Okay, let’s get the bad out of the way. Neither Adam nor Kris were at the top of their game for their final performances. They were clearly and very understandably tight, feeling the full pressure of the finale, and their respective weaknesses were very apparent (Adam’s overscreeching, Kris’s limited range). And they were burdened with one atrocious mess of a finale song (seriously, Kara, WTF???).
And now, for the REALLY bad. That final two-hour results show was an overbloated, made-for-profit mess, that was an embarrassing culmination of what had been a truly great season filled with great personalities and memorable moments. As great as it was to see all the finalists again, all the duets with the big stars just seemed contrived (the group numbers with just the finalists were far better). And worse, American Idol’s “comedy” moments were even more mean-spirited than usual, embarrassing bad auditioners once again in the name of an “award ceremony” and bringing back the bitchy Bikini Girl just to embarrass her one more time (you may argue she deserved it, but it was still classless). The Tatiana and Norman skits were somewhat more amusing, but it all seemed so unnecessary (the beginning of the season feels like a lifetime ago) and ways to pad the show and sell more commercial time.
Fortunately, it was the duo who mattered the most that came to the rescue: Adam and Kris. Free from the previous night’s pressure, they delivered performances that reminded everyone just how they got there in the first place. Adam, resplendent in a Matrix-meets-Mad-Max get-up, was at his glam rock best, his star power turning KISS into a mere backing band. Kris wasn’t quite as show-stopping, but his duet with Keith Urban was high-energy, and Kris was clearly enjoying every moment of it, which was infectious. Similarly, Adam and Kris made a point of singing WITH each other and not AGAINST each other for “We Are the Champions,” which was a nice way to salvage the taste level of the show just before the results were announced.
As we all know by now, Kris Allen was declared the winner. Was it the right choice? You know what; who’s really to say? People are free to like what they like and vote accordingly (for what it’s worth, I personally would’ve voted for Adam, but Kris was my favorite; if that makes sense). I think what matters the most, and what people need to remember (before starting backlashes or hurling accusations of homophobia or religion or conspiracies or whatever) is that from the beginning, both Kris and Adam were nothing less than class acts. Their grace under pressure was every bit as impressive as their talent. Their fondness and respect for each other never wavered until the end, and they both not only showed what it takes to be a great singer, but also great human beings.
I can’t wait for both of their albums to come out, and I bet they’l have awesomely productive careers. They’ll deserve nothing less. Thanks, Kris. Thanks, Adam. You guys rock, pure and simple.
Here are my favorite studio versions of the songs each of them performed over the season (overall, I think Adam reached greater heights, but Kris was more consistent):