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Review: Kris Allen, the kid's alright

Kris cd 

Kris Allen's victory over Adam Lambert in May on the eighth season finale of American Idol, not to mention other lop-sided, questionable victories such as Ruben Studdard over Clay Aiken on season two, makes the need for a change in how votes are counted glaringly real. Idol should take a page from Dancing With the Stars, which gives off the appearance of being more trustworthy and above-board, and factor combined percentages of votes from the judges and public and limit the number of times any one person can text in a vote, as Dancing does.

This would keep Idol closer to honest and give edgier (Adam) contestants a chance against cuddlier, bland, teen-friendly ones (Kris).

All of this is said not to damn Kris for beating Adam who has, far and away, garnered more attention for his coming album than the lower-key Kris whose performances on the Idols Live Tour this summer were the equivalent of invisible ink. Instantly forgettable.

This can also lead a non-fan (I'll cop to that) to dread Kris' self-titled debut (out Nov. 17) but the label's serviced an advance and, surprise, overall it's better than expected. He transcends this critic's expectations and fans should be most satisfied.

But first you'll have to get beyond the awful first single and opening track, Live Like We're Dying. To Kris' credit, he didn't write this abomination (it's a cover of a song by the obscure band, The Script) but he makes matters worse by singing it in a faux hip-hop/urban accent. It's little wonder such a dunderheaded move has been met with a collective yawn from the buying public.

Kris also struggles to find his own voice on the bouncy R&B-rock Can't Stay Away and Written All Over My Face so he borrows Adam Levine's. Swap these tunes for any two on Maroon 5's latest and no one would be the wiser. At least those two tracks provide some rhythmic energy so they earn a pass.

But Kris finds a workable pop/rock style of his own on the upbeat Kris Allen and its pleasures all come from his songwriting hand. He cowrote most of the album and all of its highlights, like the truly pretty Let It Rain with his skilled piano bed framing the memorable melody and the McCartneyesque-pop buoyancy of Alright With Me, are his. Fine tunes.

Admirably, Kris kept Kara DioGuardi's hack songs off his album (wish Carrie Underwood could have done the same) and bowed to concession just once by including a more produced cover of his Idol standout, Kanye West's Heartless.

The latter's OK and when Kris isn't trying to sound like someone he's not, like an off-the-shelf contemporary R&B vocalist, and when he sings in his own superior voice he's engaging. Kris Allen starts off with a major hurdle (that opening single) but ultimately winds up as one of the more likable, artistically valid albums from an Idol winner. In fact, song-for-song, Kris easily trumps the weakest Idol champ debuts (David Cook, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard.) He even comes out ahead of Kelly Clarkson at this stage of his career. Remember, Kelly exploded on her second album, not her overproduced and generic debut.

Follow on Twitter @HowardCohen



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wow! You were nice! BTW, even though I still can't stand Adam Lambert, you were right. I sorta forgot about Kris. Won't even buy the album or probably listen to it. Especially since you equated him with the dreadful, make me want to stab my eyes out with a spork, Adam Levine!


Hopefully, persona-wise, he's not the troll Levine appears to be.


hahahahaha tho parts of your review are true.. others are pretty ridiculous!!! GET OVER KRIS BEATING ADAM! everyone else has.. it's time for you to join the club. AND Adam isn't getting more attention for his album.. he's getting more attention for his controverial social life. Now I love Adam and think he will do very well in the industry, but I also think the same for Kris. YOU HAVE TO STOP PINNING THEM AGAINST EACHOTHER! the competition is over and done with, try writing a review with a little less bias next time!


It seems this writer couldn't even bring himself to write a straightforward article ALL about Kris Allen. Every chance he gets he compares Adam and Kris, which is STUPID because they are nothing alike. Also, whatever happened to objectivity? You might not like his voice, but why insist on comparing him to other people? Take his music for what it is, and save the sour grapes for someone else who deserves it.


"In fact, song-for-song, Kris easily trumps the weakest Idol champ debuts (David Cook, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard.)"

You've got to be kidding!! Hicks & Studdard maybe but definitely not better than Cook or Clarkson, ummm NO!!


Wow, what a "professional", "unbiased" review! I'm impressed.


Still butthurt much?


"Kris also struggles to find his own voice on the bouncy R&B-rock Can't Stay Away and Written All Over My Face so he borrows Adam Levine's."

...hmm, I don't think you know Kris enough to utter the above statement. I know him well enough to be sure that it sound 100% Kris Allen. If it sounds to you like Levine, so be it


I'll have to say thank you for giving Kris some positive feedback. I think the problem is going to be if musical critics who have dissed Kris Allen over the course of the IDOL TOUR want to appear at all credible about music, they are going to have to start eating "crow". This CD is going to be a critical success and anyone that earns a living by writing reviews are going to have to cop to it, no matter how bitter it tastes. It's making me all kinds of happy. Kris Allen and his music is worthy of great success.


Kris has to shake things up more. He is too forgettable. When the next crop of Idol contestants come out or the new bland kid on the block comes out he'll be forgotten. He needs to step up his game.

I listened to snips of the new CD and they are again forgettable.

Bar J

Kris is definitely an out of sight out of mind guy. If he disappeared from the music scene I don't think he'd be missed. He does not add anything new, creatively.


Bitter much? You critics who put your personal preference before your jobs will start eating your words.This is music and we cannot all like thesame type of music and that's why there's variety. If you don't like his style, it doesn't make him forgettable because a lot of people do love it.
Finally, this whole album smells Kris and nothing else. How is he to shake things up? By damping his wife for another woman,so the media will get something to write about him? Give Kris a break! He's stayed true to who he is and his fans love him. Who cares if some of you don't. Mr Cohen should brace himself because we might see an encore. If Adam had won, would you have sugested the 1 vote per person? It has been this way since season 1, because of almighty Adam, it should change? Pathetic!


Thank you for this assessment of Kris' album. I, personally, do not like it. Kris is not my cup of tea. He is too bland for my tast. I do not dislike Kris as a person it is just my musical taste is not what he does. As far as the voting on AI, I agree, it should be changed. I wish Kris success and yes, he does need to step up his game. Out of sight, out of mind.


I love it when people say "Kris had nothing to do with winning - it wan't his fault Arkaknsas cheated/ Christians hated Adam, whatever" - the winner should have EVERYTHING to do with winning. His/her talent, artistry, personality, stage presence, it should be overwhelmingly obvious. Can anybody honestly say that was Kris Allen?


Yes, "wtdp" whoever you are, I CAN "honestly say that Kris Allen WON because he was BETTER than Adam! At least for the people who LOVE KRIS and CAN'T STAND ADAM's SCREECHING!

adamsluvjnes, Adam is not MY cup of tea, and obviously not others' cut of tea either! Sure, there are lots of Glamberts out there who "live & breathe" Adam Lambert, but not EVERYONE! But I thought this article was supposed to be about Kris Allen? Here come those Glamberts AGAIN!!! I'll be SO GLAD when they stay on their own fansites and promote their own Idol! Let's keep these guys separate PLEASE ~ they're totally different genres (thank God!) Can't STAND Glam Rock! Can't stand Gaga Lady either! Or even Britney or Katy Perry! Sorry!


And I like Katy Perry even LESS for what she did on Idol to promote her favorite! She should have been thrown off the stage, IMHO.


I have listened to the snippets for this album and I have to say I am extremely impressed, it shows a lot of variation and soul! I cannot wait to listen to the whole thing. I hear it is going to stream on Monday at AOL music. I could care less about the debate b/t Kradam! They are both talented and are doing what they love, KUDOS to them, hopefully we can all say the same about our own lives. Kris has a voice that really soars at times and picks open my heart. His music is like a person who whispers instead of shouts for attention, this trait makes me want to lean in and hear what he sings/plays and experience where the music is taking me.


OMG the lack of taste here is amazing. Kris is well Kris and in awhile it will be Kris WHO?? As for throwing Katy Perry off stage, well once again something about the lack of taste...it's ok to cheat, but it's not ok to voice one's opinion on a favorite??? Oh well this is all so very boring...just like..oh I forgot his name already...

Lisa W

As a huge Adam fan (Glamber #3676!) I gotta say that if you want to review Kris's album well then you should do just that and not bring up the fake voting controversy again. the show is what it is and people know that, we live in a perpetual "reality" world now that is not reality at all. But so what, Adam got what he needed from the show and more, he's freakin fabulous and now everyone knows that! I love him but am happy for both of them, Kris is a great guy with a beautiful voice. I have not heard the album but wish him well. Hoping good things for Allie too, wanna hear more rocker chick from her - go Kradison!!!


These are the words worth reading in the above review:

"Kris finds a workable pop/rock style of his own on the upbeat Kris Allen and its pleasures all come from his songwriting hand. He cowrote most of the album and all of its highlights, like the truly pretty Let It Rain with his skilled piano bed framing the memorable melody and the McCartneyesque-pop buoyancy of Alright With Me, are his. Fine tunes.

Admirably, Kris kept Kara DioGuardi's hack songs off his album (wish Carrie Underwood could have done the same)...

... when he sings in his own superior voice he's engaging. Kris Allen .. ultimately winds up as one of the more likable, artistically valid albums from an Idol winner."


I am happy to know there are some tracks worth checking out. I do not like "Live Like We're Dying." For Kris's sake I was in hope some of his own stuff was much better. I voted for Adam but I like Kris a lot.

Yes alot of artists in the music industry are giving Adam a lot of attention. Why? because he can sing like few can.


Can everyone try to remember that critics are supposed to have opinions? by definition they cannot be unbiased in the sense that they "critique" for us. they are not fan clubs.

kris' music is just alright for me. he seems very likeable as a person, and able to sing in an acceptable enough range that really catchy hits might be within his reach. but exciting? no. exceptional? don't think so. cute and good enough, that's my opinion.


I'm a HUGE Adam fan but I'm so glad that Kris is getting critical acclaim for his album. Both are fine, talented young men trying to make it in a tough business. This tired old Idol controversy needs to die. It certainly shouldn't be dragged into Kris' review.


Howard, The Script is hardly an obscure band.

music lover

Wow!Biased much? Out come all the "bitter bert trolls" from under the nearest bridge! All your drama and bitching in the world doesn't change th3e fact that kris allen IS the american idol season 8! It doesn't change that fact that Kris is a great WRITER & MUSICIAN....Adam is not! Get the hell over yourselves! His first project is Great...you are clearly not capable of being honest(or getting past YOUR issues) Personally, I think these are two very different artists...Adam is a great "PERFORMER"...his first CD indicates to me, he's not really sure what he wants to be when he grows up. He's singing OTHER PEOPLES work. Perhaps his next work will be better.(I hope so, since his first 2 singles are duds) His attention so far has soley been derived from the exploitation of his sexuality and his flamboyance, which he uses at every turn. Kris chooses to rely on the music and to let it speak for itself....It does & it will continue to...it's heartfelt, real and just damm good.


To Howard Cohen: Firstly, I'm from Asia and a huge Kris fan and we love Kris for his humility and talent. I can see that you are a Adam fan who is still bitter over his loss. There is something called professionalism which you clearly lack in writing this review. I don't understand why you need to bring in the voting conspiracy that is totally irrelevant to writing the review. Let me say that Dial Idol .com has accurately predicted the past seasons of America Idol winners and Kris is ahead of Adam in terms of busy phone signals. This means that even WITHOUT the text messenges, Kris would still win the title.

It's quite sad that you can't appreciate true singing from the heart and instead opt for the likes of flashy performers like lady gaga and macdonna.

Nevertheless, you do give credit that this is one of the most solid idol debuts, right up there with Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry.


David Cook weak debut?...."In fact, song-for-song, Kris easily trumps the weakest Idol champ debuts (David Cook, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard.)"

Here are the stats to put you straight:
David Cook the Record ranked #13 out of 115,000 albums released last year.

Only 19 million sellers this year - there were 57 in 2004/05, 54 in 2005/06, 43 in 2006/07 and 33 in 2007/08. Only 19 albums made platinum in the 2008-09 chart year. And one of those was one David Cook's record (DCTR). One of only three debut albums to hit that mark. DCTR is the best debut from an "American Idol" winner since Carrie Underwood's 2006 album "Some Hearts. His album (in a bad economy) went platinum in 3 months & had 2 singles go platinum.

David Cook’s reign on the Adult Contemporary chart with “The Time of My Life” (19/RCA) has gone into double digits, making him one of 15 solo male artists to rule this survey for 10 weeks or more since the chart began in 1961. Cook is the only male artist to have a song advance to No. 1 on the AC chart in 2008.
TOML is now the highest selling coronation single in Idol history, beating Clay Aiken’s “This Is The Night” and Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This”, which are second and third respectively.

David Cook’s eponymous debut album proved itself worthy, landing at #3 on the Billboard charts for its debut week of release. The self titled album sold 283,446 copies, behind Beyonce’s and Nickelback’s albums, which were both released on the same day. However, in the case of digital sales, the album landed at the #1 spot.

When Taylor & Rueben debuted their albums people were still buying albums. The music buying public today cannot be compared to recent years.

David Cook's record remained in Top 10 off of Billboard (SoundScan) for 6 weeks, certifying gold on week 10. He remained in top 20 for 12 weeks and top 100 for months or at least 26 weeks.

Just think if RCA had actually promoted him.

Fake voting? Please, devoted fans pick their favorites & vote multiple times. They kind of cancel eachother out. The difference is on the finale where those people who never vote until the finale decide to throw in a couple of votes for who they they most during the season. They don't generally vote more than a few times because you can't get through & they aren't that rabid about it. It all comes out in the wash.

Kelly had a unique advantage. Though her album debut was okay, she was the first winner.

As far as idol radio play the stars appear to be Kelly, Carrie, Daughtry & Cook.

I like Kris but I'm not crazy about the album, it is too bland but I like him. He isn't getting promoted because right now RCA cares about only one person & that's Adam Lambert & has pretty much dropped everyone else. I think that was a bad decision on their part.

Chris Sucks Balls

CHRIS ALLEN SUCKS BALLS!!! Thats right people, you heard me, he sucks balls, even more than Adam would on a night out San Fran. His music is tolerable but forgettable. There is nothing special about his debut album, it has nothing to offer to the music world that is new, fresh or exciting. Adam on the other hand is different, edgy and versatile. Adam's album has variety unlike Chris's which sounds like one of those waterfall cd's that are designed to help you relax/put you to sleep. There a thousands of guys that sound like Chris. Common mall busker!!!


What????...."In fact, song-for-song, Kris easily trumps the weakest Idol champ debuts (David Cook, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard."

You have got to be kidding!!! David Cook's album was one of 19 to go platinum of ALL albums released that year & two platinum singles to boot! As far as I'm concerned Kelley, Carrie, Daughtry & David Cook are the 4 stars of A.I. Kris Allen has one hit single and he seems like a nice guy but his album isn't going anywhere (just like David Archuleta with his only hit "Crush"), Adam's album will not hit platinum in the year it was released here in the U.S. and even with media saturation, one of his many singles released - only one is gold & may go platinum eventually. You can't compare Kris to Adam because they are nothing alike & their audience is different. So Kris has only one hit single which already went platinum, Adam might get a hit single eventually but his album didn't take off like everyone thought it would. David Cook's album went platinum in less than 3 months - gold in 4 weeks so I definitely wouldn't say Cook's album was weak & that with very little support from his label. In the history of the music business in recent years I have never seen anyone promoted like Adam Lambert but his album dropped off Billboard top 50 so fast and his collaborations were a list of who's who in the music business yet it still didn't make the splash it was anticipated it would. Kris got ZERO promotion. I would much rather listen to Kris than Adam any day because my ears don't like to bleed with his very predictable inevitable wail.

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