Now that American Idol has come down to the top five contestants, the competition is getting even more vicious than it’s been all season, even more than in the weeks when Colton Dixon was voted off and Jessica Sanchez narrowly escaped a similar fate. Only but a few people in this world (only 10 of them, to be exact) know what it feels like to traverse this difficult chasm and come out on the other side with a record deal and the AI title. Kris Allen is one of them. Hollywood.com caught up with singer/songwriter — who was named the champ in season 8 — to pick his brain about this current crop of talent, success after Idol, and his new album.
“Song choice is the biggest thing, making sure you pick the best song you know how to sing,” the 26-year-old said regarding the remaining contestants and how they can make it until the very end. Allen even offered up advice to ensure that being comfortable with the audience doesn't turn into being "stagnant": “At this point, you kind of have to take a risk every week … and do things outside of the box that way you’re gaining fans instead of just keeping yours."
The current contestants should take heed, considering Allen is one of AI's biggest success stories. His latest album, Thank You Camellia, will be released May 22. “I got to spend a little more time on it, got to kind of put a little more of myself into it,” he said of his latest effort, “When I listen to the record, I think ‘This is what I wanted it to be.’ I don’t really think about it … I just put out the music that I know how to make.”
Still, Allen thinks season 11's final five is solid. “For me it was like, ‘I have to wow people every week,’ and these contestants do that. It’s going to be a surprise whoever goes off next from here on out.” Of course, Allen had the chance to meet the contestants when he stopped by to perform the week Colton was shockingly eliminated.
“Sadly, I talked to Colton after he got eliminated and he seemed to be in really good spirits," he said of the unfairly booted cast-off. "I tried to reaffirm him, let him know that he’s going to be fine. He knows exactly what he wants to do. As long as he has that in mind, he’s going to make music that people are going to want to listen to." Okay, if the thought of these two singers having such a sweet conversation doesn’t melt your heart, you probably need to go back and read that quote again.
So what did the AI champ think of Colton's faux rival Phillip Phillips' controversial move to perform a lesser-known Dave Matthews Band song that all but sent judge Jennifer Lopez into a panic? Allen, who described Phillips as "really good," told Hollywood.com, “I feel like he kinda does what he wants to do, and that’s a good thing,” Allen said, "[But] if you’re going to pick a song that no one knows, you kind of have to make it epic and I don't know if it was as epic as it should have been. But kudos to him for doing what he wants to do and playing the music he wants to play and letting everyone know what kind of artist he wants to be.”
Does that mean Phillips' gutsy move has Allen's vote? Sorry gossip hounds, but the singer, who said he's been watching all season ("I can’t say that I have the past couple of years") is staying decidedly neutral until the very end. "I think they’re really, really talented … I’m rooting for all of them.”
Do you agree with Allen’s advice? Do you think Phillips' performance should have been a little more “epic”?
Allen’s album hits stores May 22 and Idol’s Top Five hit the stage May 2 at 8 PM on Fox.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler