Kris Allen's 'Live Like We're Dying' Video Stands Way Above Other 'Idol' Clips

"American Idol" winner Kris Allen debuted his first music video today (although he's been the unwilling star of several hilarious/creepy fan-made Kradam tribute clips) and while "Live Like We're Dying" probably won't win any Moonmen at next year's VMAs, it's a big, bold and awesomely expensive-looking first taste of what fans can expect from Kris Allen 2.0. He's no longer "just" an "Idol" winner. He's a musician in his own right, and the video sets him up as a worthy colleague to similarly-minded artists like the Fray, OneRepublic and John Mayer.

The video starts in near-darkness, but as the clip progresses (and as he plays more instruments), the sun slowly rises until the final moments, when a new day has officially dawned. Call me sentimental (and, okay, a crazy fan), but this video perfectly mirrors Kris' "Idol" journey in a deliciously subtle way. He began as a guy with little exposure during the early episodes, but thanks to his earnest performances and winning personality, he ended up being the top dog.

Perhaps I'm reading into it, but Allen could be winking at his naysayers by performing in front of a clock that looks as though it's ticking down from 15 minutes. (It's actually one-minute and fifty seconds, but with the fast-paced editing it's easy to misread it.) Okay, I'm definitely reading into it.

What struck me the most about the video, however, was just how different Kris' debut clip is compared to other "Idol" winners' music video debuts. And that's a good — nay, amazing — thing.

Imagine, if you will, the cheese that would have come with a dramatic interpretation of the song's lyrics (see Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel"). If Team Allen had decided to go the David Cook "Light On" route, poor Kris would have played second fiddle to a subplot featuring actors. Even worse, Kris could have played the romantic lead in a slo-mo melodramatic clip like Ruben Studdard's "Sorry (2004)" and Fantasia's "Truth Is" video. If they had used Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" video philosophy, Kris would have had to wear a huge scarf and get lost in a giant house party. And don't even get me started on Taylor Hicks' first "Look! I'm at a jazz club!" video or Jordin Sparks' cheap off-season-at-the-carnival "Tattoo."

Instead, Jive Records and 19 Recordings opened their check books and let Kris do what he does best: Sing, play a bunch of instruments and look achingly sincere while doing so. Holy crap! An "Idol" music video that shows the contestant in their element? That really is a first.

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