Posted by: dcmjlive | June 3, 2009

Idols Revisited: Kris Allen

I know like the Idolatry episode of Kris Allen, people reading my blog have awaited this entry the most. And of course, we need to end with the winner of the season…unless of course I feel the urge to discuss Allison but given that I’m going to nerd mode with my college studies, this would most probably be the last blog until next year. But let me start with a quick story:

There was a person who had survived all the odds by flying under the radar and with by a sudden surprise took the competition by storm and won it all. Who am I talking about? Amber Brkich(-Mariano).

What!?!?! I thought we’re talking about Kris Allen, isn’t he the main point of the blog? You must be saying right now. But heck, season 8 of American Idol is my favorite season and coincidentally season 8 of Survivor (Survivor: All Stars) was also my favorite season. And I just realized this a couple of nights ago (when I wrote the Adam Idols Revisited) so I decided, what a good way to revisit Kris by comparing him to a similar case that happened a few years ago.

These two reality shows, American Idol and Survivor, have a few common elements. Well, one of course is that it involves real people. Second, they used a voting system to see who would be eliminated that week (or 3 days in survivor time). Third, to be able to win, you actually need to outwit, outplay and outlast each contestant to be titled the titular title (redundancy intended) American Idol/Sole Survivor.

Both Amber and Kris, two of my favorite contestants as well, I wouldn’t lie about my bias were in many ways similar. With the little quip I gave up there, you definitely thought I would be referring to Kris. Because that was it exactly. Kris and Amber flew under the radar to surprise us all with a win well deserved. But many pundits would say (and have said) that Kris winning is the biggest upset of this whole Idol history. I want to prove that wrong. I know I have made two blogs on Kris winning already and to not be repetitive, the goal of this blog is to show you how he won. “On Kris Winning and No Boundaries” was my reaction to how he proved that there are No Boundaries with a big heart. “Kris, the True Frontrunner?” was an analytical show of his popularity during the show and how it increased and finally beat Adam’s popularity. But neither of the blogs tell you the how and why he won.

I’ve already alluded it so to not be too suspensful, I’ll tell you now that Kris’s biggest advantage was flying under the radar. It was how he was able to outwit, outplay and outlast the competition. So you’re telling me that Kris was actually strategic and played the field? Absolutely, positively, without a doubt, YES. Let’s retrace back.

Kris had one of the least exposures coming into the top 36. He was the cannon fodder dude as Slezak would put it and that if he didn’t pull of something amazing, he wouldn’t be able to advance. He had been shown for 9 seconds singing two lines of A Song for You, then as a backup singer of Matt and India in White Chocolate and then a second or two in the chair episode. If you have read the past blogs, you would know that I did remember Kris this early. A little bit of that was like Amber. She was one of my favorites in Survivor 2 where she first starred and even then, she seemed to be one of the most forgettable and under the radar contestants.

The top 36 came and Kris was part of the most talented group (as he admitted on Idolatry) in the season. With early favorites like Adam Lambert, Kai Kalama, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy and etc there, Kris was really one of those people on the immediate chopping block. And in Survivor, it did come to a point that pre-merge (the merge being like the top 13 of American Idol), Amber was also on the chopping block as one of the cannon fodder chicks for being the lone original Chapera member in the midst of the former Mogo Mogo/Saboga members. And you must be thinking, how the heck did Amber get through that and of course Kris?

Amber had made it seem that she wasn’t a big threat to her tribemates and that she’s too kind to be cut-off from the competition. Kris also appeared that way and that’s why the judges especially Simon, did not put him under the bus and actually praised him in a way that he praises cannon fodders. But Kris had an added strategy other than not seem like a threat, he wanted to make sure that his song was a very thought-provocative song that could spark that nerve that helps you remember people well. He became so likeable and talented that seemingly, he escaped the chopping block in favor of those that got cut who were more frontrunner-ish like Megan or Matt. (I can’t seem to remember if it was Colby Donaldson or Ethan Zohn who got booted that time in Survivor. Faulty memory.) Kris had made it to the merge of the three tribes of…I mean… top 13 from the three singing groups of American Idol.

Without that clearcut strategy, Kris would have not made it to the top 13. It was like a bullet that was triggered to the hearts of many audiences. Many would not agree with me, but genuinely, I thought Man in the Mirror was Kris’s first moment. He stripped down a Michael Jackson song to its core and made it suit him. And it is interesting that it was always seen that Michael Jackson songs were taboos on American Idol. As it would seem later on, Kris actually had a penchant for turning around Idol taboos into musical masterclass performances. It was this wit that would later on help him outlast people week after week.

In the top 13, Kristopher seriously was just playing for his survival. And he actually did another thing right. He helped people like Allison Iraheta not only choose a song but also rearrange it for them. Kara DioGuardi mentioned it during the judges’ comments and it was actually a great added advantage to him. Like Amber, he was made to seem likeable to his fellow contestants. There is no doubt in my mind that people couldn’t help but like Kris’s personality, even from that point on. What made him even more likeable (the correct word is adorable but I don’t want to use it) was when he and Katy were shown with their matching aprons and as two lovebirds. And it was weird how the songs as it progressed can’t help but make you feel that he was reaching out to you in the song. Man in the Mirror was a song of change that triggers people to make that change as well while Remember the Time, for me for you, had this subliminal message that “you would remember the time that you fell in love with my music and I”. The music in other words spoke to people. Not only was he outwitting people with his genius arrangements but he was making himself really likeable to be able to really outlast people.

A lot of Kris fans have told me that they fell in love with Kris during To Make You Feel My Love. This was the night that Randy said “tender moments from my dawg, Kris.” It was one of the few things that coined “tender puppy.” And how couldn’t you love puppies? His strategy of picking songs that related to him also had that side-effect of making you relate to the song that well. His songs also had a story arch of its own relating to how the audience was feeling the love from Kris. The sincerity from the song just blossomed out and I have a suspection that he was actually singing this song to Katy as a small aside.

Then when people were loving him back, it was just perfect for him to be singing How Sweet it is to be loved by you. It may not have been the intention because he may be just singing to his wife but the raw emotion made you think that you were the one loving him and that he was thanking you for it.

But the time where he was already truly outplaying people was with Ain’t No Sunshine. He introduced a new factor to the stage that he not only knew how to sing but also play the piano. He became a culmination of Brooke White, Jason Castro and David Cook in a nutshell. He became that true musician that not even Adam or Danny could match. Both Adam and Danny may have their technical skill in their high vocal ranges but Kris had technical proficiency with both the guitar and the piano. With that sort of proficiency, he more than made up for his lack of that proficiency to have a high range. But then again, current music nowadays doesn’t have singers with high vocal ranges. Adam and Danny had the bigger voice but were they the better singers, probably not. Singing does not only draw to the technical side of singing like sustaining pitch and what not but also being able to draw a connection out of people and really make an arrangement that suits you. Kris was outplaying the field with his musicality.

This musicality of his was underrated by the judges. Instead of hurting him, it helped even more as later on, he would pull of surprises that couldn’t have been more powerful had he been the frontrunner in the game. But more on that later.

He had struggled the worst with the Don Henley song as Kristopher loves to put it. And of course, like many pundits, Kris included, say, the pit was the pit of death. I loved how Slezak coins it the Silencing of the Lambs Pit of Death. But take note that even with a sucky song, he didn’t reach the bottom three. He had already gained a big fanbase waiting for him. By the time he sang Ain’t No Sunshine, his potential in connecting to songs was ultimately realized but not peaked like Adam with Mad World, thus gaining a sizable amount of fans steady to his side. His underkey strategizing had worked to save him for the second critical time.

And as Tarantino put it, Kris was the only one who was taking into spirit the game as he chose Falling Slowly. While others picked very old songs, Kris brought out again his penchant of picking songs you wouldn’t expect and just knock you over with the intense connection he has with the song. And literally, fans were falling slowly for Kris at this point.

By the time Kris sang She Works Hard for the Money, many had called Kris the darkhorse of the competition. Kristopher reveals that he had a hard time choosing a song and he saw that this song just had the best story line. Even on idol, his simple answer to Ryan’s question of why he chose the song was that it was about a girl who works hard for the money. And again, it was strategic for him to play around with the melody, bring the guitar and strip the song to its root message and be made yet again, the best of the night. So far, you can tell that Kris wasn’t just doing the second idol epoch thing where he changes up the song like David Cook, Chris Daughtry or Bo Bice but also makes the song connect to the viewers, which marks the third idol epoch. (To some extent, Adam had achieved this with Lamebert and failed to with Flamebert.)

This power of Ain’t No Sunshine, Falling Slowly and She Works Hard for the Money helped him reach the top three. Am I getting ahead of myself, no. With those performances bringing up Kris to the forefront, fans never ceased to recognize the story arc right in front of their eyes. He wooed the audiences with his rendition of The Way You Look Tonight while he innovated Come Together to a more current sound. And his fans were like Amber’s Rob that would do anything to protect their Kris from harms way. Being thrown under the bus during rock week gave that incling for fans to protect Kris from harms way. His strategy has made him outlast yet again more people.

But with two underrated performances to the eyes of others, he had to make sure that he survived the next cut. Kristopher repeats that his goal was to survive the next week and in Idolatry, he admitted that he chose Heartless to be able to create that moment. Even Adam said it was genius and it was the real proof I needed that Kris was really using his head to be able to get through the competition. As Kris would put it, he took a song that nobody thought he would pick and then just stripped it down yet again to its core and made people realize that it has a good message and a good melody. It is also what prompted Simon to call this thing a dingdong between Adam and Kris. If he were overpimped like Danny or Adam, the effect of Heartless may not have been as tremendous as it really was. It was a big booyah to everyone and made even Glamberts turned Bitterberts say that despite not liking Kris, they liked Heartless. Not only did he peak at the right time with the song but also, he took advantage of what others would be calling a disability.

When it came to the final two, the scenario of Rob-Amber repeats itself. (Hey, I may have veered away from these two but you know I needed to use it one last time for the finale.) Now, Rob was like Adam who played the game right in your face. We all knew how he schemed and deviced ways to outlast others. He was the frontrunner of that season. Adam was just as. Amber, however, had her strategy in place that she would outlast by winning the hearts of her tribemates and ultimately Rob to advance while still helping Rob scheme who would be voted out next. Kristopher, as I showed you, had a strategy too to outlast others and it was also by winning the hearts of the audience. (How could you be so heartless not to vote for Kris?)

Kris made his final cases with his last three songs. The reprised Ain’t No Sunshine proved to be even more emotionally thought out than the first time making the audiences know that he was truly deserving of the title. He stripped the song What’s Goin’ On also, which despite the judges’ comments actually made the moment of idol more intimate. It really wasn’t about setting up visual fireworks but sparks you get in your heart. Lastly, Kris’s No Boundaries proved to be the lesser of the two roadkills like Amber being the kinder of the two schemers.

Kris played the game outwitting people in a very subtle manner that was unexpected. Adam played the game outright by showing his prowess in the game. Who deserved it more, both did, just as Amber and Rob did. But who got voted as the sole-survivor/american idol… Amber and Kris. It was because Amber and Kris in the end seemed to be the more likeable and less polarizing as compared to Adam and Rob. (Adam and Rob were likeable but they were both polarizing as well.) It was a game of the fanbases and detractors and Kris had the most fans and the least detractors. It’s just as simple as that. Kris played to emotion, Adam played to vocal prowess. In the end, it was emotion that won over vocal prowess. The quiet but surprising person won over the loud but predictable person. People got too tired of Adam’s screaming while the jury got too tired of Rob’s scheming.

In the end, though, I think both are winners. And really, that’s all that matters. Amber and Rob got married by Holy Matrimony. Kris and Adam got bonded by having a piece of each other in the painted/unpainted thumb. And it’s this love that makes the ending much more spectacular and much more inspiring. Thank you for going on this blog with me and let’s all keep the love of KrAdam in our hearts.

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Responses

  1. п»ї
    Great Post. You find most blog posts littered with rubbish nowadays,
    however this has been a very informative post.


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