May 21, 2009 in Nation/World

Viewers make Arkansan an unexpected ‘Idol’

Lynn Elber Associated Press
Associated Press photo

This photo provided by Fox shows Kris Allen, center, react after Ryan Seacrest, right, announces that he is the winner of “American Idol” on Wednesday in Los Angeles. At left is Adam Lambert.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Kris Allen’s smooth vocals and boy-next-door image propelled him to “American Idol” victory Wednesday, turning the theatrical powerhouse Adam Lambert into the most unlikely of also-rans.

“I’m sorry, I don’t even know what to feel right now. This is crazy,” said a stunned Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark.

As host Ryan Seacrest said in announcing the result of the viewer vote, “The underdog, the dark horse, comes back and wins the nation over.”

Lambert’s commanding vocal range and stage presence – and the judges’ adoration of him – at times turned “Idol” into “The Adam Lambert Show,” with the other contestants mere guests. But it turned out that “Idol” viewers could embrace a gifted performer like Lambert, one who sported black nail polish and bold self-assurance, only to a point.

Simon Cowell tipped his hat to both contestants Wednesday.

“To both of you, and I don’t normally mean this, I thought you were both brilliant. … The future’s all yours,” the judge said.

Before the results were announced, Lambert and Allen had a moment of musical camaraderie: They joined together with Queen on the rock anthem “We Are the Champions.”

“Adam did win. So did Kris. Nobody lost tonight. These are two champions,” said Paul Stanley from Kiss backstage.

The comments from Cowell and Stanley aren’t necessarily empty platitudes. Past contestants can testify that losing the title doesn’t mean you’re a loser, nor does winning mean you’re a shoo-in for superstardom.

Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, who finished fourth and seventh in their respective seasons, have gone on to huge success. As for “Idol” winners, they range from blockbuster artists like Carrie Underwood to the mostly under-the-radar Taylor Hicks.

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