Kris Allen

Pia and the Anthem: A decade-long skill returns on Veterans Day

Some of TV's strongest moments have come from PBS' 4th-of-July and Memorial Day concerts. Now comes a third special, Sunday on Veterans Day. Here's the story I sent to papers about the concert and Pia Toscano, who will have two powerful songs repeated Sunday: 


For half her life, Pia Toscano has sung
the National Anthem or “Go Bless America” to mega-crowds.

"Idol" idealism

For "American Idol" fans, the good news is that things are finally getting serious. The 12 guys sing tonight (Tuesday), the 12 women sing Wednesday, then four of them will be gone Thursday -- in a results show that includes songs by Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta.

The better news? Idealism still soars at "Idol."

Kris Allen, meet Antonio Salieri

Sort of by accident, Kris Allen has become the 21st century's Antonio Salieri.

I don't mean all the negative baggage. The brilliant play (and splendid, Oscar-winning movie) "Amadeus" depicted Salieri as cruel, envious, narrow and vindictive. Kris is none of those; by all accounts, he's an extraordinarily decent guy who deserves much of the good fortune -- cute face, super-cute wife, "American Idol" championship -- that has happened to him.

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.