Congratulations to the newest American Idol champion, Kris Allen. He was considered the "dark horse" for several weeks in this competition and almost no one predicted he would win, but by the time Wednesday morning (the day of the big finale) rolled around, no one wanted to count him out, either.
Why did he beat Adam Lambert? Was it "the guy next door vs. the guyliner"? Was it straight vs. gay? Who knows how the voting broke down ultimately...and, really, who cares? Both of these young men are very talented and I went into Wednesday night's show truly believing that there could not be a wrong choice. Is Adam "flaming"? Maybe...probably...but he is also insanely gifted vocally and he has the propriety to keep his sexual preferences quiet (at least for now).
I think Kris won for a combination of reasons, though. First, he defined who he was early-on and never wavered from that. He did increase in confidence on a weekly basis and he did become more likable as time passed. Second, he stumbled a couple times along the way, but his general "story arc" was always upward. He did not peak early then have trouble maintaining his following (like Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds did, in my opinion). He just steadily got better and kept picking songs that would suit his style and appeal to a wider and wider audience. Lastly, I think you cannot underestimate the effect that Gokey's voters had on the finals. Personality-wise, Danny and Kris are very similar and when Danny finished as #3, I think more of his voters turned to Kris than to Adam. When Kris and Adam were only separated by about 1 million votes the week before, it's just a matter of simple math to see why Kris ended up winning in the end.
I look forward to hearing what both Kris and Adam do in the future. I actually hope Adam will get called to be the new lead singer for Queen--he would be the only person I can imagine that would ever adequately fill Freddie Mercury's shoes. And I hope Kris' first album is not a total mess as sometimes happens to AI winners (thanks to producers who tend to over-think these things). Congrats to both of you!