By Adam B. Vary
Updated December 20, 2019 at 04:04 AM EST
Credit: Ray Mickshaw/American Idol/Getty Images

Kris Allen may have looked bone tired at the end of his nearly year-long marathon to take the American Idol crown, but he was nothing but chatty when EW spoke with the champeen one-on-one in the post-finale “Winner’s Walk.” With his mother and wife patiently waiting on a nearby bench, Allen gamely talked about why he’s still surprised he’s done as well as he has on the show, when he and Adam Lambert learned they would be rocking out with Queen, how he formed his lasting bond with the glam rocker, and which Oscar winners nearly brought him to tears.

You seemed really surprised up there when Ryan announced you won.
Always. [Smiles] I’m always surprised, man. For me, making it through each week — everyone is so talented, and, I don’t know, to make it through each week is crazy.

People kept referring to you as the dark horse. When you got to the Top 36, we’d barely seen you. Did it add any pressure, or make it easier, being the perpetual underdog?
For me, it was kinda nice. That’s kinda who I am, and having the spotlight on me would’ve been weird. That’s me. I’m that laid back guy. I stick my head behind everyone else and every once and a while peek out and say, “Hello!” [Chuckles]

So you’ve just won American Idol. You’ve obviously got tremendous musical talent. You know what kind of artist you want to be. You’ve got a beautiful wife. You’re very good looking. You’ve got an amazingly supportive family. From all I can tell, you’re a really nice guy. I just gotta know, what is wrong with you?
[Laughs] Um, I am the biggest procrastinator in the world. Yeah. That, and I’m not the cleanest person in the world.

That’s just terrible.
I know, right?

It’s unforgivable.
Maybe there’s other stuff, but I won’t say anything. [Grins]

addCredit(“Ray Mickshaw/American Idol/Getty Images”)

What was it like singing with Keith Urban tonight?
I got to meet him yesterday for the first time. Great, great guy. It’s really nice to meet someone like that who’s a huge, huge star, but really down to Earth. He just embraced me and was just like, “Let’s just have fun.” And that’s what we did. We went out there and had fun.

And Queen?
Oh my gosh. We found out last night that we were going to be singing with Queen. Brian May walks in and my jaw just dropped. I felt like such a frickin’ fan. I was just like [in a nasally voice] “Hey, Brian May, can I get your autograph?” So he was like, “Yeah, man, sure.” He was such a really, really nice guy. To do that duet with Adam, it just felt like such a celebration. To do it with Queen as well? Whoa. Oh my gosh.

Your friendship with Adam has been really great to watch over the course of the season. On paper, you don’t necessarily have a lot in common. How did you guys find that common ground?
For me, I feel like I relate to a lot of people. And we got to be roommates. It was just like this closeness, you know? I don’t know what happened. I think we just felt each other’s energy, and it was nice. It just became this really good friendship. Yeah, I adore the guy. I think he’s a really great guy. I’m proud of him.

Finally, what was one of the best behind-the-scenes highlights for you during the season?
You know, the coolest thing was talking to some of the mentors, like, off camera. They would whisper in your ear nice things, like, “Dude, you’re awesome, man.” Hearing that stuff from, like, Smokey Robinson or Jamie Foxx or Quentin Tarantino or Randy Travis, any one of them — it’s just, like, mind-boggling, you know? I got a gift from [Once stars and songwriters] Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova after I sang “Falling Slowly” [from the film]. They were just like, “Thank you so much. You were great.” Like, it almost brought me to tears. They gave me this vinyl of the [Once] album, and they signed it, and wrote this letter to me. That meant so much.

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