By 2009, I’d thought my relationship with American Idol had run its course. The talent competition delivered its most culturally impactful and decorated champion in its very first year (bring me that new music, Queen Kelly), and had had some, um, frustratingly inconsistent results after that. (His name rhymes with Baylor Nicks.) But in Season 8 of Fox’s juggernaut reality show, I found new purpose – a fresh and refreshing reason to keep tuning in. American Idol Season 8 was the year of Kradam, and it was good.
For the uninitiated, a primer:
Kradam is the name for the friendship (and whatever you choose to do in fic, lord knows I don’t judge) of Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, consecutively, the number 1 and number 2 of that season. Their union couldn’t have been more unexpected: Kris, a nice, salt-of-the-Earth boy from the Bible Belt, already married to his high school sweetheart; versus Adam, already auditioning to be Queen’s new frontman, unbeknownst to him, with jet-black manicures and a falsetto to die for. Adam came out to the public after the show; but he was already out in life, presumably to his fellow contestants as well. Kris and Adam were also rivals. Each had a fervent fanbase lighting up phone lines every week. (Or were we texting by that point? Maybe both. History is hard.) They were the clear frontrunners, with power vocalist Allison Iraheta trailing just behind.
Yes, they’re both nice to listen to and to look at. But what made this American Idol season one to remember was this opposites-attract, judgment-free friendship that played out for a national audience that included Kris’s Bible Belt neighbors, coastal hipsters, and everyone in between. Kris and Adam fell into friend-love on American Idol and embraced everything that was different about the other. And in this time of turmoil and mud-slinging, I think it would do us good to remember it. Here’s what I love the most about this AI pairing:
1. Boys Being Affectionate With Boys!
You know this is my thing. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine, but you’re wrong and I hate you.
I love that Adam and Kris’s relationship was physical, and not just one-armed bro hugs. They embraced a LOT onstage (see the finale hug where Kris buries his lil’ face into Adam’s shoulder when Ryan calls his name), and were pretty touchy-feely in interviews too. I say this not to imply anything sexual or romantic about their whole thing, but to remind men that HUGS FEEL NICE. I am SURE that an experience like the one they shared was stressful and mad intense. And reaching out for/reaching out with a little love probably made it a little easier on both of them. Also, they LIKE EACH OTHER. It’s okay to be nice to people you like and to show them that you do. It’s sad how revolutionary it felt to watch a young straight guy refuse to fall in line with that bigoted belief that being physical with a male friend (especially one who’s openly gay) is some kind of coded message to the world. But it was, and with every bear hug, Kradam healed the world a little bit more.
2. Exposing Secret Crushes
In his post-Idol Rolling Stone cover profile, Adam came clean about his first impressions of Kris. (Who, it cannot be denied, is a babely babe.) He said:
“Distracting! He’s the one guy I found attractive in the whole group on the show: nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type — except that he has a wife. I mean, he’s open-minded and liberal, but he’s definitely 100 percent straight.”
I don’t want to give too much credit to anyone for being a decent human being, but we are in desperate times. So let me underline here that Kradam developed this friendship while both of them were aware that there was an attraction on one side. I feel like that’s hard for any two humans to do, let alone two humans in these circumstances. I love that they were fine talking about it with each other and joking about it in front of the world. It’s not weird unless you make it weird. And whatever your orientation, it’s always a compliment when someone’s into you, right? So I’ve heard. I have such little experience myself.
Anyway, Kris had nothing but lovely things to say about Adam in return, providing straight guys around the world with a blueprint on how not to be a raging asshole. Here’s how he described their friendship to EW shortly after the season:
“For me, I feel like I relate to a lot of people. And we got to be roommates. It was just like this closeness, you know? I don’t know what happened. I think we just felt each other’s energy, and it was nice. It just became this really good friendship. Yeah, I adore the guy. I think he’s a really great guy. I’m proud of him.”
3. They Were The Best Of Two Worlds
Kris is pure WGWG; Adam is all glam rock. Certain AI seasons have felt stale: ballad singer vs. ballad singer; country-lite artist vs. country-lite artist. But Kradam’s stylistic differences mirrored their demographic differences, making for one of the most entertaining finales in the show’s history.
4. This Joke
Fast-foward to 1:19, and enjoy.
5. They Sound SO GOOD TOGETHER
It’s been a minute since Kris and Adam have sung together, but let me put out into the world that I’m ready to drop some serious cash on the reunion tour. I’d also settle for an Apple session. Or a grainy video shot on a 2007 Nokia. I don’t care, I just want to hear them. Alison can come too. So can all of 2009, what the hell.
No matter how long this new version of Idol goes on, I doubt it’ll produce a friendship quite as pure as Kris and Adam’s. Do you have a favorite Kradam moment? Tell us what it is in the comments!
Featured Image Source: Today Show