get on board with this season, despite my best efforts? Adam Lambert
Who got a cover story on Entertainment Weekly before the end of the season? Adam
Who do I think everyone whose favorites were voted off already will vote for? Kris
Who do I think is most likely going to win? Adam
Then why haven't I just picked him yet? Because I don't want to!
But don't I want to keep the streak alive? Yeah, but I have this sneaky feeling that we might be in for an upset!
So do I go for the safe choice or go for broke? Well, if I knew that answer I wouldn't still be doing this!

ARRGH!! Okay enough of this. It's time to make my pick! DRUMROLL PLEASE! .................................The winner of American Idol Season 8 shall be! .....................................................



That was really painful people! But I guess I just don't see it going down any other way. Even Simon declared that they found their WORLD STAR. I personally don't see it. And I look forward to changing the radio station anytime I hear the shrieking shrills and picture that tongue sticking out at me. I really can't lose here. If Kris wins, sure I'm wrong with my pick but I get to be as surprised as everyone else!

Similar to what I said when I picked Taylor Hicks in season 5, Love him or not, when you think back on season 8 you will remember it as the season of ADAM LAMBERT, Adam's make-up, Adam's Eyeliner, Adam's screaming, Adam making headlines, Adam reminding the Elvis generation of their LEGEND again (I'm telling you, still confused by this!), Adam's racy pictures all over the internet, Adam, Adam, Adam, blahdam, blah, blah....

In closing, I will say this. How about Carrie Underwood rocking the stage tonight?! How awesome was that? Hopefully she'll be back for the finale as well. Don't forget to set your DVRs and TiVo's to go over. Ryan reminded us twice you know! As always, I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings, I will see you after the results and you won't hear me say this very often.............

I hope I'm wrong.

This blog can also be read and discussed on Gather.com Come check it out and throw some votes my way if you have spare time!


Ian said...

I think Kris just might pull off the upset. After all, he did outperform Adam tonight and I had a hard time getting through when voting for him. I totally missed the fact that he messed up the lyrics to that crappier-than-usual winner's single.

Mike V. said...

You could be absolutely right Ian, and I hope you are! I have made my peace with the possibility of being wrong this season. lol Dialidol has the race very close, but Kris does have a very small edge. But when it's that close, I tend to not trust their statistics!

I still texted in a lot of votes for Kris trying to prove my pick wrong too! We'll see what happens!

Unknown said...

I had trouble voting for Kris... only could mean good things. I am sure I went over my text message limit last night!
I really hope he pulls it off... The Gokey votes are important... I am sure they will be split. I don't think any votes were determined from last night's performances. You either liked Kris or you liked Adam.
They really need to do something about that final song... good grief that was horrible!

Mike V. said...

It would be quite the shocker! I agree though...nothing last night would have changed anyone's mind last night. I will say one thing though...Kris's performance of HEARTLESS inspired me to text in a lot more votes last week than it did this week. So, I don't know if you multiply me times however million voters there are out there! But of course, not everyone out there is consumed by writing a blog right after the show either so they may have voted more for him! LOL

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