While you should never judge a book by its cover, "American Idol" season-eight champ [artist id="1941279"]Kris Allen[/artist] hopes concertgoers judge him for his cover. More specifically, his out-of-left-field take on [artist id="1123"]Radiohead's[/artist] epic prog-rocky anthem "Paranoid Android," which he's currently performing on his first headlining tour.
"It's our street-cred song," Allen told MTV News backstage at Yankee Stadium, where he was about to play the CBS Radio Expo. "I've always loved the song, and I've always loved playing it, and so we worked it out as a band, because we thought it would be cool."
Street cred is a tricky thing when you're a dude from a show that forces contestants to sing songs from the Barry Manilow songbook. But Kris and his band are eager to prove to audiences that their music tastes reach wider than the mainstream tunes fans might expect from an artist with an "Idol" past. And, in some cases, the Radiohead cover — now a fan favorite — expands the musical horizons of Allen's "Idol" followers. "Some people come up to me after the show, they didn't even know the song, and they were like, 'That was incredible!' My brother, he has no idea who Radiohead is, and he thought it was awesome," Allen said.
Not all audiences are ready, however, to hear the good-natured Southern boy sing lyrics like "When I am king, you will be first against the wall." "We won't play it every night. We'll play it every once in a while," the Arkansas native said. "I think we played it in Shreveport [Louisiana], and people were just like, 'What is this? This guy's creepy!' And then we move on to the next song," Allen laughed.
This isn't the first time Kris has taken a risk with his set list. In addition to rocking songs from his self-titled debut album, including the hit "Live Like We're Dying," Kris and the band have performed straight-faced, sincere mash-ups of Kanye West's "Heartless" and Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," as well as a "Falling Slowly"/ "With or Without You" interpolation that caught the eye of original artist the Swell Season. (Glen Hansard even performed Kris' U2-ified arrangement on their last tour).
Kris Allen has his fingers crossed for a similar shout-out from Radiohead. "What if Thom Yorke sees this?" the singer said wide-eyed. "And what if he's like, 'This is great'? That would be incredible!"
While Kris and his band daydream about props from the Radiohead frontman, they're busy working on another cred-grabbing cover to add to their set. "We've been trying to work up 'Electric Feel' for a while, the [artist id="2552793"]MGMT[/artist] song, which would be pretty cool."
Kris Allen is on tour with his band through September, performing both headlining shows as well as opening for Barenaked Ladies, Keith Urban and Maroon 5.
What song would you like Kris to cover on tour? Let us know in the comments!