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May 20, 2009

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen: ‘American Idol’ religion final

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/adam_lambert_and_kris_allen_american_idol_religion_final_20090520/

Photo

Lambert, left, and Allen

I’ll be honest: I haven’t seen a single minute of “American Idol” this season. Usually I stick around just long enough to watch the auditions, but this year I’ve ignored the Fox hit altogether. That being said, I have little—actually, no—perspective to add to the second half of the finale, which airs tonight.

But I am keenly aware of the differences between Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. To start, one is a Jew and the other an evangelical Christian. From the Los Angeles Times:

Lambert’s dazzling tenor and propensity for high notes have made for many memorable “Idol” moments. But in this era of Internet leaks, what’s become known about his life beyond the show has made an equally important impression.

When photographs of Lambert, 27, kissing a man overran the Internet in March, Lambert brushed off the incident with a smile and a new motto: “I know who I am.” Several gay contestants have been on the program, but none has made it so far while being this nonchalant about his sexuality.

“In terms of the sexuality question, that’s up to him to say, but he’s obviously not conventionally masculine in how he dresses and how he talks, and there’s no sense that he’s ever tried to hide it,” said Ross. “He’s totally matter of fact—and that is really startling to see on mainstream TV. It seems almost heroic to me.”

Lambert’s competition is Allen, a 23-year-old worship leader at New Life Church in Conway, Ark., who was doing missionary work in Asia and Africa during the years Lambert was building his pop resume. Allen was one of several actively Christian musicians to make this year’s Top 10, who will tour as a group this summer.

Lambert and Allen have a musical connection: Both specialize in variations of the form of alternative rock known as emo, an emotionally forthright, catchy variation on American punk music. While Lambert’s dyed-black hair and eyeliner recall bands like My Chemical Romance, Allen’s warble and his love of acoustic guitar link him to artists like Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, who himself is open about his Christian faith.

The Times’ Ann Powers goes on to put this season of “Idol” in the context of Carrie Prejean, who really doesn’t seem to be going away, and the Obama presidency.

Danielle Berrin has had a lot more to say about Lambert. Comments are welcome below; someone please let me know who wins.

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