Now that Adam Lambert’s made it official, it’s looking like the traditional media may move on to fretting over how his drug admissions will influence our children. A child of the sixties myself, you won’t find me concerned with that. Instead, I will revel in how much America loves their Idol runner up. Here are two takes on the Kris Allen/Adam Lambert bromance. Both were written prior to Lambert’s Rolling Stone admissions.
[Adam Lambert] is a guy who knows his own inner David Bowie, his Lou Reed, his Elton John and his Better Midler. On Idol, Lambert was drastically rearranging songs, bending them to his will to power.
By contrast, the young man who eventually won, Kris Allen, fits a more conventional mode, a cross between a soft-voiced teen pop star and a sensitive singer-songwriter who, given the rules of Idol, wasn’t writing his own songs. He sang well, he’s ordinary-guy handsome and, above all, he’s not threatening or polarizing. He became, among all the finalists, the least objectionable choice, which is probably what won him the American Idol title.
When Kris Allen sang “No Boundaries,” it’s as though he’s completely hemmed in by it. By contrast, Adam Lambert is a fascinating mixture of characteristics: On Idol, he was unfailingly polite, frequently using time other contestants use to plug themselves to instead credit the show’s house band. Instead of quailing before the judges or sassing them back, Lambert looked each one in the eye with a warm smile and a delightful calmness, as if to say, “There’s no comment you can make that will dissuade me from what I want to do here, which is to make you question everything you think you know about music.” Which is also why, many weeks, the judges responded to an Adam Lambert performance with variations on, “I’m speechless” and “I don’t know what you just did but I love it.”
Me, I started thinking, “A gay Elvis Presley — this is exactly what America needs right now.” … The night Lambert lost, a friend immediately emailed me that this vote was the delayed red-state backlash to Barack Obama’s victory. He was joking — somewhat. It’s too bad that the one contestant who really could have done something with the title — expanded our notions of what a mass-audience, family-friendly TV idol could be — was denied that tantalizing opportunity. I’m sure Lambert will have some sort of career after his defeat. It’s just that I also believe it would have been a lot more interesting career if he was also spending the next year as the kind of American Idol this steamroller of a TV show was designed to crush.
A slightly different take on the match-up from An Unapproved Road:
I think [Kris] and Adam together will deserve some credit for having altered the cultural landscape. I’m well aware that the lion’s share of press has gone to Adam Lambert, not to mention the stratospheric numbers he’s generated on Google. Yet, if Kris hadn’t played the part he did, Adam’s story would have been quite different. And not nearly so powerful. …
I know next to nothing about Kris Allen’s non-musical life, except that he’s married, he calls himself Christian and he’s done missionary work across the world. I heard about the exchanges among the other contestants that made reference to what is supposedly “godly” and right in relationships, but Kris’s name wasn’t part of that. I don’t know what kind of Christianity he practises, or how he envisions his God. I do know this: he declares himself Christian to the television audience – i.e. to the world; and he freely, publicly, verbally, and especially non-verbally, loves Adam Lambert like a brother. …
It’s joyously evident that Kris has no qualms whatsoever about his trust in Adam, or about the message he’s sending to viewers. When they hugged, they hugged for real – there was none of the typical back-slapping not-too-close! hugs between men in public. To pick just one, there’s a telling moment in front of the press corps immediately after Kris’ win. Adam is patiently doing his post-episode 10-minute Q&A beside the Fox logo, when Kris comes around the corner into camera range and nearly tackles Adam with a broadside bear-hug. It’s spontaneous, genuine, and affectionate, for the world to see.
They’ve had each other’s backs. They’ve learned from each other, and they’ve advocated for each other. With and for each other they are respectful and generous. Open. Trusting. And loving.
Adam Lambert could not be happier for his friend, Kris Allen, American Idol 2009. And Kris Allen admires and celebrates the extraordinary gifts of his larger-than-life friend, Adam Lambert.
Kris Allen is my kind of Christian.
The latter via Andrew Sullivan. Here Adam’s rendition of Mad World: