Kris Allen is leading a charmed life.
An underdog coming into this week’s American Idol Top 3, Allen had been gaining momentum amongst fans and in the blogosphere in recent weeks.
The fact that momentum was enough to overcome Danny Gokey and a seemingly predestined Gokey-Adam Lambert final was surprising.
Gokey’s story of overcoming his wife’s death and his commitment to his faith as a church musician are inspirational. He has a bright future in entertainment and envisioning him as the next big thing in contemporary Christian music is hardly a stretch.
So then, it begs the question, why didn’t he make it to the finals?
One of the best explanations may have come from a Twitter post I came across last night in the immediate wake of the results. The writer claimed the math was simple, Gokey and Allen spilt the “mainstream” vote and Lambert captured the attention of everyone who sees his theatrical flamboyance as a huge asset.
The first interesting part of this argument is: What could be defined as “mainstream?” That’s a loaded question in and of itself. If that assertion is correct, however, it could point to an Allen upset win in the final if Allen and Lambert were truly only one million votes apart.
Allen has strong Christian credentials himself, having performed at Conway, Ark.’s New Life Church and the Chi Alpha student ministry at University of Central Arkansas.
Does then, the Idol finals point to yet another skirmish in the culture wars?
Before you completely discount that, think just briefly about the entire controversy surrounding the Carrie Prejean-Perez Hilton-topless photos flap. Or the almost daily stories about the progress of same-sex marriage proponents. Or the tension at Notre Dame over President Obama’s commencement address this weekend.
Without question, the American Idol final doesn’t have the same political ramifications as, say, the upcoming vote in Maine over same-sex marriage or the California Supreme Court’s decision on the validity of Proposition 8.
Yet Lambert’s incredible talent wrapped in what has often been referred to as his “gender-bending” style against the Southern front porch guitar strummer image portrayed by Allen creates an undeniable contrast.
In the long run, Gokey very well may end up being the biggest star of all three. His likeable personality and his timeless story of turning tragedy into triumph through his faith may make him a household name for years to come.
Allen is still a long-shot to win. A quick survey of Vegas odds – and oh, yes you can bet big bucks this – put Allen’s chances at 5-to-1 and compared to 3-to-1 for Lambert.
Bet on this before you predict a Lambert blowout: You and I will both be watching and people’s cultural beliefs will play a role in the voting regardless of who belts out the better tune.