Kris Allen was crowned the "American Idol" Season 8 champ on Wednesday night (May 20), after nearly 100 million votes declared the 23-year-old Conway, Arkansas native the winner over runner-up Adam Lambert.
During the two hour-plus season finale, contestants were paired with veteran recording artists for duets. Allen broke out the guitar with Keith Urban to perform the country singer's "Kiss a Girl;" third runner-up Danny Gokey and Lionel Richie did a medley of "Hello," "Just Go," and "All Night Long;" Cyndi Lauper teamed up with fourth-place finisher Allison Iraheta on "Time After Time;" and Lambert joined the glam rock band KISS for a pyro-heavy take on "Detroit Rock City" and "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite." All thirteen contestants provided the vocals for Carlos Santana on "Black Magic Woman" and "Smooth," and Lambert and Allen performed "We Are the Champions" with the big surprise guest of the night, Queen.
Allen's victory came as a surprise to "American Idol" followers, particularly those who frequent "American Idol" blogs and fansites. Between the two Season 8 finalists, Adam Lambert has topped Kris Allen in blog buzz by an average of about 51% since both singers made the Top 36 in Feburary, according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics. And while overall buzz for both has grown as the pool has narrowed, 16% more bloggers mentioned Adam Lambert instead of Kris Allen on May 19 after the final performances aired.
The pair's Twitter metrics tell a similar story, with tweets mentioning Lambert also consistently outnumbering tweets about Allen by 50%. And just as with blog buzz, tweets about Lambert on May 19 right after the voting for the winner opened outstripped tweets about Allen by 16%.
At the request of "American Idol" producers, iTunes keeps the download rankings for contestants' studio recordings under wraps. But when an Apple software malfunction in late April temporarily leaked the sales figures to the public, the data counted six of Adam Lambert's studio recordings among the Top 10 "Idol" downloads. According to the New York Post , the singer's interpretation of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," which he performed during Tuesday's final performance night, claimed the No. 1 spot.
Kris Allen, meanwhile, held three positions on the Top Downloads chart, with his recording of the song "Falling Slowly" landing at No. 3. While those numbers are not as impressive as Lambert's, the iTunes leak led "Idol" watchers to shift their attention towards Allen, who'd long been considered a "dark horse" contestant, and away from third-place contestant Danny Gokey, who held just one of the Top 10 downloads.
To be fair, one data-miner that focuses exclusively on votes has consistently called a tighter race between Lambert and his Season 8 contestants. DialIdol.com , the popular website that predicts the outcome of each episode based on the number of busy signals each contestants' phone line receives, said Wednesday morning that the final vote counts for Lambert and Allen were too close to call a winner, as they had been the week prior.
As the new "American Idol" Allen automatically wins a recording contract, but whether or not his buzz will translate to album sales remains to be seen. The Season 7 "Idol" champion, David Cook has sold 1,012,000 copies of his self-titled debut album since its November 2008 release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, who famously generated a loyal fanbase known as the "Soul Patrol," has only sold 704,000 copies of his debut album since its release in 2006.
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