Well, it's all over again. Another season of the phenomenon known as American Idol is complete and a new Idol chosen. After being the underdog all season, Kris Allen was voted by the public as the 2009 American Idol, beating out the clear favourite Adam Lambert. Kris was visibly shocked when his name was announced, coupled with, I think, a small dose of embarrassment. For Kris was a solid performer, an excellent vocalist to be sure, but not in the league of Lambert. And Kris knew this. He expected to lose and perhaps felt a little unworthy of the crown. Adam was extremely gracious in defeat, and it's a dead certainty that Season 8 of American Idol will not be the last time we see Lambert.
Week Nine saw the inevitable departure of Allison Iraheta, but not before her and Adam took to the stage for an absolute knock-out rendition of Foghat's rock classic "Slow Ride". It was a signature moment for the season, and Allison and Adam displayed the chemistry of artists who had been performing for years together. Their interaction on stage was intimate and natural, and for me, was the highlight of the 2009 Idol season.
The following week saw the somewhat surprising demise of Danny Gokey. Danny had performed well all season, but at times showed that he was relying on charisma alone, for his vocal abilities began to pale in comparison to the consistently maturing performances of Adam and Kris. To be honest, Adam had neither improved nor declined in talent since the start of the season - he was a superstar from day one. The only thing that changed in my opinion was his humility. At the beginning of the season he had shown arrogance and a rather large ego, elements that Simon would argue are prerequisites for success in the industry. Of course, Cowell is right, but that doesn't give anyone the right to be an asshole. I'm not saying Adam was ever that person, but as the season progressed and the Idols became more personally attached (which always happens considering they are housed together), Adam became almost humble.
The real question is how did Adam lose? There is always talk that the game is rigged, but I think that this season proved that the final voting is not. There may be situations within the season that are manipulated to gain viewer momentum - I mean, it is televison after all. It seemed, from talk and discussions on various Idol forums, that those who had been voting for Danny in the weeks preceding his departure, turned their votes for Kris in the final week - thereby sealing Adam's defeat.
But I'm not going to sit here and say that Kris was not a worthy winner of American Idol 2009. He gives the impression that he is a lovely guy, honest and genuine and extremely talented. But, as far as longevity as a recording artist, he may have a short career. Adam had the ability to transform himself, as many great recording artists do - but I can't see that happening with Kris Allen. Then again, so what? There are many artists who produce the same style and sound year after year and enjoy much success. Who's to say Kris Allen won't be taking home a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 2059?
So, all in all, it was an interesting season of American Idol, but it failed to reach the heights of last year. David Cook was perhaps the greatest Idol to ever grace the stage, and when he appeared on the show this year, solidified that opinion. One couldn't help feeling that people were looking for another David, and the fact that he was no longer around seemed to leave a gaping hole in the show. There is much conjecture as to whether Simon will be back again next year. I feel he was greatly disappointed that Adam did not win, for, in his purely Simon way, made a few comments in the last weeks that pointed towards the fact that in Adam they had found the complete package. And finding that is what American Idol is all about.
Week Seven was a bore - I think I dread Disco Week more than Simon (if that's even possible). It was good to see the end of Lil and Anoop, leaving Matt to clutch his Idol dream for one more week. Lil, as Simon said, had become a shadow of the performer we had all seen in auditions and Hollywood Week. Instead of finding her own voice (and it was indeed a big voice to accompany her 'lil' name) she seemed to allow herself to merely perform caricatures of the artists of the songs she was singing, memorably demonstrated by that Tina Turner strut across the stage. Unfortunately for Lil, it was too late for her to find that voice, and she was rightly ousted from Season 8.
As for Anoop - well, the guy had gotten through many times by the skin of his charm, and he was easily the weakest vocalist remaining in the competition. With the double-goodbye of Week Seven, Anoop was (sorry to say) the deserved second departure.
Week Eight saw Jamie Foxx lead the Idols through their paces for the songs of the infamous Rat Pack. A charismatic actor, comedian and musician, Jamie lent his observations of the style of the era and was as smooth as Frank and Dean themselves. The remaining five performers did well, with Adam again the standout with his sleazy strut down the stairs onto the stage. Kris was also in fine form, and those who have been hailing this guy since the beginning must be ecstatic with how far he has come. A clear dark horse from early on, I can't really recall a week when Kris had a poor night. On occasion he has been (to quote Randy) "solid, dude" and hasn't hit the artistic heights of Lambert, but he has been consistently strong. He also seems as though every word he is singing is directed adoringly toward his wife, which may go a long way in securing his popularity for sheer sweetness.
Week Eight saw the departure of Matt, who had failed to really make an impression despite a groovy, crowd-pleasing rendition of the Bee Gees classic "Stayling Alive" during Disco Week. But his departure clearly left the four strongest contestants to battle it out until the end. I would have thought that Adam would be the favourite, but after he was relegated to the bottom three this week (eventually facing off with Matt), I am not so sure. Perhaps the 'schtick' and theatrics that I disliked early on has been picked up by others and will be his undoing. But, don't ya know - I kinda like the guy now...