- (Photo: AP Images / Chris Pizzello)
Church worship leader Kris Allen beat out theater actor Adam Lambert for the “American Idol” title Wednesday in a come-from-behind victory that some say shouldn’t be as surprising as many are finding it to be.
“If you wonder why Kris beat Adam, think about this: who gets more radio airtime now, Kiss or Keith Urban?” posed Ed Boyce, a pastor from North Carolina whose comment was “re-tweeted” by Allen’s pastor, Rick Bezet of New Life Church in Conway, Ark.
On Wednesday's season finale of "American Idol," Allen teamed up with country music star Urban, singing "Kiss a Girl," while Lambert took the stage with rock legends Kiss, whose members are headed into their 50s and 60s.
Then, of course, there’s the “Gokey factor.” After finalist Danny Gokey was voted off from the final three, many expected the majority of his fan base to flock over to Allen – who, aside from being a worship leader like Gokey, was more similar in presentation and vocal style to Gokey than Lambert.
Also worth considering is the “Christian vote,” which some say has played a role in the outcome of “American Idol” since the popular singing contest’s first season in 2001.
Though Lambert has kept his beliefs, as well has his sexual orientation, largely under wraps, Allen is widely known for being the worship leader for the Chi Alpha campus ministry at University of Central Arkansas and for New Life Church in Conway. Allen has also done missionary work in numerous countries around the world.
But Allen had made it clear Monday that his hope was that the “Christian vote” - assuming that there is such a factor - would have no effect on Wednesday’s results.
“I hope it has to do with the talent and the performance that you give. It's not about religion and all that kind of stuff,” added the 23-year-old married college student.
Lambert, who was sitting beside Allen on Monday, agreed.
“I would hope people vote based on what they like to hear,” the 27-year-old San Diego native told reporters outside the Nokia Theatre in Hollywood. “I don't think it has anything to do with your religious background, what color you are, gender. It doesn’t have anything to do with that.”
Another possible factor is the “Arkansas factor” – which popped up late Wednesday night and spurred a flurry of activity throughout the blogosphere.
But late Thursday morning, Fox's affiliate in Little Rock, KLRT-TV, retracted its hard-to-believe report claiming that 38 million of the show’s 100 million votes were cast from the state of Arkansas, where the population is less than three million.
For that to have happened, every man, woman and child in the state would have had to vote more 12 times. “American Idol” allows up to 10 votes per phone line.
What is more likely, however, as many have been saying, is that Allen simply had built up a larger fan base as he improved by leaps and bounds each week and that he is just as talented an artist as vocal powerhouse Lambert.
"I think Kris won because he's a great artist and I was happy to be runner-up to that," Lambert said backstage.
Even acerbic judge Simon Cowell acknowledged before the final results were announced that both contenders were “brilliant.”
"To both of you, and I don't normally mean this, I thought you were both brilliant ... the future's all yours," he said.
Furthermore, given that only a million votes separated Allen and Lambert last week, Wednesday's results should not be as big of a shocker as some have made it out to be.
"Allen spent much of the season in the shadow of fellow worship leader Danny Gokey, who was favored to go to the finals with Lambert," noted Beliefnet blogger Joane Brokaw, who runs the Gospel Soundcheck.
"But as the weeks progressed, Allen proved that his ability to interpret songs was a stronger asset than either Gokey's soulful vocals and poignant personal back story or Lambert's big rock vocals and theatrical stage persona," she concluded.
As the eighth "American Idol" to win the title, Allen is now entitled to a record contract with 19 Recordings. His coronation song, "No Boundaries," is available for download on iTunes.
On the Web:
Kris Allen's performance of "No Boundaries" at www.americanidol.com/videos/season_8/performances/season_finale_kris_allens_no_boundaries