Tuesday, December 29, 2009

American Idol winner Kris Allen rings in new year on Fox special

As the seconds ticked down on New Year’s Eve 2008, Kris Allen was hosting a party at which someone’s pants caught fire.

Any blowout involving scorched trousers is a memorable one, but the reigning “American Idol” winner has upped the ante with his plans this year.

Allen and fellow “Idol” finalist Allison Iraheta are among the performers singing live from the Las Vegas Strip as part of “Billboard’s New Year’s Eve Live”

Host Carmen Electra will be joined by Eva Longoria Parker and Kim Kardashian, among others, during the 90-minute broadcast.

It’ll be the first time Allen has visited Sin City, and despite his musical background, it’ll be the first time he’s ever performed on New Year’s Eve. It’s certainly a step up from the gathering on the roof deck of his house, where last year’s flammable soiree took place. Given the legendary reputation of Vegas as the party capital of the planet, the 24-year-old musician holds high expectations.

“I’m excited about it,” Allen said during a recent conference call with reporters. “I’ve never actually been to Vegas. This is going to be fun for me. I heard it’ll be the best time I’ll ever have.”

His New Year’s Eve plans traditionally have been more quiet. “I usually go to my mom’s house, and she always makes cabbage and black-eyed peas or something like that,” Allen said. “She always makes those things for some reason. It’s supposed to be good luck for the rest of the year.”

Does the Arkansas nice guy fear he’ll be out of his element?

“We’ll see what happens. I’m going to have a good time, I can promise you that, and it doesn’t matter where I’m at. I’m going to have a good time.”

The married musician knocked around his hometown of Conway, Ark., before running the season eight Idol gauntlet, eventually besting outrageous third rail Adam Lambert.

Last month, Lambert ruffled feathers with his performance on the “American Music Awards” broadcast when he kissed a male keyboardist, grinded a dancer’s head against his crotch and grabbed the unmentionables of another. The fallout included canceled performances and criticism from conservative groups, but Allen doesn’t think the controversy will derail his one-time competitor’s career.

“Anybody that knows him is not surprised at all,” he said. “(And) obviously, it hasn’t hurt him.”

Allen has been busy post-“Idol.” There have been countless performances, press conferences and the release of his debut album on 19 Recordings/Jive Records.

“I feel like I’ve started to really learn a lot of stuff,” he said. “When you go through all this, I feel like I’ve started to learn exactly who I want to be as an artist and all of that. It (American Idol) has opened more doors to new music for me. I’ve been listening to new stuff that I wasn’t listening to back then.”

To term it a whirlwind seven months later might be an understatement, but the more pressing issues demanding Allen’s attention include choosing a set list for his New Year’s Eve performance and deciding how to spend 2010.

“For me, it’s just work harder on music stuff, just writing and performing and all that,” he said. “That’s my resolution.”
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