Kris Allen was struggling. If you watched Tuesday night's "American Idol" performance finale, it was clear that the 23-year old Conway, Arkansas, native had a hard time singing this year's winner's song, the Kara DioGuardi-co-penned ballad, "No Boundaries."
At one point, he turned from the microphone and appeared to miss a few lines, and the key he was singing in appeared to be too high for him.
On a night when his other two performances won mostly raves from the judges, did this year's dark-horse finalist possibly blow his chances at the crown with his "No Boundaries" stumble? It was hard to tell from the judges' comments, which mostly praised Allen for getting as far as he did. But, with the exception of Kara's acknowledgement of the key being too high, the judges steered clear of artistic judgment on the performance. And, according to vote-tracking site dialidol.com — which claims to have had a 97 percent accuracy for predicting the results in season seven — as of Wednesday morning, for the first time ever the race was too close to call, with just 1.1 percent separating the top two.
But the pained look on Allen's face seemed to acknowledge he'd missed the mark on the performance. And judging by the avalanche of comments on MJ' s Big Blog, one of the leading "Idol" fan sites, most of which lambasted the song, even fans felt Allen came up short in his final "Idol" performance. "This song sucks — but how can Kris even sing it — totally not suited to his voice," Anovich wrote on the blog. Aninanisa added, "OMG this is painful, like shouty at times, and his voice seems so strained."
Lambert also came in for some criticism for his version, but the comments mostly empathized with Allen for having to tackle the tune. "[H]ate the song, but sheesh Kris is waaay out of his league here and all over the place pitchy," wrote Lisa. That was restrained compared to what Leome wrote: "Ewww Kris is sounding awful! He can't sing this, out of his range. Seriously, these two performances were just two of the worst of the season. It's the finale ... what a disappointment."
Some responders even suggested that the show purposely threw Allen under the bus by saddling him with a song they knew he would have a hard time with, but Alencar9 wasn't buying that line of reasoning. "The judges threw Kris under the bus? What show were u watching? Kris did a horrible job with the coronation song ... off key and forgetting lyrics?! Not one judge called him on it."
Allen superfan Meg23 worried that the song would, in fact, be his undoing. "I loved Kris," she wrote. "Unfortunately, I think the coronation song is going to screw him over like it did to Blake in S6."
Mostly, though, the commenters sharpened their knives for the song itself, with Virgo03v summing up the general feeling about "No Boundaries" with, "That 'Boundaries' song is terrible. I feel sorry for both of them that they have to have that song as their first single."
During a post-show press conference, even the always diplomatic Lambert seemed to strain to be non-judgmental when discussing the ponderous ballad.
"I think it's a great song," he said. "It actually has a great message. There was a lot of lyric and it was a big song. ... We didn't have a lot of time to work on it, so it was kind of a rush job. It was a beautiful song." Meanwhile, asked if he liked the "hurricanes and mountains" lyrics, Allen squeaked out a "yeah," but mostly stood silently by Lambert's side and made no comments about the song at all.
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