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American Idol (Season 9) and Amazing Adam


[originally published May 27, 2010.]



A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself.


  Jessamyn West


So, I was going to boycott the television show American Idol ("American Idol is a reality television competition to find new solo singing talent... Debuting June 11, 2002, as American Idol: The Search for a Superstar on the Fox network, the show has since become one of the most popular in the history of American television." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) after the Adam Lambert fiasco last year (he finished as the runner-up on the eighth season). Instead, I watched EVERY episode.


My justifications for watching the show this season included the fact that Judge Paula Abdul was replaced by the incredible Ellen DeGeneres, this was Judge Simon Cowell's last season and I never would have had the privilege of hearing Adam Lambert sing if I hadn't watched the show. He is often identified the following way; " of the most talented - and certainly the most flamboyant - singers to ever grace the Idol stage. Having wowed Simon Cowell and the judges with his renditions of songs by the likes of Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, Lambert may have finished second to Kris Allen on season eight of the talent show, but it's his glam pop-rock style that abides." ( Maybe, just maybe, there would be another find.


However, when contestant Todrick Hall sang "Somebody To Love" by Queen I craved Adam. Todrick Hall was kicked off the show following that performance - not surprising. In my article People seem to abhor ‘difference'  I say, "I can't be the only one who thought, when Adam and Kris sang with Queen guy, that Adam was much better suited to the style. If asked, I believe he should fill in the void left by Freddy Mercury. Honestly."


All of the contestants were very good. I enjoyed Lacey Brown's soft and sweet songs. Cute Casey James played up the Cougar thing. I'm in trouble... Judge Kara Dioguardi was often teased for liking a younger man. Siobhan Magnus was Adam-esque in the flare for drama department - only.  Tim Urban should be on the television show Glee. I obviously missed my calling as a casting director. He would make a great male-cheerleader. Big Mike was wonderful but overrated. Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze were the most excellent but really not one could compare to Adam Lambert.


I went on Youtube to revisit some of his Idol songs. Yes - he was great.

It's probably for the best that I wasn't attached to any one contestant - avoiding disappointment this time. I did expect to be entertained and I was.


For the first time ever on the show (April 13, 2010) a previous contestant mentored current ones.  It was Elvis week. Adam Lambert was asked to be a mentor.  He sang his own song the following night, "What Do You Want From Me?" the next night. A highlight, of course. Brilliant, of course. You know, Simon Cowell said that Adam Lambert should have won (On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, March 8, 2010). I totally agree. Still.


Adam Lambert is quite radical. In my book You Never Know: A Memoir I say; "Difference is something that most people avoid. Fitting in becomes a goal. Personally, I think difference is valuable. It is the "same" that irks me. Variation is not the same as inconsistency. One can be incredibly multi-tonal and consistent." (Shiller,You Never Know: A Memoir, p. 23.)

Even though he claims that no one is doing what he does in the mainstream, (GMTV, UK) the mainstream cannot contain him. That is why, in part, he lost American Idol and was refused appearances on some American Television shows. His guy-on-guy performance on the American Music Awards (November 23, 2009) resulted in several media cancellations including Good Morning America but "Chris Brown who beat up his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, has been booked for an interview and a performance on the show..." ( An internet site says, "During his performance of "For Your Entertainment", Lambert simulated oral sex with a male dancer, kissed his keyboard player, Tommy Joe Ratliff, while writhing on stage. The more "offensive" parts that aired on the live east coast feeds were edited out before airing on the west." ( 


"There are a lot of double standards as far as that goes," Lambert said backstage, a few days before the awards show. "We've seen female pop and rock performers do that for the last 10 years. They've been very provocative, owning their power and sexuality. You just don't see men doing it very often. And I'm hoping to break down that double standard with this number." (MSNBC)

He's right - the Madonna and Britney kiss (MTV's 20th annual Video Music Awards) was not punished at all. Lambert said, "I didn't expect it to be as big of a deal as it was but in hindsight I'm glad it went down the way it did because it facilitated a conversation about the double standards." ( Examining ideology is good.


So the finale came. Either Crystal Bowersox or Lee Dewyze would win. I was certainly entertained but the finale  needed more swish. ('Sneaky Gays' promotional clip for Glee.) Crystal was much better than the obviously nervous Lee. Lee Dewyze won - big surprise? To be honest, I didn't care who won. Maybe, just maybe, there is something valuable in having a favorite and being pissed off when they don't win.


I thought that the following contestants should have won in previous years: Jennifer Hudson (Season 3), Bo Bice (Season 4), Elliot Yamin or Chris Daughtry (Season 5), Adam Lambert (Season 8) - "My expectations are usually modified but this was too much to bear." (People seem to abhor ‘difference.') Last year I felt so involved because I was invested...hmm.






American Idol

Accessed April 15, 2010.


Good Morning America

<> Accessed April 23, 2010.


Glee. The television series.

Accessed April 28, 2010.



Accessed April 26, 2010.

Accessed April 23, 2010. "Interview: Adam Lambert

Accessed April 28, 2010.



<> Accessed April 23, 2010.



Accessed April 23, 2010.


Shiller,Romy. People seem to abhor ‘difference.' May 25, 2009.



  ----------------- You Never Know: A Memoir. Victoria, BC: Trafford. 2008.

Accessed April 23, 2010.


 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

<> Accessed April 15, 2010.


Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia

Accessed April 26, 2010.



<> Accessed April 23, 2010.



Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.

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