May 21, 2009 / 9:05 PM / 8 years ago

Kris Allen's "Idol" win chalked up to likability

<p>Winner Kris Allen poses for photographers at the finale of Season 8 of "American Idol" in Los Angeles May 20, 2009.Phil McCarten</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kris Allen's "American Idol" win over presumed front-runner Adam Lambert was a triumph of quiet likability and not as unexpected as some fans imagined, some pop culture experts said on Thursday.

Lambert, 27, was widely considered the favorite going into this week's two-part finale, in large part because of consistent praise from the show's four judges.

Arkansas student Allen, 23, looked shocked when he was announced the winner on Wednesday after almost 100 million votes were cast for the two finalists.

But Time magazine critic James Poniewozik said in a blog post that the TV singing competition favors contestants who embody a story, and for that reason he expected a win by Allen.

"Over the season, he grew in stage presence and seeming confidence, creating a narrative of a sweet guy next door blossoming before our eyes," Poniewozik wrote.

In a New York Times article titled "'American Idol': The Triumph of Soft Rock," writer Jon Caramanica said Allen's "innocuousness proved to be no liability."

Caramanica said Allen will likely produce an album that could get regular play on cable channel VH1.

"In other words, the new soft rock, a post-Coldplay movement that most tastemakers ignore but remains relevant to broad swaths of the country," he wrote.

With his usual bluntness, "Idol" judge Simon Cowell talked Allen down a notch the day after his win.

"If you allow America to vote, you live with the vote," Cowell said on "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles morning radio show.

"I wouldn't have said he was the best singer in the competition though. I think he's like a little puppy dog," said Cowell, who had clearly favored the more showy Lambert.

Allen and Lambert have heaped praise on each other since the finale.

"I feel like he deserves this as much as I do," Allen said backstage after his win on Wednesday.

Musical theater actor Lambert told reporters Allen won "because he's a great artist."

While much was made in the media of the possibility that some voters were influenced by Lambert's showy style, stagy performances and pictures circulated online of him kissing a man, Caramanica wrote in the New York Times that the runner-up is "an old fashioned song-and-dance man."

"If Mr. Lambert was hiding something, it wasn't his sexual preference -- it was his conservatism," Caramanica wrote. "If only he'd have let America see the real him."

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant

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