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Friday, August 21, 2009

Kris Allen, The Ultimate interview, part three

In the third part of this four-part interview, "American Idol" winner Kris Allen discusses his experience on the show and his notable song choices that helped him clinch the season 8 crown.

LAT: You earned a reputation on “American Idol” for taking well-known songs and making them your own. Is that something you’ve always done?

KA: Yes. When you play in bars and you have to play for three hours, you have to play songs people know. I never wanted to just play a song that people know. I wanted people to think, “That’s a cool way to sing that song” or “That’s a cool way to play that song,” and so it’s always been a part of what I do as a performer.

LAT: What are some of the songs you would interpret while playing clubs?

KA: I used to do “Man in the Mirror,” which I sang on the top 36 night. R&B songs are always fun to do, to have people hear it from a white guy on the guitar.

That song has always done something for me for some reason. It has a good message. It’s Michael Jackson. It’s a great song. There were a couple songs that I wanted to do that week that I wasn’t able to due to clearance problems. I went through this list of 300 songs and that one wasn’t on there. I didn’t want to do anything on that list. I think there were more songs than that, but there was nothing that I wanted to do. That song popped in my head and I thought, “Just go with it.”

LAT: Describe the process of making songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Heartless” your own.

KA: I completely forget about the song as [the original artist] does it and I think how I would play the song phrasing-wise, chord structure-wise and feeling-wise. It all comes together. I hear what it’s going to sound like in my head and I run with it.

LAT: So you’re hearing your version in your head before you play it out loud?

KA: Once I hear it in my head, then I’ll start playing something on my guitar and singing along with it and it still sounds like the song but it’s not the way that person did it. Hopefully it’s a way that no one has ever thought of doing it before. That’s the way I like to do things. I like to be weird.

LAT: Let’s talk about some of the other songs you performed this season. During Grand Ole Opry week you sang “To Make You Feel My Love.”

KA: When I got onto the live show, it was one of those songs I wanted to do and I was hoping a week would come up where I could sing it. It worked well for country week. I beat the system a little bit, because Bob Dylan’s not completely country but Garth Brooks had done it before.

LAT: So you knew the Garth Brooks version?

KA: Yes, it’s one of the prettiest songs ever.

Read the rest of The Ultimate Interview, Part Three

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