This sweetheart of American Idol earned the devotion of fans for his quiet coffeehouse folk pop, his boy-next-door good looks and his instrumental ability during the show's eighth season. He earned the respect (and surprise) of the world when he beat out the bigger, brighter star power (and vocal power) of rival and friend Adam Lambert to win. Allen grew up in Arkansas, where his mom and dad -- a former rocker himself -- encouraged his musical endeavors, which included taking up the viola. He went to college to study business but kept up his musical interests, writing songs, playing gigs and recording an EP. He dropped out during his junior year to pursue music full-time. Allen went to the Louisville auditions for Idol mostly as moral support for his brother, Daniel, who was also auditioning; only Kris went on. Just before heading off to Hollywood, he married his longtime sweetheart, Katy (the inspiration for many of his songs). Talk about a good luck charm. Six months after his big win, Allen released his self-titled full-length debut, featuring the hit single "Live Like We're Dying."