Kris Allen, one of the more low-key "American Idol" winners, is wearing his crown lightly. The 24-year-old Arkansas native still seems a bit surprised by his win over the flamboyant Adam Lambert, whom the judges and many others considered to be a shoo-in for the title.
"I don't know if (being the winner) is ever going to sink in - it's not that I can't quite believe it, it's that I'm not getting any special attention, which I prefer," says Allen, who performs 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at Boardwalk Hall.
Allen will be sharing the stage with Lambert and the members of the show's Top 10 for what has become an annual rite of summer: the "American Idols" tour.
For the live show, each contestant performs a mini-set. Allen, who has signed a deal with 19 Recordings/Jive Records, gets the privilege of being the closing act.
He plans to sing several of his most popular tracks from "Idol," including his acoustic version of the Kanye West track, "Heartless," as well as a personal favorite, The Beatles' "Hey Jude."
Allen, who will be making his first appearance in Atlantic City, recently talked to At The Shore about the turning point in the TV competition, his unlikely friendship with his rival Lambert and his career role model.
Q: What was your strategy to win the crown, or did you just take it week-by-week?
A: There were some things I wanted to do to set myself apart. I think the "Heartless" thing set me apart - that was a real eye-opener.
Q: Did you feel any extra pressure to stand out, given all the attention Adam Lambert received from the media and judges?
A: For me, the only person that put pressure on me was myself. No one was going to put any pressure on me - I put a lot of pressure on myself. People saying that Adam was amazing - I was like, "You know what, he is amazing" - there was no pressure caused by that.
Q: Much has been made of your friendship with Lambert, given your identifying as a Christian and his coming out as gay. Do you see it as an unlikely bond?
A: I don't see why it would be unlikely. I think we're all people. Just because he doesn't believe in what I believe in doesn't make us not alike. We've become really good friends - people are people. We're going to be friends, no matter what.
Q: Which part of your "Idol" experience really stands out?
A: One of the best experiences I had was singing with Adam when Brian May (from Queen) was playing guitar. That was one of my favorite moments. Singing ("We Are the Champions") up there with your friend and a legend - that was pretty cool.
Q: What do you have planned for your album?
A: I'm pretty sure we can get out enough stuff so that 100 percent is not from the show. I've done a lot of writing sessions - it's going really well. We're getting into the swing of things and pumping out some songs. I think the sound will be pop-rock and definitely will have an organic vibe, as well.
Q: Is there a release date?
A: We're all going to try to get our records out before Thankgiving - me, Adam and Allison (Iraheta).
Q: How do you envision your career shaking out?
A: I don't know - someone like John Mayer, who's been through three different phases of his career - he did the acoustic pop thing and everyone loved that. Then he came out with the trio thing and everyone loved that. And then he came out with the bluesy album - someone like him, who I feel his music has gotten better throughout his time in the music industry - that would be great.
American Idols Live!
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7
WHERE: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
HOW MUCH: Tickets, priced at $40.50, $55.50 and $69.50, are available at the Boardwalk Hall box office or through Ticketmaster at 800-736-1420 or
www.ticketmaster.com. Additional tickets may be released on day of show.
WEB SITE: www.americanidol.com
Other 'Idol' performers this weekend
Adam LambertThis season's "American Idol" runner-up, left, generated much talk for his searing vocals on "I Walk the Line," "Mad World" and "Born to Be Wild," as well as the "is he or isn't he" speculation about his sexual orientation. After losing the title to Kris Allen, Lambert came out in a Rolling Stone article.
Danny GokeyThe church music director's bluesy style stood out from his male peers' mostly vanilla pop. His personal story also resonated: Gokey lost his wife, Sophia, just four weeks before his "Idol" audition. Despite standout performances on tracks such as "You Are So Beautiful," he was stopped at the final three.
Allison IrahetaA rock belter in the spirit of Melissa Etheridge and Pat Benatar, the 17 year old, right, was the most successful female "Idol" competitor this season, and at one point was thought to be a contender to take the title. In the end, Iraheta just missed making the cut for the final three spots on the show.