Even before reading about the latest controversy concerning Kris Allen’s unexpected victory in this year’s American Idol, I had seen that iTunes was featuring an “album” of Adam Lambert’s “Season 8 Favorite Performances.”After wavering a bit, I decided to download the album, and I’m glad I did. I really like several of the tracks, especially Lambert’s cover of U2’s “One”:

While I don’t vote for American Idol and therefore can’t complain too much about Allen’s winning the competition, I do watch it. Lambert was clearly the better performer, especially during the final show. I decided that purchasing his album was the proper way to show my support for Lambert.

I really like that his studio performances are vocally restrained and well-arranged. He’s got a great recording voice, and after listening to the album I understand why the judges were always so elated with his singing, even when the live performance veered a little too much into screechiness. Based on these recordings, I think he could do as well as Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Kris Allen too, especially when he wears the right kind of shirt, one that clings to his hot chest and shows a little skin! He’s also a very good coffee shop singer, a genre that I also like from time to time. I just think Lambert is going to have broader appeal.

I also think that the show is now a victim of its own homophobia. For years, the judges have criticized gay singers for being “too theatrical.” Now that they have a theatrical singer who could really sing, they couldn’t ultimately take back the fact that they had cultivated the audience’s homophobia for so long. Instead of preparing their middle American audience to welcome and celebrate a potential gay winner, they had trained viewers to vote against gay acting guys. So, now they have a good coffee shop singer to sell as the American Idol instead of the first queer American Idol.

In the long run, I doubt any of this will matter. Lambert is going to have a good career. Even if everything else fails, he can come out and get the gay audience, who tends to be extremely faithful to its out-and-proud (Ellen Degeneres) or gay-affirming (Cyndi Lauper) celebrities when their careers need a boost.

In the mean time, I’ll be listening to Lambert’s Idol performances. I also really like his studio version of “Change Is Gonna Come” and “Whole Lotta Love,” both songs that Tina Turner (my idol) once covered. His “Black or White” is also really good.

I would love to see Lambert queer up “Whole Lotta Love” in concert:

You’ve been learnin, baby, I’ve been learnin,
All them good times, baby, baby, I’ve been yearnin,
Way, way down inside honey, you need it,
I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you my love.

Wanna whole lotta love?
Wanna whole lotta love?
Wanna whole lotta love?
Wanna whole lotta love?

You’ve been coolin, baby, I’ve been droolin,
All the good times I’ve been misusin,
Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you every inch of my love,
Gonna give you my love.
Yeah! all right! let’s go!

This could be the sexiest gay song ever if the double entendres–deep inside, every inch of my love, etc–are properly utilized. I hope he does it.

[Addendum: I found this post-Idol interview of Lambert. Clearly, AI must have stipulated in his contract that he can’t say the actual words, “I’m gay.” Why else would he dance around the subject so explicitly?]