The result was no surprise. Adam Lambert was the third-party candidate this season. The closes "Idol" has come to electing someone this unconventional was back when Clay Aiken finished second. Lambert was extreme and extraordinary he wasn't going to win. He was too over-the-top, too sexually disoriented, too campy, too everything. It's surprising he lasted as long as he did. Most likely, lots of perturbed Danny Gokey fans made sure he wasn't going to steamroll another happy-loving nice guy. Mainstream goes vanilla again.
Lambert will be just fine. He took what he needed from this show, plus more. He'll make some kind of rock record, endorse ... cosmetics (?), do theater. Kris Allen's road ahead is less certain. His field of competion now includes Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 and John Mayer. Hard to imagine him standing out in that crowd.
The larger picture is just as cloudy: Where does Idol go from here? Viewership is way down again; and the show has become numbingly predictable. The fourth-judge experiment was a failure. Kara DioGuardi added nothing to the chemistry, and that coronation song she wrote was a bucket of warm spit. Aside from Simon Cowell, the other judges offer nothing but worn-out shtick.
The show has produced several successful recording artists -- six in eight years: Kelly Clarkson, Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, David Cook. But that's only 15 percent of the top 5 over eight years. And only three of those finished first. Not a good track record.
The show will be back next year, it looks like; everyone has contracts to honor. But it looks even more likely that this juggernaut may not live to be 10 years old. Slowly but certainly, this show is singing its own swan song.