One of the great comeback tales of the past few years has been the one owned by Linda Perry, who rescued herself from one-hit-wonder obscurity to become a top collaborator with some of the biggest names in pop music (like Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani). Kris Allen is currently working with super-producers David Hodges (Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry), Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse) and Claude Kelly (Leona Lewis, Akon), but here are five circa-'90s songwriters who Allen should draft into collaboration service.
» Gregg Alexander: Alexander made a splash in 1998 when his band New Radicals scored a big hit with "You Get What You Give." The group only produced one album, and since then Alexander has actually made a name for himself as a collaborator-for-hire, working with Hanson, Enrique Iglesias and Santana (whose "The Game of Love" won Alexander a Grammy in 2003). But he needs a big breakout that can take him to the next level, and his mastery of arrangements and sonic layering would free Allen up profoundly.
» Evan Dando: The frontman of the Lemonheads has had his share of issues, but he has never lost his ability to build fragile melodies around spacious, airy arrangements. "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" would have been a great tune for Allen to bust out during competition.
» Sean Nelson: Harvey Danger had one notorious hit in 1998 with a song called "Flagpole Sitta." Though that tune always seemed like a novelty, Nelson has always had a way with an anthem. In case Allen wants to get wordy or snarky, Nelson could be the one to offer him some focus.
» Tracy Bonham: Bonham got swept up in the post-Alanis era, where any woman with a guitar and a yelp could get on the radio for a few minutes (see also Meredith Brooks, Bif Naked and Poe). Her hit single "Mother Mother" was a delightful little slice of bile that still had a great chorus. Plus, Bonham has formal voice training (so she can lend Allen a few pointers) and has toured with the Blue Man Group (so she knows a thing or two about performance theatrics).
» Jill Cunniff: Cunniff sang and played bass in Luscious Jackson, whose brand of alterna-centric dance music didn't catch on when the band was in its prime but is perfect for today's pop sensibilities. Plus, she now makes music with tropicalia and surf influences — a perfect base upon which Allen can build his musical empire.