Film and TV

And In This Corner...Kris Allen and Adam Lambert Go Mano-A-Mano on 'Idol'

So, my American Idol-watching comrades, after several months (it feels longer though, doesn't it?) of the hard work and dedication it takes to be glued to our television sets for at least three hours every week, we finally get the proverbial money shot: Adam Lambert vs. Kris Allen, or, as Seacrest referred to it, guy-next-door vs. guyliner. Oh, Seacrest, how I'll miss your witty quips this summer. Maybe I'll find a bored, precocious, short, child to tell me his favorite jokes for the next few months. It'll be almost like the same thing.

So, like last season, Idol used the boxing metaphor to bring added "drama" to the proceedings, with Seacrest asking Simon to pick a winner at the end of each round of songs. The irony is that I don't think, like David Cook and David Archuletta before them, either Adam or Kris could successfully land a punch if their well-manicured-hair's lives depended on it. At least this time the producers didn't make them wear cheesy boxing robes. But there's always tonight, right?

So each guy had to sing three songs last night: their favorite song they performed over the course of the season; a song picked by Idol creator Simon Fuller (who, like any good Svengali, was noticeably absent last night), and "No Boundaries," a song co-written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, and which I will tell you right now had my finger hovering over the "mute" button pretty much the whole time. I never pulled the trigger and actually pushed the button, which I am kicking myself for now. If Kara's judging is any indication, I should have known long ago that her songs would suck, too.

Round 1
Adam sings "Mad World," whilst wearing a Matrix-style coat. It sounds, understandably, pretty much exactly like his last performance of the song, which got a standing O from Simon. This time he calls it "over theatrical." The other judges had their proverbial judging orgasms over it, though, as did I. As Randy is wont to say, "Dude, you can sing your face off!"

Kris sings "Ain't No Sunshine," which I would argue was at least in his top two performances of the season (I also loved his performance of "Falling Slowly") and also sounded almost exactly like his last performance. Why are we listening to the same songs again?? Stupid producers. The judges loved it, with Randy making some stupid comparison to the LA Lakers and with Simon (who, by the way, has his shirt unbuttoned to his naval) declaring Kris the winner of the "round."

I think it was a draw. They both sounded really good, i.e. the same as they did last time they sang these songs.

Round 2
Simon Fuller's choice. He does actually exist, people. Phew. I was worried there for a second.

Adam sings Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and it is amazing. I know Adam has his detractors for being screamy (which he can be) and overly dramatic (which he can be), but you I challenge you to deny that, if nothing else, he is one of the most--if not the most--entertaining contestants on Idol. Hold him up to past winners--especially Taylor Hicks or, sorry hometown folks, but Jordin Sparks--and you'll wonder how those two ever even made it into the top 10. The judges love it, natch.

Holy Scientologist, Batman, it's Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise in the audience!

Kris Allen sings Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Hmm, think Fuller is trying to send a message with his song choices? Anyway, Kris does a more-than-adequate job with it, turning it into an acoustic jam that half the judges dug, with Randy and Simon falling on the "at this stage in the competition, you didn't bring it hard enough" side.

Adam definitely took this round, but not by much. I think Kris was actually really bringing it last night.

Hey look, it's all the Top 10 contestants! Remember Alexis Grace and Michael Sarver? I totally forgot they existed until just now. Aw, now I'm getting all nostalgic.

 Round 3
The Kara song. Seriously, it was such a bad song (sample lyrics: with every step/you climb another mountain/nothing stands between you and your dreams) that I think it might be impossible for me to judge the guys' individual performances of it objectively. You can watch Adam and Kris and judge for yourselves. I guess if forced to choose a "winner," it'd be Adam by a hair, but really, aren't we all losers when we have to listen to pap like this twice in a row?

The judges gave them both props but most of the fawning was spent on Adam, with Simon telling him he was "one of the best, most original contestants we've ever had on the show." Going to agree with Simon on this one.

So I'm feeling pretty good about Adam taking it all tonight, but Kris Allen definitely gave him a run for his money, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was some sort of upset. Kris has definitely come into his own this season, and though my love for Adam is deep and unabiding, I wouldn't shake a stick at a Kris Allen debut album, either.

Tonight: The big, bloated results show! I'll be live-tweeting it and would be pleased if you joined me. And check back tomorrow morning for a full recap of tonight's show. 

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Yvonne Zusel
Contact: Yvonne Zusel