Adam Lambert

Joshua leaves; despair arrives

What is true stardom like? How should an "American Idol" winner sound and feel?

Tonight, we saw two splendid examples. Alas, neither will be an "Idol" champion.

First was Adam Lambert, the most talented male the show has ever had. He finished second (to Kris Allen, likable and forgettable) in 2009. His guest performance tonight was sensational, as usual.

Then was Joshua Ledet, the second-most-talented male the show has had. We now learn that he's merely finishing third to Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips.

"Idol": It could have been worse

As "American Idol" wrapped up tonight, we felt relief: On double-elimination night, it could have been much worse.

Andrew Garcia was no surprise; he had to go. Katie Stevens was a mild surprise -- I didn't even expect her in the final four -- but it's one we could live with.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1) Katie is leaving after one of her better weeks. She's a good pop singer with a great pop face; still, her fairly deep, mature voice didn't seem to connect with the young-teen audience.

Good "Idol," great Elvis

After spending the weekend with Elvis Presley, I was delighted to find his music and memory also appearing on "American Idol."

My mind was there, anyway, thanks to 20 hours of weekend riding in a car that happened to have Sirius XM satellite radio. I flipped channels furiously, ranging from disappointments (Radio Classics) to delights (Rabbi Bob Alper on the laugh channel). In particular, I savored the all-Elvis station.

So very wrong, but ...

Of course, tonight's "American Idol" result was flat-out wrong.

Adam Lambert is simply on a different plain than any other "Idol" contestant, past or present. He proved that tonight when he fit in perfectly with Queen and Kiss. This guy is a rock star, with the voice, the showmanship and the smarts.

A dandy finale

Imagine that you did a little perverse time-travel.

You took Justin Guarini, bouncing around amiably in the original, 2002 "American Idol" finals. Or Diana DeGarmo, belting her best in the 2004 finale. Then you transported them instantly to tonight, to see and hear Adam Lambert.

They'd feel like they'd arrived from a lesser universe. That's how much the competition has grown in five and seven years -- and how much Lambert towers above everyone else, even now.

Adam vs. Kris: A double profile

The final "American Idol" commotion is tonight and Wednesday, with Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. Here's a joint profile of the two; for an interview with Danny Gokey, who finished third, catch the next blog down: 

The final showdown

Many people had been predicting a showdown between Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert in the "American Idol" finals (8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox). One person -- Simon Cowell, no less -- predicted Gokey would win.

Now, instead, he's out and Kris Allen is in the finals. Why? In the story below, Gokey says it might have been "the scream" that doomed him; Justin Guarini guesses that Gokey and Lambert split the older voters, while Allen had most of the little girls.

A great "Idol" moment

Even on a show that tries endlessly to manufacture emotion, nothing can match the real thing. The final moments tonight were "American Idol" at its best.

Here was Danny Gokey, a man who had entered the competition shortly after the death of his wife. Buoyant, outgoing, he was immensely likable. And the song he sang (wonderfully) at the end was perfect for this widower -- "You Are So Beautiful."

Danny had picked out that song for Tuesday's performance, a great choice. Paula Abdul had picked his other song, an awful choice.

Hey dude, they HAVE a piano player

On a night filled with great "American Idol" performances, the only mistakes came when people didn't do enough to show off their talent.
Two judges (Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi) chose "Apologize" for Kris Allen, expecting him to deliver beautifully muted emotion. Instead, he buried himself behind a piano. He played competently; he sang competently. It wasn't the kind of thing to do when everything is at stake; dude, they have plenty of other people to play the piano for you.

"Idol" has homecoming week

This is homecoming night for the final three "American Idol" contestant. We'll see Danny Gokey in Milwaukee and Kris Allen in Arkansas; chances are, crowds will go ga-ga.

And we'll see Adam Lambert in Los Angeles or San Diego. Hopefully, someone will notice.

Being from California sometimes seems like not having a home town at all. We sort of noticed that when Katherine McPhee returned to LA in 2006; it was the exact opposite of the civic glee that greeted Taylor Hicks in Alabama.