Kris Allen, American Idol
(May 2009)

Kris Allen, the new American Idol, has a lot to learn about show business. It’s all about ego, supreme confidence, self-promotion and relentless ambition. But when he was chosen, based on almost 100 million viewer votes, as the winner of Fox TV’s annual search to find the nation’s next pop star, the winner decided to tell the truth.

"It feels good, but Adam deserves this." Allen said. “Adam” would be Adam Lambert, the flashy, freakishly poised and talented rock singer with the Broadway vibes who dominated the season-long competition and was not only the favorite, but by near consensus the most striking performer ever unearthed by the show, which has, in past seasons, discovered Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, and David Cook.

The competition took an ugly turn in the final weeks, with conservative Christian groups beating the drums for Allen, not because of his pleasing looks, personality and vocals, but because Lambert may be gay. Why Lambert lost the final tally will be much debated, but there is little controversy over whether he showed himself to be the superior singer and performer in the final “showdown” between the two, just as he had throughout the competition. He did.

There was no horrible injustice here. Kris Allen is a legitimate talent. Lambert’s path to stardom will be unimpeded by his runner-up status, and it will be an even bigger surprise than Allen’s underdog victory if Lambert does not become rich, famous, and successful. He’s that good. Kris Allen did not need to apologize for his popularity, or do anything but bask in his moment. Instead, he decided to be honest, and to pay the ultimate tribute to a competitor.

He said that Adam Lambert deserved to win.

Kris Allen achieved something better than being an American Idol.

He’s an Ethics Idol too.

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