As the eighth season of American Idol draws to a close, speculation as to which of the two finalists, Adam Lambert or Kris Allen, will be crowned this season’s winner has reached a fever pitch. Both sides have convincing arguments and neither is ready to concede. This could be one of the closest finals in the history of the show and a victory by either contestant is certainly possible.
Kris and Adam each offer very different musical and performing styles, and appeal to different demographics. With his edgy, rocker vibe, Adam has brought renewed excitement to the ‘Idol’ stage this season. He has chosen the right songs for his vocal range, and his interpretations have been creative and original.
With years of performing experience under his belt, Adam Lambert has been fearless on the ‘Idol’ stage. His theatrical training shows in his ability to connect to song lyrics and emote. He connects with the audience, both in the theater and at home.
Vocally, Adam has excellent range and control. He is able to stretch his voice from the top to the bottom of his range with ease. His enunciation is clean and crisp, and his phrasing immaculate. Adam’s biggest strength is his falsetto. He soars into those high notes effortlessly and the overall effect is impressive.
Adam’s only real weakness is that he sometimes appears to be holding back. Strange in that many people feel he can be too over-the-top. But his natural instinct is toward the dramatic and by reigning in that urge, he has deprived us of that “moment” where his performance is completely unfettered. He is certainly trying to play it safe, understandable with so much at stake, but it would certainly be worth the risk for him to give one performance in the finals where he leaves nothing behind.
Kris has a much more low-key style than Adam and his performances have had a more intimate feel. While Adam shines in his upper register, Kris’ lower register is where he shines. He doesn’t have the range that Adam has, but he uses what he has more effectively, rarely over-stretching.
Kris has beautiful pitch, made more apparent by staying within his comfort zone. His phrasing is impeccable and enunciation crystal clear. He has also show originality in his song arrangements. Kris is a musician and that certainly is advantageous in this season where song interpretation has become so important.
While Adam has been criticize for being too over-the-top, there have been occasions where Kris should have kicked it up a notch. He shines on ballads, yet sometimes runs the risk of being a bit boring. He overcomes this by connecting with the lyrics and keeping his eyes on the audience and/or the camera.
Kris is the decided underdog in this competition, which puts him in a good position to actually win. Rightly or not, Adam has been criticized for having received too much praise from the judges and getting the coveted final performance slot more times than anyone else in the competition. While this criticism is undeserved, there may be a perception problem among the casual viewer that Adam is the proverbial “chosen one” in this competition. ‘Idol’ voters do not like to be told for whom to vote, and if the judges and producers really do want Adam to win, the comments had better be fair this week.
Who will win? This one may be too close to call. The final performance show will certainly be important in that people who don’t normally watch the show and who haven’t formed an opinion will be influenced by how the evening goes. Adam’s fans will vote for Adam and Kris’ fans will vote for Kris. This time around, the casual, uncommitted voters could be the deciding factor.