Kris who?

Prior to Wednesday night's show, Kris Allen had flown mostly under the "American Idol" radar. But the 23-year-old made a big impression with his cover of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," grabbing a seat in the top 12 (alongside Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta) over some early scene-stealers.

We caught up with the Conway, Arkansas, singer to talk about Simon's comment that Kris would appeal to the ladies, his surprise over advancing and much more.

Q: Were you as surprised as everyone else when you made it to the top 12?

A: Yeah, I was really, really shocked, because this group we had was really, really good and [had] a lot of talented people, and I felt like anybody had a shot. I felt really, really lucky to actually make it through with all those other people.

Q: Were you wondering why you didn't get more screen time before the performance rounds?

A: I think that went through my head maybe a little bit, but ... I was just trying to stay grounded and feel like, "Hopefully that doesn't matter. ... I can go out there and do my thing this week on live TV, and more people are watching that than even the Hollywood stuff." So I think I showed myself this past week, and I think that people liked it.

Q: Do you think Simon's comment that female voters would like you helped you advance?

A: [Laughs.] Um, it probably helped. I'm not gonna lie.

Q: Were you worried about singing a Michael Jackson song after Paula told Stephen Fowler last week that covering Michael was "the kiss of death"?

A: I decided [on the song] awhile back. It was a little scary, but I was really confident in what I was doing, and so I was just really, really happy I didn't get any comparisons to him, because that's exactly what I wanted. I didn't want anyone to compare me to Michael Jackson, so I'm glad that I accomplished that.

Q: Was there any animosity from the other contestants toward Nick "Normund Gentle" Mitchell for making a bit of a mockery of the show?

A: He's not mocking the show. He's doing what he knows how to do, and that's entertain, and he's really, really good at it. And no one feels anything toward him. We all love him to death.

Q: How do you think you were able to connect with voters after your lack of screen time?

A: I went out there and I did my song, and I try to really feel the songs. And that song has a lot of meaning to it. I think that, hopefully, that came across and people noticed that.

Q: When it came down to you and Megan Joy Corkrey, were you surprised when Ryan called your name?

A: I was really, really surprised. Because I thought Megan did a great job, and I think that Megan is a lovely person, and I think that she can go far in the music industry. But, you know, I feel really, really lucky that I got as many votes as I did, but yeah — I was really shocked.

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