Friday, May 22, 2009

A walk down 'Idol' lane

[Photo courtesy of L.A. Times]

I vowed not to watch another season of American Idol, but here I am, the end of May, having plowed through another season. I wasn’t planning to watch this year, but as the weeks went on, I figured I needed something to compare Season Seven to, so I began to dutifully watch Season Eight.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I was and am a David Archuleta fan through and through. And everyone knows he “lost” last year.

This year, Kris Allen, who, everyone knows, “won” this year, caught my eye. But not in the way that Archuleta had.

I had and have very little emotional attachment to Kris Allen. I did not vote for most of the season, but threw in twelve votes in the final round. Because I did not want his loss to be a landslide as it had been when Archuleta lost to Cook last year.

This is all to say that I qualify as “one of those blind, deaf people who voted for Kris.” (And the many more biting comments that have been made about Kris fans.)

But hear my story before you judge. I am very, very, very tired of being marginalized as a conservative Christian, likely from the South, with no taste in music.

First things first: I prefer pop music. I like Jason Mrazy type stuff, and Kris Allen immediately pinged in my ear as Jason Mrazy. This must not come as a surprise, as I preferred David Archuleta to David Cook. This should also not come as a surprise, as I watch the show American Idol. That said, I have nothing against Adam Lambert, not in the least bit (okay, the tongue thing was a little weird). He was, by all counts, much more attractive, much more vocally talented and had much more stage presence. But his musical style just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The reasons I voted for Kris and not Adam had nothing to do with his sexuality. I am a liberal, for the most part an atheist, born-and-raised New York (City)er who just prefers a more laidback sound. I went to an all-girls college and hung out with the lesbian crowd for a good part of my senior year. (That might explain my penchant for a more folksy style of music, eh?)

Entertainment Weekly journalist Whitney Pastorek says it best:

"Adam Lambert was never going to win this show, but I don't think it had anything to do with platform boots or flaming bombast or some vast red state/Mormon/hillbilly/Miss California conspiracy. I think it had more to do with the fact that the sort of people who would be inclined to like Adam Lambert are not as inclined to watch this show as the sort of people who would be inclined to like Kris Allen."

Now, being a David Archuleta fan, the Season Eight finale was particularly strange for me. There I was, fully expecting Adam to win, and there I was, mouth wide-open, wondering how the hell it was Kris who had won. The victory didn’t feel so good. Especially after I started reading message boards and all the hateful messages towards those who voted for Kris. I was made to feel almost guilty for having voted for Kris because, apparently, I was making a statement about my views on homosexuality.


I truly believed Adam Lambert was going to win. I think Adam Lambert should have won. Vocally, he is more talented. He, again, has more stage presence. He has “it”.

My co-worker, an Adam fan, was “pissed” at Kris’ stunned reaction. “He didn’t act like he wanted to win, or believed he would. If you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t deserve to win.”


I love my co-worker, but ... did anyone think Kris would truly win?

I was so, so disappointed David Archuleta lost last year, but here I found myself a year later, on the opposite side of the fence. But the fence didn’t seem so high or wide as it had a year before. It was completely apparent to me that Adam would go on to sell many more records than Kris would, and that Kris’ victory was little more than a coronation -- a going through of motions -- with very little true meaning behind it.

So I guess I succeeded, when I began watching Season Eight, in finding something to compare Season Seven to. I now know what it is like to stand on either side of the fence, and frankly, the view really isn’t all that different.

I know I can’t speak for all Kris Allen fans (or even most of them), but that's my story. Angry Adam Lambert fans, please consider the fact that not every person who voted for Kris is homophobic. And in the end, as I have learned from past "losses", it really doesn’t matter. It’s just an imaginary crown, a stupid coronation song. The true winner(s) will prove himself in his success after American Idol.

P.S. David Cook sounded the best he's ever sounded on Wednesday night. I'm buying the performance from iTunes.