One of the standout moments during [artist id="3188062"]Kris Allen’s[/artist] run toward the “American Idol” season-eight crown was his soulful version of Kanye West’s “Heartless,” which earned him raves from both the “Idol” judges and his fervent fanbase.
Of course, immediately following that performance, “Idol” released a studio version of the song on iTunes … a syrupy, soft jazzy thing that, well, earned Allen anything but raves.
So, when it came time to record songs for his self-titled debut album — which hit stores Tuesday (November 17) — Allen knew he wanted to take another stab at the song. Working with producer Salaam Remi, he crafted a new, sleeker version of “Heartless,” one that recalls the ethereal, slightly ominous soundscapes of Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight” (for real).
It was a risk, but early results seem to indicate that the duo knocked it out of the park with the new version. It’s been singled out by both critics and fans as a high point of Allen’s debut disc. So naturally, Allen must be thrilled, right?
Well, no, actually. On Monday, when Allen stopped by the MTV newsroom to talk about his new album, we asked him about the lengthy process of making his post-”Idol” debut, an intricate game of give and take, of negotiations and compromise. The question, naturally, was: What was his biggest defeat during the whole process?
His answer? “Um … ‘Heartless,’ ” Allen said. “It’s not that I didn’t want to put it on there. [It's just that] the version was a little bit different for me.”
And Allen didn’t stop there, saying that the whole “In the Air Tonight” vibe was definitely Remi’s idea, and that, in his opinion, the album version of “Heartless” is a far different thing from the one he first debuted during his “Idol” days. And that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to the singer.
“That was definitely the producer’s feel for it. He wanted that in there,” Allen said about the Collins influence. “It was different for me, because it was a different song.”
And while he might not be crazy about the new version of “Heartless,” Allen realizes his fans think otherwise. So, ultimately, he’s willing to let this one go … you can’t win ‘em all, it would seem. And really, even when Allen loses, he’s still winning.
“My brother likes [the song], so that’s good,” he smiled.
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