On Wednesday night's Idol finale, after nearly 100 million votes and two hours of star-studded filler, the American Idol audience's collective jaw dropped as flamboyant front-runner Adam Lambert took home the silver, and low-key Kris Allen, considered a talented vocalist and arranger but a long shot for the win from the start, finished in first. But, as former Idol runner-ups Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson have shown, oftentimes winning the crown isn't everything. In fact, sometimes it's better not to win.
Adam's unexpected loss begs the obvious question: What's Lambert's next move? (Check out photos of Lambert in his leather-and-spandex glory — and how American Idol's past stars have fared in their post-show careers.)
After the finale, Lambert spoke about his plans with MTV News. "My dream now is to make a really dope record, to do something new, push the boundaries a little bit, push people's buttons, open people's minds up a little bit," he said. "I know that we're gonna start working on some music right away, and that's what I can't wait to do — to collaborate, to write, to co-write and create visuals that go along with the music."
Here are some of Lambert's other options as he rides his Idol momentum to his next project:
• Fill the vacant frontman spot in Queen
Over the weekend, RollingStone.com's readers suggested Lambert would be the perfect candidate for Queen's suddenly open job. Lambert did just that on last night's finale, performing "We Are the Champions" with Brian May and Co. during what may have been a de facto audition. But Michael Slezak, Entertainment Weekly's Idol writer, points to Chris Daughtry, who was courted by Fuel following his Idol dismissal four seasons ago, and says Lambert should take his own path. "The powers that be at 19 Entertainment and the labels that get first dibs on him are going to want to see him establish himself as a current, relevant recording artist, not a replacement on a reunion tour," he says.
• Take on the task of reviving glitter rock
Lambert has already earned the title "glam-rock sex god" from our own Rob Sheffield, and Slezack thinks Adam is likely to embrace the sort of fist-pumping spandex-wrapped sound that grunge killed off in the early 1990s — the kind of music Constantine Maroulis currently sings in Broadway's Rock of Ages. "There's a lot of good vibes towards glam rock music from a certain segment of, say, 25- to 45-year-olds, who dig that sound and wouldn't mind hearing it return to the radio," Slezack says. "I think he has more in common with Cinderella and Winger and Mötley Crüe than Daughtry or Nickelback. He has more of a hair-metal vibe to his voice than he does with anything that's happening in current rock radio." MTV News Idol expert Jim Cantiello agrees: "I think the smartest thing for him to do is get into the studio and put out a crazy, funky glam rock album that we haven't heard in decades, and go all out with it," Cantiello says. "I think it would be cool if he put out a record that sounded like Brian Eno could have put it out."
• Go Gaga
MJ Santilli, founder of the popular Idol blog MJsBigBlog.com, says Adam could make a strong pure dance record, but Idol would more likely "want a record that's a big hit, something that can compete with the Lady Gagas and the Katy Perrys and the Pinks of the world." Cantiello thinks "Poker Face" should lead the way: "He needs to get on the Lady Gaga train, because he is the male Lady Gaga."
• Belt on Broadway
With a history in theater (he was now famously a star in Wicked), it would be easy for the smooth-moving Lambert to slip onto the Great White Way. "I hope he gets into a studio real quick and puts out an album. If that doesn't work out for him, I think he'll be on Broadway in no time, and his fans will flock to that," Cantiello says. "And I'm sure people on Broadway are going to tailor musicals around him." Plus, there's a fresh slate of rock-oriented musicals on the way with Bono and the Edge's Spider-Man project and Green Day's American Idiot show.
Tell us what you think — is Lambert Vegas-bound as the next Danny Gans, or will he capitalize on his moment with Slash during rock week and audition for Velvet Revolver? Share your thoughts in the comments.