I wish this song was performed as a pop-country hit. And sung by a girl. Maybe in 2001. Kris Allen — versatile, likeable, g-g-gorgeous — has some chops to tackle the gigantic range of “No Boundaries” but just because he can doesn’t mean he should.
On its face, AI judge/industry vet/bikini-donning Kara DioGuardi penned a country single, we just didn’t hear it in that treatment. There’s the beautiful vocal harmonies dripping from the chest-beating capital-C Chorus and the acoustic guitar accompaniment, the sentimental do-it-yourself-ness and allusions to, erm, wide open spaces.
As Allen’s curtain rises, the first glimpse the majority of the non-AI-watching world gets is dewy-eyed piano accompaniment and a synth that sounds like it was made on a kids’ Casio. The arrangements are huge, start to end, and borders on relentless, though thankfully contains its own excitement in the obligatory voice-and-guitar breakdown before the big finish.
As was iterated in the show itself, the song is a little too high for our competitor, falling short of goose bumps on those diva-like high notes.
But the biggest hurdles in the song “No Boundaries” is that it was written for nobody in particular (except, well, just an American Idol champ). Clichés like “Climb another mountain… Make it through the pain… just when you think the road is going nowhere… Nothing’s gonna bring me down” can be anybody’s anthem because those are lines that have been seemingly sung for the last six decades of popular music in America. Doesn’t make them bad lines, just indistinctive.
DioGuardi’s take on the generic American Idol plight is really, really sweet at parts, delivered as best possible by Allen, particularly on those rolling “hurricanes.” But his “one thing” all season was that he was the “dark horse,” no bombastic family story or illness or mysterious “other life.” He’s believable, singing an unbelievably unbelieveable song.
But such is AI life. This has to be his song, it’s what will now be shopped to every pop radio station in the country. If they arranged “No Boundaries” with strings, I think for some reason it’d sound eerily close to “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes” by Aerosmith, and then they could stick it at the end of an action-romance movie. Or maybe just sick Carrie Underwood on it.
Purchase the song here: