'American Idol': The 'Adam Lambert effect?'

adam-lambert-chris-daughtry-david-cook.jpgIn a recent interview with Zap2it, Kara DioGuardi mentioned the "Adam Lambert effect" on this year's "American Idol." We'd like to posit that this "effect" pre-dates Lambert by several seasons.

Adam Lambert turned Country Night on its head last year by performing a sitar-music version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Here's a refresher:

Is changing a song like that really some kind of "Idol" break through by Adam Lambert? And does the "Adam Lambert effect" mean you can't cover somebody else's outside-the-box version of a well-known song? If so, it's certainly not the "Adam Lambert Effect." His sitar "Ring of Fire" is by Universal Hall Pass. Not a famous band, to be sure, but it's not like it was an Adam original.

So did this start happening seasons ago on "Idol?" We'd like to offer some counter arguments, in chronological order:

Fantasia Barrino's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" from season 3

Sure, it wasn't a huge change in the song, but it was Big Band Night and Fantasia did alter the song from its original version. Hey, we're talking the early seasons here, when contestants didn't have to think outside the box. We applaud the outside-the-box song choice on Big Band night.

Chris Daughtry's "Higher Ground" and "I Walk the Line" from season 5

Neither Daughtry's version of "Higher Ground" nor "I Walk the Line" were something he (or the music coaches) concocted themselves. The "Higher Ground" on Stevie Wonder night is basically the Red Hot Chili Peppers version and the "I Walk the Line" is a cover of the Live version of the song.

Katharine McPhee's "Over the Rainbow" from season 5

Eva Cassidy did it first, but a lot of people had never heard this version of the Judy Garland classic until Katharine McPhee knocked our socks off with it on "Idol."

Blake Lewis' "You Give Love a Bad Name" from season 6

Blake Lewis did his Blake thing to a lot of songs, but none moreso than "You Give Love a Bad Name." It also isn't a cover of a cover -- it was 100% Blake.

David Cook's "Daytripper," "Eleanor Rigby," "Billie Jean" and "Hello" from season 7

Maybe we should actually call it the "David Cook effect." He didn't do it first, but he did do it the most. Our person favorite was "Hello." But again, David Cook did all covers of covers (Whitesnake, Doxology, Chris Cornell, Incubus, respectively).

Brooke White's "Love is a Battlefield" from season 7

This might be our favorite change-up. It's such an 80s pop song but when Brooke stripped it down and acousti-fied it, the song took on a whole new meaning. We thought it went from cheesy pop to a really heart-rending piece, particularly on the last line.

Ju'Not Joyner's "Hey There Delilah" from season 8

Hey, a person who didn't even make the Top 12 is on the list! Ju'Not did an R&B version of the catchy coffeehouse ditty and a lot of poeple thought it was great. In fact, many felt he got robbed by not advancing or getting to compete for the Wild Card.

Kris Allen's "Heartless" from season 8

We feel like Kris Allen could have the biggest beef with it being referred to as the "Adam Lambert effect." Poor Kris has been overshadowed by Lambert all over the place. Allen also really changed up a song in season 8 (though it was a cover of The Fray's version) so why isn't it the "Kris Allen effect?" Or the "Kridam effect?"

What do you guys think? Does it matter if it's an original change, as opposed to a cover of a cover? Within the cover of a cover category, does it matter if the artist is really well-known (Incubus) verses a lesser-known artist (Universal Hall Pass)?

Here's what we think -- it's great when performers change up songs, whether it's an original thought or a cover of a cover because even the covers of covers tend to be unknown to a lot of the "Idol" viewers. We do think if it's a cover of a cover, the "Idol" should give credit where credit is due, especially if the doofy judges don't know it's a cover and act like the "Idol" has done the musical equivalent of reinventing the wheel.

That all being said -- we don't think this is the "Adam Lambert effect." We think you can legitimately trace it back to Chris Daughtry (cover) and Blake Lewis (original). Sorry Fantasia, your version wasn't different enough for us, but we applaud the effort.

Finally, in Kara DioGuardi's defense, the person asking the question in the interview used "Adam Lambert effect" and she went with it. Kara did not use that phrase herself. Secondly, last year was her first season on "Idol," so it very well may seem like the "Adam Lambert effect" to her.

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