The 15th and final bittersweet season of American Idol is almost over, and all season long, Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks has been asking alumni to share their stories. Season 8’s Kris Allen first penned a memorable and hilarious essay a few weeks ago about how his unorthodox song choices helped him go from underdog to champion. Now, to celebrate this week’s release of his new album, Letting You In, he’s back with the sequel – about a night that didn’t go quite as well for him and almost cost him the competition. Read on as Kris lets you in on the story.
(photo: Getty Images)
How I got through Rock Week, I really don’t know.
Top four. I couldn’t believe I had made it this far! I definitely never saw it coming. If I could make it through to the next week, I would get to go back to Arkansas and do a homecoming episode.
But first… Rock Week.
I was the least “rock” out of the four contestants left, other than I could play guitar. I knew this was going to be a tough one. Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta were going to crush this week, because it was right up their alley. I wouldn’t call Danny Gokey a rock guy, but I knew he could hang just on his gravely voice alone.
So what was I going to do?I know! Pick a great song from the greatest rock band of all time. The Beatles. No, not “Come Together,” which was the song I ended up doing. I wanted to do “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I love that song and knew I could do something cool with it… and George Harrison is awesome. They ended up saying it wasn’t “rock” enough, so I settled for “Come Together.” It wasn’t a bad settle, but knew that me doing that song wasn’t going to win me the competition.
After we pick our songs, we headed to the Roxy to sing our songs for Slash. Yeah, that Slash. One of the coolest guitar players out there. “He’s probably going to love me and my acoustic guitar crooner ways.” Ha. Did I belong at the Roxy? Not really. Did I belong there on the same stage as Slash? The answer to this question is a resounding NO. And I just knew he wasn’t going to dig me. We had Allison and Adam! He was going to love them! And rightfully so. Adam was singing “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin and was about to blow everyone away, and Allison was going to do a version of “Crybaby” by Janis Joplin that in my opinion was so good, it should have kept her in the competition. And I was pretty much right. Slash was nice and cordial to me, but he didn’t really seem into what I was doing with the song. Huge confidence boost.
So since there are only four of us on the show at that point, we needed extra performances in the competition nights to fill time. So they decided that we should do duets. To my knowledge, this is the first time they had done this on the show – and I knew why. “But don’t worry,” they said. “It won’t be judged.” If only there had been a camera on me at that moment. I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled all the way back to Arkansas. I knew there was no way that we weren’t going to be judged. Even if the judges didn’t say anything, I knew the people at home would.
So we had to pair up. Adam and Allison immediately joined forces, so that left me and Danny together. And honestly, it really didn’t matter who I dueted with, because I knew that all three of them could sing higher and “better” than me. Therefore, there was no way out of this. But this performance wasn’t supposed to matter, so it wasn’t a big deal, right? I knew better than that.
Danny and I settled on Styx’s “Renegade” because it had a cool intro with some good harmony stuff. And we performed it that night all right, especially Danny. He sounded great on the song. But to no surprise, right after the performance we were both standing there on our X, awaiting the non-judging judging of this performance. And here it comes. The only thing I remember from that critique was Simon Cowell saying something to the effect of: “Well, listen, I know we aren’t supposed to judge this performance, but if I had to, I would say Danny sang the song better.” The camera went right to our faces and you could see the I’m-not-surprised-but-really look on my face. I did a little half-eyeroll, and even I knew at that moment that that expression alone could send me home.
I was for sure all these things would add up to me going home in fourth place. It just wasn’t going to be my week. I was going to get my homecoming, but not on my own terms. I did my performance of “Come Together,” and it went OK. It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t bad, either. I actually thought the recording turned out pretty cool. Adam and Allison absolutely did what I thought they were going to do, because it was their week to take. Danny was always consistent with his vocals and did a great job. But somehow, I made it through.
I think there is a little bit of luck involved with this show, as is with most things in life. But advancing past Rock Week… I still have no idea how it happened.