Between Eurovision and 'American Idol'

A mascara-wearing gay Jew who sings like the devil might just be a little too close to reality.

Adam Lambert 88 248 (photo credit: )
Adam Lambert 88 248
(photo credit: )
It was the pop culture addict's overdose - the annual Eurovision contest finals aired at the same time as the late-night repeat of the American Idol semifinals. So I did what any self-respecting addict would do - constantly toggled between the channels. Frothy escapism is what the annual Eurovision contest is all about. And as the world economy continues to tank, and people are looking for even more detours from reality, it was clear that viewers were not going to be jazzed about a heartfelt plea for peace from Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad - Israel's entry in Saturday night's contest. Amid the glitter, belly dancing, acrobats and manic violin solos, "There Must Be Another Way" presented itself as a refreshing dose of understated sincerity, with the only novelty being that the Jewish singer looked Arab and vice versa. But I'm sure that point was lost on the majority of the viewers/voters, as was the naïve message of the song - one of the few songs, if any, with a message. The mindless Norwegian winning entry, "Fairytale," entirely deserved the accolades it received - it's the quintessential Eurovision song - gimmicky, cloying and hummable - and one that Israel should begin tomorrow trying to emulate for next year's contest. Infinitely more interesting was the battle taking place on American Idol, which has come down to a showdown pitting light versus dark, good versus evil, character versus bland. With blue-eyed soul man Danny Gockey unfortunately eliminated, just the mascara-wearing front-running Adam Lambert is left against the boy-next-door Kris Allen. You gotta love it. Lambert represents everything middle Americans fear - forget the eyeliner; what about the goth hair, the Lucifer-like high register wails, his python-skin boots, his ambiguous sexual orientation? And … oh yeah, he's one of us - a Jew. Contrast that to the baby-faced Arkansas-bred Allen and his earnest voice, troubadour-like persona, simple acoustic guitar and apple-pie image. In any other year, Allen would have been a worthy idol, but in this Pepsi challenge, there's no comparison. Lambert is the star. It's clear that he possesses the superior voice, and he's already an "idol" in the making. But, as past American Idol winners demonstrate, Americans like their idols safe and unthreatening. That's why even though Lambert should be a shoo-in, it wouldn't be surprising at all if Allen walked away with the crown on Wednesday night, US time. Just like Eurovision viewers, Americans don't like to mix their entertainment escapism with anything close to resembling reality. And a mascara-wearing gay Jew who sings like the devil might just be a little too close to reality for some. Almost as much as an Israeli Jew and Israeli Arab singing together about peace.