Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 12:15 UK

American Idol winner is crowned

Kris Allen
Kris Allen's win secures him a record deal

Student Kris Allen has been named the surprise winner of the eighth season of American Idol.

The 23-year-old from Arkansas beat favourite Adam Lambert, 27, to the title in Wednesday's finale.

"I'm sorry, I don't even know what to feel right now. This is crazy," he said after hearing he had won.

Host Ryan Seacrest said nearly 100 million votes had been cast during the show, which featured Keith Urban and Lionel Richie as guest stars.

Allen, who won over audiences with his all-American good looks and by putting a personal spin on popular tunes, appeared shocked as musical theatre actor Lambert embraced him after the announcement.

'Completely shocked'

"It feels good, but Adam deserves this," he said on stage.

Allen was considered a long shot, but he wowed the show's judges during the semi-final with his rendition of Kanye West's Heartless and secured his place in the final week.

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen
Allen was visibly shocked by the show's result

Even hours after winning, Allen appeared stunned saying: "I felt shocked almost every week that I made it - to be the American Idol, I'm completely shocked."

His three-song winning set included Bill Withers' Ain't no Sunshine and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.

Lambert had been widely considered the frontrunner since early in the season, where he dazzled audiences and the show's judges with his powerhouse off-the-charts vocal range and dramatic flair.

But backstage, Lambert appeared unfazed by the loss.

"For me it's not really about what happened tonight, it's about tomorrow," he said.

During the two-hour finale Lambert duetted with Kiss while Allen sang with Keith Urban. The pair were then joined on stage by rockers Queen to perform We Are The Champions.

There were also other performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Cyndi Lauper, Carlos Santana and Rod Stewart.

The result echoed last year's contest, when the runaway favourite also lost out.

Judge Simon Cowell all but crowned David Archuleta after the finale, praising his "knockout performance" - but the victory went to David Cook instead.

But past contestants have proven that losing the title does not mean you are a loser - Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, who finished fourth and seventh in their respective seasons, have gone on to huge success in the US with Hudson winning an Oscar in 2007 for her performance in Dreamgirls.

Allen will now release debut single No Boundaries, which was co-written by judge Kara DioGuardi.

The finale can be watched on ITV2 on Friday 22 May at 2100BST.

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