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Kris Allen's new song 'Live Like We're Dying': What do you think?

I already weighed in last week on the 23-second snippet of Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying.” (Okay, actually, that byline should’ve gone to the 12-year-old schoolgirl who lives inside my iPod.) But in all seriousness, the full version of debut single from the American Idol season 8 champ premiered this morning on Z100, and I’ll just say the additional 181 seconds now available for consumption only make the track sound more like a future smash hit to me. (Side note: I scored a pretty nifty interview with Pocket Idol from the Z100 hallway that will be included in the world premiere of the most important new show on the internet, Réalité, coming Friday to EW.com! Cheers, benches!)

As current radio fodder goes, “Live Like We’re Dying” is downright verbose — packing in some sweet, new-age-y sentiments about existing in the moment, living without regret, and saying “I love you” early and often to the people in our lives — but what could’ve come off this side of hokey winds up as winningly inspirational thanks to the conviction in Kris’ vocals. And in an world of top 10 hits like “Birthday Sex” and “Party in the U.S.A.,” it’s kind of refreshing to get a little lyrical nourishment. I’m particularly in love with the way Kris delivers the sing-speak breakdown at 2:30: “You never know a good thing till it’s gone/ You never see a crash till it’s head on/ Or why we think we’re right when we’re dead wrong/ You never know a good thing till it’s gone.” And as I noted last week, the “we’ve only got 86 400 seconds in a day…” chorus is 1-800-Too-Catchy. It’s enough to make you want to go forth, create your own personal bucket list, and schedule an appointment to swim with the dolphins! (Seriously, I need to make that happen.) Or at least it’s enough to make you want to head to iTunes and download this puppy the second it’s available, no?

What do you think of the full-length version of “Live Like We’re Dying”? Do you have any issue with the fact that it’s an obscure cover of a track originally recorded by The Script? Can Kris be the next Daughtry/Underwood/Clarkson-size success from the Idol franchise? Or will he be more David Cook/Jordin Sparks/Fantasia level? Or (gasp, no!) will he get the same tepid commercial response as Diana DeGarmo and Katharine McPhee? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak for all my Idol-related snacks!

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Kris Allen's rumored single, 'Live Like We're Dying,' leaks! (Idoloonies hold collective breath for 23 seconds!)

A whopping 23 seconds of Kris Allen’s rumored debut single, a cover of The Script’s “Live Like We’re Dying,” has found its way to YouTube, and as with all things pertaining to the American Idol season 8 champ, resistance is futile! I’ve actually been listening to the full version of the track on repeat loop since Tuesday (and have only hyperventilated once or twice) — the good folks at Jive sent a don’t-leak-under-threat-of-death link to one of my colleagues — and Kris, who admitted to me during his Idol tour stop in Albany last month that he loves surprising people with his musical choices, shows a new and impressive level of vocal adroitness on the rapid-fire chorus, without missing an emotional beat in the process. Suddenly, the idea of the nation collectively rolling down its windows and chanting “You’ve only got eighty-six-four-hundred seconds in a day to/ Turn it all around or throw it all away/ Gotta tell ‘em that we love ‘em while we got the chance to say…” seems not only plausible, but entirely likely. I can’t tell you how stoked I am that an Idol champ, for the first time in too long a time, appears to be releasing a lead single with a legitimate chance to catapult him beyond pop radio’s initial prejudice against the Idol machine and become the star that he really deserves to be. And I’m okay that it’s a cover, because, I mean, that hook! (I don’t remember anyone complaining Sinead O’Connor covered Prince when she released “Nothing Compares 2 u,” right?) Press play below, then share your thoughts on Kris’ version of “Live Like We’re Dying.” (I actually prefer it to the original, which is embedded after the jump, for the uninitiated). Oh, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for all my Idol-related ridiculata @EWMichaelSlezak. [UPDATE: A 19 rep confirms that "Live Like We're Dying" is indeed Kris' lead single, and adds that it will officially debut Monday, Sept. 21, at 7:40 a.m. EDT on New York's Z100.]


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Kris Allen on loving Jacko, learning the viola, and being a heartthrob

Kris-allen_l Yesterday, 19 Recordings announced that it has signed American Idol season 8 champ Kris Allen — surprise! (Ha.) In a statement, Allen teased what the album might sound like: “It will be very similar to what you heard from me on the show — definitely in the pop/rock genre.” During my recent interview with Allen, he told me pretty much the same thing, though he also added, “The way I came across on the show is a guy and his guitar, but I want to come across as more the soft-rock kind of thing… hopefully something that not everyone has seen before. I think that some people will be very surprised by it — certain songs, people will be like, ’Didn’t expect that.’ Just like the whole 'Heartless' thing — people were not expecting me to do that song. And it worked out. So I think you’ll see things like that. I think it’s going to be very cool.”

Since he was still in the process of working out who he was going to work with on the album, Allen was understandably reticent to get more specific than that. But he had plenty to say about the music that has shaped him so far. So in the hope of tiding you ravenous Allen fans over until the fall release of his debut record, I offer you the following tidbits. Oh, and I fully expect to hear a collective awww… after you read the part about him dancing to Jacko all by his lonesome. (Also, in the rare chance that you missed it, do check out Idolatry's terrific five-part interview with Allen; link below.)

On playing the viola
I started playing viola when I was in fourth grade. But it was kind of like a requirement. I never hated it or anything, but it was never something that I loved. We had an orchestra and it was like, a couple of my friends play the viola, so I was like, “I’ll play the viola.” We had to play something, I just picked that. All my friends stopped playing but I kept playing until the end of high school.

On growing up musical
My dad was a musician. He was a singer and he played the guitar, so music was always around. I never really wanted to pick up [the guitar] until I was 13. One summer, during the day [when] my parents were working and we were home alone, my brother would go to the pool and hang out with girls and do whatever. I would just hang out in the house. No one had a clue what I was doing. I was teaching myself how to play the guitar.

On Michael Jackson and his other favorite artists back in the day
I was a huge, huge, huge fan of Michael Jackson. Almost too big of a fan. He’s one of the best ever.I would sit in my room and put on a hat and try to dance in front of the mirror. All this stuff on my own, never in front of people. I was too embarrassed. I started listening to him and then started listening to a lot of R&B stuff like Boyz II Men, II. I grew up listening to that. I love that. [Singing] “I’ll make love to you…” Probably not a good idea [for a 9-year-old kid]. And then I think my next CD was TLC, Crazy Sexy Cool. My parents were totally cool with it — maybe they didn’t know exactly. They were young and they tried to be cool. [Laughs]

What he’s listening to now
A lot of different stuff. Love Coldplay. Coldplay’s first CD, I think it’s amazing. The Kings of Leon CD is incredible. I like Mutemath a lot. The Kanye CD [808s & Heartbreak], it’s amazing, one of the best of the decade, probably.

On being his own artist in the, eh-hem, often controlling recording industry
I am really laid back and kind of go-with-the-flow, but I will never do anything that I don’t believe in. So if there’s a song that they’re trying to shoot at me and I’m like, ehhhh, then it probably won’t happen. I think it would just be uncomfortable. You can’t do something that you don’t feel good about.

And just because… On adjusting to overnight heartthrob status
I always try to take it with a grain of salt, because being that is not going to get me anywhere. I just hope I can put out good music. It’s weird. But [my wife is] amazing at dealing with it. They ask her for her autograph as well. [Laughs]

More on Kris Allen:
'American Idol' winner Kris Allen to sing national anthem at NBA Finals

'Idolatry': Kris Allen on obscure songs, matching aprons, and the coolest thing he's ever done

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Kris Allen vs. David Cook: How's the new champ stacking up?

Krisallen_lIt’s no surprise to find nine songs by American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert jumping onto Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart this week. What’s a little less expected is the details of those singles’ chart performance. Allen’s victory song, "No Boundaries," landed at No. 11 after selling 134,000 downloads — not bad, but substantially less than the 236,000 downloads that earned Season 7 winner David Cook’s "The Time of My Life" a No. 3 debut on the same chart at this time last year. And while Cook found himself with a total of 11 singles on the Hot 100 in that crucial post-win week last year, Allen has just five. As for Adam Lambert, he made it to No. 19 this week with 115,000 downloads of "Mad World," plus three other charting singles, which is better than his counterpart David Archuleta could manage last year. Meanwhile, the kids from Glee beat out both Idol guys, entering with 177,000 downloads of "Don’t Stop Believing" at No. 4 — which, incidentally, is higher than Journey’s original ever got.

None of those numbers are embarrassing for anyone involved. And it’s worth noting that, unlike last year’s "The Time of My Life," "No Boundaries" as a song has been near-universally panned by fans — if people aren’t choosing to download it quite as often, that may have more to do with the song than their feelings toward the guy singing it. What’s more, this year iTunes buyers were able to choose between Allen’s and Lambert’s versions of the victory song, presumably splitting their sales to some degree; last year only Cook’s was available for download. Still, it’s hard not to think that Allen and the Idol machine would have liked his victory single to do at least as well as last year’s winner. What’s your take? Is this just a minor speed bump in Allen’s march to global domination, or a sign that he might not be cut out for the big time?

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Eminem trounces the competition in a crowded week
Glee propels Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believin’" to go on and on and on and on

Adam Lambert in Queen might actually happen, according to Brian May
Kris Allen’s win — biggest Idol upset ever, or not so much?

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