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Kristopher Neil Allen (born June 21, 1985), better known as Kris Allen, is an Americanmarker singer-songwriter from Conway, Arkansasmarker, and the winner of the eighth season of American Idol. Prior to Idol, he self-released a 2007 album entitled Brand New Shoes.

Allen's post-Idol self-titled album was released on November 17, 2009, through Jive Records. On September 21, 2009, "Live Like We're Dying", the first single from his major label debut album, was released. It became available on iTunes on September 25, 2009. The song landed on #41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as its highest peak position. The music video for "Live Like We're Dying" was later released on November 6, 2009. On November 9, 2009, AOL premiered all 13 tracks from his upcoming album as a listen-only feature, for AOL's "Listening Party".


Early life

Allen was born in Jacksonville, Arkansasmarker, to Kimberly (née Wood) and Neil Allen. He is the elder of two sons; his younger brother, Daniel, is a college cheerleading coach. Allen is a Christian and served as assistant music director at the non-denominational New Life Church in both Conway, Arkansasmarker, and Little Rock, Arkansasmarker. Allen has participated in missionary work around the world, including in Burmamarker, Moroccomarker, Mozambiquemarker, South Africa, Spainmarker, and Thailandmarker.

Allen's interest in music began very early. He began playing the viola in elementary school and went on to play the instrument in the Mills University Studies High School orchestra, eventually winning a spot in the Arkansas all-state orchestra. Additionally, he taught himself to play the guitar at age 13, and also plays the piano. His musical influences, as stated in his Idol confessionals, include the Beatles, Jamie Cullum, Jason Mraz, John Mayer and Michael Jackson. He has described his decision to audition for American Idol as a "last hurrah" before giving up his pursuit of a music career.


After high school, Allen moved to Conway, Arkansasmarker, to attend the University of Central Arkansas, where he was a business major and a member of Chi Alpha campus ministries. He soon dropped out to pursue music professionally, performing in local bars and working as a shoe salesman to make ends meet. Allen planned on going back to college to finish his degree and "get a real job", but instead decided to audition for American Idol along with his brother Daniel and his friend Cale Mills.

Personal life

Allen married his girlfriend of seven years, Katherine "Katy" O'Connell, on September 26, 2008. The two began dating back in Allen's junior year of high school.

American Idol


Allen auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol in Louisville, Kentuckymarker, with his brother Daniel, who did not make it to Hollywood. In the early stages of the season, he was among the finalists (along with Allison Iraheta) that received the least amount of screen time. Only several seconds of his first audition (and neither of his Hollywood Week solo performances) were shown, although his group performance with White Chocolate (including fellow finalist Matt Giraud) was aired in its entirety. The judges also asked him to participate in an un-aired sing-off with another contestant before they allowed him to enter the semifinals round.

Throughout the competition, Allen received many compliments for his folk-inspired interpretations of modern pop songs. He played several instruments during his performances, including the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar, the keyboard, and the piano. His performance of "To Make You Feel My Love" as part of the Top 11 earned praise from the judges, with Simon Cowell commenting, "I am genuinely beginning to think you have a shot of doing well in this competition." In the finals, he performed his own arrangement of "Ain't No Sunshine" on a keyboard, with a few musicians on stage, which earned praise from the judges. Cowell lauded it as Allen's "best performance so far."

On the first Top 7 night, Allen chose to sing the Oscar-winning song from the indie film Once. While Randy Jackson described it as "pitchy from note one", Kara DioGuardi declared it "one of your best moments ever." Due to time constraints, Paula Abdul and Cowell did not comment, but on the following night's results show, Cowell stated "Kris, you were brilliant." Allen subsequently received a signed record and other gifts from the original artists, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. On the second Top 7 show, Allen brought back the guitar for the fourth time and performed an original, acoustic version of "She Works Hard for the Money", complete with bongo drums and the band on stage. This earned praise from all four judges, with Abdul remarking "There aren’t many men who are willing to shop in the women’s department. You shopped and found a perfect fit." For his second Top 3 performance, Allen impressed the judges with an acoustic arrangement of Kanye West's "Heartless", prompting Jackson to state that he preferred it to West's original and The Fray's cover version. Cowell agreed and said, "I had written you out of the competition but that has changed after that performance." This performance helped Kris move on to the finals and win.

After being voted into the Top 3, Allen returned home to Arkansas and his hometown to film the material for the next two American Idol episodes. Allen's homecoming parade was greeted by a crowd estimated to be greater than 20,000. Allen performed at three concerts in Little Rockmarker and Conway, Arkansasmarker, playing many of his popular songs during the competition, including "Man in the Mirror", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Falling Slowly" and "She Works Hard for the Money" at the venues, as well as "Come Together" at the studio of local Fox affiliate KLRT-TVmarker. He accompanied himself on all of these songs with his guitar.

During the final performance show, Allen performed a reprise of "Ain't No Sunshine", Simon Fuller's choice of "What's Goin' On" and the coronation song, "No Boundaries". During the final results show, he performed a duet with Keith Urban, singing Urban's single "Kiss a Girl", as well as a series of medleys with his fellow Season 8 contestants. Before the results were announced, Allen performed "We Are the Champions" with eventual runner-up Adam Lambert and Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen.

On May 20, 2009, Kris Allen was declared the winner of the eighth season of American Idol, becoming the first married contestant to claim the title, as well as the sixth winner from the Southern United States (only Jordin Sparks, raised in Glendale, Arizonamarker, and David Cook, from Blue Springs, Missourimarker, were from outside the South). Allen also became the first winner to accept a trophy shaped like a microphone. Nearly 100 million votes were cast during the finale, setting a new world record for a televised singing competition. Unlike the previous season, the winning margin was undisclosed. Numerous sources, including the Associated Press, claimed that the margin "wasn't even close". Allen has admitted that the alleged disparity in votes was a "total surprise" to him.

Certain commentators labeled the win as an "upset" since runner-up Adam Lambert had received a significant amount of media attention throughout the season and was widely perceived to be the show's front-runner. His victory was seen as highly controversial as viewers and the media speculated about the details of the result. However, during the Top 3 results show, host Ryan Seacrest had revealed that the margin between Allen and Lambert was less than a million votes. Fox and AT&T have stated that they "stand by the outcome" and are "absolutely certain" that "Kris Allen is the American Idol".


Week Theme Song choice Original artist Performance order Result
Audition Auditioner's Choice "A Song for You" Leon Russell/Donny Hathaway N/A Advanced
Hollywood First Solo "For Once in My Life" Stevie Wonder N/A Advanced
Hollywood Group Performance "I Want You Back" The Jackson 5 N/A Advanced
Hollywood Second Solo "Everything" Michael Bublé N/A Advanced
Top 36/
Semi-Final 2
Billboard Hot 100 Hits to Date "Man in the Mirror" Michael Jackson 6 Advanced
Top 13 Michael Jackson "Remember the Time" Michael Jackson 6 Safe
Top 11 Grand Ole Oprymarker "Make You Feel My Love" Bob Dylan 3 Safe
Top 10 Motown "How Sweet It Is " Marvin Gaye 2 Safe
Top 9 Top Downloads "Ain't No Sunshine" Bill Withers 9 Safe
Top 8 Year They Were Born "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" Don Henley 2 Safe
Top 7 Songs from the Cinema "Falling Slowly" - Once Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová 6 Safe
Top 71 Disco "She Works Hard for the Money" Donna Summer 2 Safe
Top 5 Rat Pack Standards "The Way You Look Tonight" Frank Sinatra 1 Bottom 3
Top 4 Rock and Roll Duet
"Renegade" with Danny Gokey
"Come Together"
The Beatles
Top 3 Judges' Choice3
Contestant's Choice
Kanye West
Top 2 Contestant's Choice
Simon Fuller's Choice
Coronation Song

"Ain't No Sunshine"
"What's Going On"
"No Boundaries"

Bill Withers
Marvin Gaye
Kris Allen/Adam Lambert


  • Due to the judges using their one save to save Matt Giraud, the Top 7 remained intact for another week.
  • It was only announced that Allison Iraheta received the lowest number of votes this week. The other member(s) of the bottom two or three were never revealed, and the safe contestants were announced in random order.
  • Song selected by Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi.


After Allen's victory, he has been on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Access Hollywood, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Early Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's Fox News show, Huckabee, on which Allen sang a cover of The Beatles' song "Yesterday" with Huckabee accompanying him on bass guitar, and Good Morning America, in which Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert and fellow American Idol winner David Cook performed together as a part of their Summer Concert Series. He was also a guest on Larry King Live (guest hosted by Ryan Seacrest) along with runner-up Adam Lambert, judge Paula Abdul, and the rest of the top ten finalists. His debut single, "No Boundaries", was released on May 20, 2009 on iTunes alongside Lambert's version. Allen's version of the song debuted at #11 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for the week of May 29, 2009.

Allen's post-show tour also included a trip to Disney's Hollywood Studiosmarker at Walt Disney World Resortmarker, where a parade was held in his honor. During his time at Disney, he visited The American Idol Experiencemarker, where he announced the winners of the day's competition. Shortly afterward, Allen returned to his hometown of Conway, Arkansas for the first time following the conclusion of the competition.

On June 5, 2009, Allen performed at the Walmartmarker Annual Shareholders' Meeting 2009, and participated in a brief skit with host Ben Stiller. In addition to renditions of "No Boundaries" and "Heartless", Allen sang a duet with Motown legend Smokey Robinson on The Temptations classic "Get Ready". On June 7, 2009, Allen performed the National Anthem at Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals to a packed house including Adam Levine, Jack Nicholson, Rihanna, Paula Abdul and Leonardo DiCaprio. Following the performance, which was described as "executed to perfection," the announcement was made that Allen had signed a record deal with Jive Records (along with fellow finalist Allison Iraheta). His major label debut is now scheduled for a Fall 2009 release. In the announcement, Allen stated about his upcoming album, "Everyone's been asking me what it's going to sound like. It will be very similar to what you heard from me on the show -- definitely in the pop/rock genre. I can't wait to get started!"

Kris is rumored to be working with Claude Kelly, David Hodges, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Salaam Remi and Joe King of The Fray on his debut album. He is also reportedly working with Toby Gad , Alex Band of The Calling, Dan Wilson of Semisonic, Chris Daughtry and Mat Kearney for the album. Kris's debut single, "Live Like We're Dying" (a cover of a b-side track of The Script released in Japanmarker), was released via Z100 in New York on September 21, 2009.

Allen performed with David Gray as part of Boston's Mix 104.1 End of Summer bash September 19, 2009 at the Rooftop Pool at The Colonnade Hotel. Kris will also be performing at the Live in the Vineyard event in Napa on November 8, along with Collective Soul, A Fine Frenzy, and Parachute.

On November 6, 2009, his music video for "Live Like We're Dying" premiered on AOL's

Allen's self-titled album was released on November 17, 2009. After its first week of sales, the album debuted at 11 on the Billboard 200 after selling just over 80,000 copies.


Brand New Shoes (2007– )

Kris Allen's musical career began in 2007, when he wrote and self-produced an album entitled Brand New Shoes with college friends and bandmates Michael Holmes (drums) and Chase Erwin (bass). 600 copies were given to friends and family. Songs from the album were widely distributed online during his time on Idol.

Kris Allen (2009-present)

On October 25, 2009, live at the Miami Dolphins tailgate party, Allen debuted 3 songs from his self-titled album: "Can't Stay Away", "Written All Over My Face", and "Before We Become Undone".

Allen's entire album was streamed for free on AOL on November 9, 2009.


Studio albums

Year Album details Peak positions
2007 Brand New Shoes
2009 Kris Allen
  • Released: November 17, 2009
  • Label: Jive/19
11 50
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Digital albums

This album charted from legal digital downloads.
Year Album US Sales
2009 Season 8 Favorite Performances 50 25,000+


Year Single Peak chart positions Album

2009 "No Boundaries" 11 26 19 13 92 American Idol Season 8
"Live Like We're Dying" A 41 38 21 18 Kris Allen

  • A Current single.

Digital singles

These songs all charted from legal digital downloads.
Year Single Chart Positions Album

2009 "Heartless" 16 29 39 American Idol

live performances
"Ain't No Sunshine" 37 68
"Apologize" 66
"Falling Slowly" 94
"What's Going On" 107
"To Make You Feel My Love" 113
"—" denotes the single failed to chart or not released

Music videos

Year Song Director
2009 "Live Like We're Dying" Marco Puig

Awards and nominations

Year Presenter Award Result
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice Male Reality/Variety Star
Choice Summer Tour (shared with American Idol Top 10)
Relly Awards Best Newbie
People's Choice Awards Break-Out Musical Artist


External links

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