For "American Idols," competition never ends.
And at Nassau Coliseum last night, the laid-back Allen showed he has a ways to go before he reaches his potential. (The "Idols" return to the Coliseum for another show tonight.)
Though his likable personality and warm voice came through, his song choices didn't have a lot of flash - Matchbox Twenty's "Bright Lights" isn't exactly a barnburner in the best of circumstances and the dressed-up jazzier version of Kanye West's "Heartless" lost some of its punch.
Lambert, on the other hand, is ready for stardom right now. He injected artistry and even some sexiness into a traditionally straightforward show. His vocal heroics and hip thrusts made Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" a blast, while the Prince-ly take on David Bowie's "Let's Dance" were pretty thrilling.
There were some true surprises, though. Anoop Desai's gorgeous take on "Always on My Mind" could have gotten him to the finals. Lil Rounds, who underperformed on the show, was markedly better on Alicia Keys' "No One" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," pushing the possibility that she's this year's undiscovered gem, like Jennifer Hudson.
Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for Matt Giraud, who somehow seemed like he was twice his age, doing "Hard to Handle" and Megan Joy Corkery has gotten worse, emphasizing odd syllables and weird notes in Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry on Their Own."
She serves as reminder that the public spotlight won't be shining on all of them for much longer.