Nobody knew Kris Allen when he first performed in Group Two of the "American Idol" Top 36. He hadn't received a heart-tugging clip package when he auditioned. He hadn't been placed in a group-from-hell in Hollywood week. He wasn't asked to sing for his life on The Chair. 

Allen, who knew he'd made the Top 36, had to watch those early episodes wondering where he'd disappeared to.

"I think there's maybe a little bit of just like, 'Wow. They're not showing me.' But it was more shock than anything, because I felt like I'd done my thing and a lot of other people were getting shown," Allen tells reporters on Friday morning. "But for me, that's kinda the way I live my life, though. I'm kinda laid-back and low-key and every once-in-a-while I'll stick my head out. That's kinda how I did the competition and it seemed to work out."

That's an understatement. 

On Wednesday (May 20), Kris Allen was crowned the latest American Idol, winning the title, the glory and a nifty little microphone statue. But when the humble Arkansas native got his first chance to speak to host Ryan Seacrest, with confetti falling all around him, he immediately told his competition, glam-rocker Adam Lambert, that he deserved to win.

"I still feel that way. I feel like Adam deserved it just as much as I did," Kris clarifies. "He was the most consistent person all year. He was seriously one of the most gifted performers that I've ever met. And he's really just a great guy and we became great friends and we told each other that day, we were just like, 'You deserve it' and he shot it back at me. I think it could have gone either way and America could definitely not have got it wrong."

Much of the media has portrayed Kris' victory as a major upset, especially after the Tuesday "Idol" performance show ended w ith the judges politely praising his overall body of work and barely referencing his rendition of the Kara DioGuardi co-penned "No Boundaries." What some fans interpreted as a slight, though, didn't bother Kris in the least.

"After we sang that last song, that song is hard to sing, and I don't think me or Adam were happy with our performances at all," Kris admits. "I think they were not trying to judge us on that song more than anything and just judge us on the year, which was kinda nice. It felt great to be judged on what we'd done throughout the year and not exactly what we'd done on that song."

Kris is now ready to join the rest of the Top 10 on the "American Idol" tour before going into the studio to record his first album.

"For me, I felt like I did exactly what I wanted to do on the show that I would want to do on a record, may stray a little bit on some of the stuff," he says. When I was on the show and I did 'Ain't No Sunshine,' I felt like that's the kind of stuff that I wanted to do, stuff that has that feel."

He adds, "For me, the only think I really want to do is just be respected in the music industry and my music be respected. Whether that means selling albums or winning Grammys or just people liking your music, that's all that I really want to do."

 

Other highlights from Kris Allen's "American Idol" exit conference call on Friday (May 21): 

On the cover of "Heartless" that pushed him from dark horse to favorite: "We got to do whatever we wanted to do as long as it got cleared and I was listening to the Kanye album, cuz I think it's great and the song came across and I was just like 'What if I did this song and made it my own?' and I was just like, 'You know what? I'm not gonna ask anybody about it. I'm just gonna go for it and be bold and be risky.' And I did it and I think it got a lot of good reviews and so I was really excited that I got to do something like that, because I think it showed people what I can do."

On why, exactly, if all four judges agreed that "No Boundaries" was arranged too high for him, nobody changed the darned arrangement: "I'd actually sang it that morning and it was fine. It is a high song, but I had done it that morning and it sounded great and then I think both of us just got tired and there were some sound issues where we couldn't hear ourselves, but it was definitely a rough night at the end. We were both getting really tired."

On his own songwriting: "I love writing music. It's the way that I express how I feel, because I'm not a man of many words. I'm not very expressive or emotional or whatever, but it comes out in my music and that's kinda who I am. I don't know how great I am at it. I think I'm getting better and I think that the more that  you do it, especially when you start collaborating with people as well, you just get a lot better at it."

On the support of his home state: "I know Arkansas gets behind something that they believe in and I feel like they believed in me. I definitely would not be here without Arkansas, because I know they put in a lot of votes and you guys are awesome."

On his most important "Idol" lesson: "For me, I've always been a procrastinator and on the show, I felt like the times that I worked the hardest were were times that I did the best and the best things happened. So the biggest thing that I've learned was that seriously, the harder you work for the thing that you love the most, then everything that you want is going to come true."