It's Kris!

- JP Mitog -

MANILA, Philippines - In the finale, which aired live on Q-11, the 23 year old from Conway, Arkansas emerged victorious after the record-setting nearly 100 million votes from American viewers, a count that topped last year’s 97.5 million.

Seconds after his name was announced as the winner, Allen seemed shocked, even as Lambert, a 27-year-old musical theater actor, congratulated and embraced him.

College student Allen slowly gained following with his all-American good looks, wholesome image (he has a lovely young wife and goes to church regularly), and personal take of such hits as Kanye West’s Heartless; Donna Summer’s She Works Hard for the Money; and Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine.

He wasn’t a standout early in the season but he slowly won over the fans, and even acerbic AI judge Simon Cowell. During the final performance show after Allen sang his reworked version of Ain’t No Sunshine, Cowell admitted, “When your name was announced last week I wasn’t sure whether America had made the right choice. But I absolutely take all that back now.”

The two-hour-plus finale was a blast — as well as a blast from the past — as the contestants paired with veteran recording artists before the final results were announced.

Third placer Danny Gokey crooned with Lionel Richie for a medley of Richie’s hits. Allen paired with country singer (and Nicole Kidman’s hubby) Keith Urban for Kiss a Girl. Allison Iraheta’s rendition of Time after Time with Cyndi Lauper was one of the most widely-praised numbers of the finale.

Lambert rocked the house with glam rock band KISS with Detroit Rock City and I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite. The 13 finalists also performed with Carlos Santana, after which Lambert and Allen took the stage with Queen for We Are the Champions.

Then it was time to announce this season’s winner. Allen’s first reaction seemed to be an utter surprise. “It feels good, but Adam deserves this,” He told host Ryan Seacrest. “I don’t even know what to feel right now, this is crazy.”   

Lambert, in stark contrast to Allen, was memorable from the very beginning. Throughout the season, he has generated more blog buzz and when a software malfunction leaked iTunes sales of Season 8 finalists, it was revealed that six of Lambert’s songs were in the Top 10 AI downloads. The New York Post even claimed that Lambert’s version of Mad World was at No. 1.

While Lambert came to the Idol stage seemingly ready for stardom, Allen’s journey could be seen as a story of growth. Judge Kara DioGuardi summed it up best when she told Allen just before he sang this season’s finale song No Boundaries, “You are a compelling artist, and you have been an incredible person to watch week after week. You’ve come into your own, and I congratulate you for an incredible season.”

In the end, Lambert was very gracious and Allen was an unassuming and very likable winner. They both could very well have great careers ahead of them. “Both of you should be very proud of what you achieved (during your stint on American Idol) and the future is all yours,” Simon told Allen and Lambert.

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