Who knew you needed to keep up on football to feed your American Idol addiction? Yesterday afternoon, season 8 champ Kris Allen debuted three new songs from his forthcoming debut CD at a Miami Dolphins tailgate party. Two of the tracks — “Before We Come Undone” and “Written All Over My Face” — were ones I’d heard back in September, and asked Kris about when I interviewed him at Z100 the day he premiered “Live Like We’re Dying.” The third song, “Can’t Stay Away,” is one of 13 ditties that made the final track list for Kris’ self-titled debut, due Nov. 17 from 19 Recordings/Jive. I know there’s been some chatter among music-industry prognosticators that Kris is too low-key to compete in a post-Idol world, but I suspect those folks haven’t actually listened to any of the man’s music. Here’s their big opportunity — all three songs, plus “Live Like We’re Dying,” are embedded below! Ch-ch-check ’em out for yourself, then join our informal focus group by way of some exclusive PopWatch polls. (It’s okay to vote “woot!” for all three; I did!)
“Before We Come Undone” (written by Kris Allen, Lindy Robbins, Greg Kurstin): An angsty pop track that intriguingly pushes the upper range of Kris’ vocals as he sings about fighting to save a relationship on the rocks. I’d say it’s got one of those choruses that wedges in your brain like a popcorn kernel in your teeth, except in the case of this melody, I’m not sure anyone would have any desire to get it unstuck. I’m particularly digging the repetition on “make it before…make it before!” and the way Kris gets all growly on the bridge. Also of interest: It sounds as thought the season 8 Idol has amped up the guitars and given the song a rockier edge than the demo I heard a few weeks ago, a smart move that makes this an obvious contender for a second single.
“Written All Over My Face”: Like debut single, “Live Like We’re Dying,” this one’s a wordy jam written by Steve Kipner, Andrew Frampton, and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue and Mark Sheehan, with Kris taking sides in that age-old “Men Are From Mars” debate between showing emotions and talking ’em to death: “I’d rather shut my mouth/ Than to spell it out/ There’s no doubt/ That it’s written all over my face.” But far from being a snoozy “relationship ballad,” “WAOMF” has a funky little rhythm to it, and proves that Kris Allen Can Dance — even if season 8’s brutal choreographed numbers indicated otherwise. I defy you to resist a bout of chair-boogying when Kris and his band layer the chorus with the “sometimes love gets lost in translation” bridge. Good stuff.
“Can’t Stay Away” (written by Kris Allen, Lindy Robbins, Mike Elizondo): Another song that’s less acoustic troubadour and more funky pop-rocker than one might have expected, “Can’t Stay Away” possesses a chorus that could be a close cousin to Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be.” In fact, if this one ends up scoring some airplay, maybe those crazy kids from Glee can mash ’em up, no? “I don’t want to…but I can’t stay away from you.” I expect residuals if this happens!