Kris Allen Steps Up To Challenge Adam Lambert's Lead On 'American Idol'

Kris Allen emerged as a threat to Adam Lambert’s frontrunner status on Tuesday night’s “American Idol.”

The handsome 23-year-old from Arkansas, who performed the Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t Know Sunshine,” with a portable piano on the “Idol” stage, gave a moving rendition of the song that had judge and producer Randy Jackson almost ready to sign him up.

“For the last couple weeks you’ve been slaying them, dude. You’re so in the zone, dude,” the judge said. “So creative, so cool. Loving you, loving you.”

But while Kris may be cutting into Adam’s fan base, the raven-haired rocker kept things strong with a performance of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” which floored Paula Abdul.

“True genius does not fulfill expectations, true genius shatters it,” she said. “There are artists who have longevity in this business because of their unique and riveting performance. I’ll name a few: Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler and Adam Lambert.”

While British judge Simon Cowell wasn’t quite ready to place Adam in the same league as the Rolling Stones frontman, he did offer some complimentary words.

“That was very brave, Adam. I’ve got to hand it to you, at least we got rid of some of the karaoke nonsense we’ve seen tonight,” Simon said (he previously criticized Anoop Desai and Megan Joy). “It was original. I don’t think it’s going to make you as popular as last week, but I don’t think it matters now. You had a great time.”

And Danny Gokey also offered a strong performance, despite having to attend his grandfather’s funeral last week, something not mentioned on Tuesday’s broadcast. Singing the Rascal Flatts song, “What Hurts The Most,” all of the judges commended the spectacled singer on performing the song in a stage-stealing fashion.

“This week, if I’m being honest, I thought it was your best performance of [the season], I know we’re only three in, but it was so much better than the first two,” Simon said. “That’s what it’s about. Get a great song, sing it brilliantly and do your version.”

But while things went well for several of the men, Allison Iraheta, who Kara previously said had a voice from the heavens, was ripped apart – not for her version of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” but for her outfit. Her burgundy strapless dress with embellishments, and her “Bedrock” Pebbles-esque ponytail had all of the judges scratching their heads.

“Vocally, you can sing, you’ve got the voice… I liked the fact that you came out and played the guitar, but dude, what are you wearing?” Randy asked. “What is with this outfit man? Do you like it? (Crowd screams). I got mad love for you but I did not get the ensemble tonight.”

“Allison, we can’t ignore the outfit,” Simon chimed in. “It was like something out of ‘The Adams Family’ or something. Tonight’s theme is Halloween. I’ll tell you why it bothered me — because it was like a slightly precocious daughter trying to dress like a rock star and sound like one.”

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