By Richard Rushfield, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
When the Adam Lambert and Kris Allen go head to head on Tuesday night it will perhaps be the biggest cliffhanger of a finale in American Idol history. Adam comes into this finale the Goliath of Season 8, but Kris Allens David has been getting stronger and stronger all season.
Kris Allen has bested a slew of favorites to earn his slot in the finale, but does he have what it takes to win it all?
Weve broken that question down into its basic elements to measure, fighting on many fronts, who has the right ingredients to become the next American Idol. (Frank Micelotta / PIctureGroup for FOX)
Lambert has been an early favorite of the 10 12 year old girls who hold the fate of this competition in this hand, but cutest contestant ever Kris Allen has been growing in appeal until hes matched Adams tween strength. However, Adams wild theatrical style speaks directly to the tween overlords, for whom dance prowess in a guy hold powerful sway.
Question mark: Will the tweens forgive Kris for being married?
The Edge: This category is very very close but we it to Adam by a nose. (Frank Micelotta / Fox)
Lambert has been an unstoppable juggernaut, week after week slaughtering the competition and becoming a national cultural phenomenon in the process. But Kris slow and steady rise has been perfectly timed to build to a crescendo just as we enter the finals. The excitement over this dark horse making it to the final round has turned into a frenzy of enthusiasm for the quiet young man from Conway.
The Edge: Kris- late surge floods the phenomenon. (Michael Becker / Fox)
Both Adam and Kris score off the charts in likeability indexes, but they come at that from different sides. Adam constantly sunny and outgoing is his disposition, radiates bigger than life star while shy, humble Kris seems the boy next door. However, Adams polished demeanor might at times play as aloof to the Idol drama.
The Edge: Kris by a nose. (Michael Becker / Fox)
Kris hails from Arkansas, the heart of the Idol belt while Adam is a LA resident, hailing from the state which has only sent one other singer to the finals and never produced a champion.
The Edge: Kris, by a mile. (Chris Cuffaro / Fox)
Adam has revamped the rocker genre, taking it back the Bowie/Queen era and updated it for a wild, aggressive new style. Kris hails from the burgeoning, John Mayer soulful light rock singer world.
The Edge: Adam. While Kris has introduced a new style to the Idol finals that will certainly have its fans, the electricity generated by Adams over the top performances will be hard to match. (Chris Cuffaro / Fox)
While Kris might be able to create some magic if he can turn the giant Nokia theater into an intimate saloon, Adams gigantic style and theatrical background are tailor-made to take control of the finale stage.
The Edge: Clearly Adam (Michael Becker / Fox)
The rags-to-riches narrative is precious to many Idol viewers and although audiences have become much more open to accepting performers with performing history, Adams extensive theater background clearly takes him out of this main narrative.
The Edge: Kris by a mile; the nice kid from the small Southern town is Idol gold. (Michael Becker / Fox)
Kris won and elected to go second, by conventional wisdom the smarter move, but also the exact strategy followed last year by David Archuleta.
The Edge: Kris...although who knows how important it is. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Since the last vote, Danny Gokey has left the competition, which means his voters are up for grabs. Looking at the commonality between his background and performance style and comparing it with that off the two remaining singers, the landscape would clearly seem to favor
The Edge: Clearly Kris (Getty Images / Fox)
With Kris Allen leading in six categories to Adams three, the perpetual dark horse suddenly emerges as the favorite. However, where Adam is strong, he is very very very strong. It is hard to calculate the impact of a larger-than-Idol phenomenon like Adam has become.
And there is still the little matter of the final performances to get through, where anything truly can still happen. Stand by for a finale for the history books as Season 8 draws to a close. (Michael Becker / Fox)