Caleb Johnson on Puppet Masters and Being a Real Rocker (VIDEO)


American Idol winner, Caleb Johnson, sat down with Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo music for an interview and performance a few days before the Idols hit the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.

I’m going to transcribe this for posterity! Caleb goes on record to say that his debut album, Testify, which dropped earlier this week, is all him.

“I got to run rampant and really wild with the process, and really just put myself in everything,” Caleb told Yahoo. “There’s this kind of, like, bad rap or mythology about Idol, where it’s like, ‘[The winners] don’t have control,’ blah blah blah, but I can attest I had 110 percent involvement and in every single aspect of the record. There was no ‘powers-that-be’ that was pulling the strings saying, ‘Oh, you need to do this,’ or whatever. It was me.”

He also talks about what the songwriting process was like as he and his team cranked out an album within only a few weeks. It was a very hectic and creative process. Working with pro songwriters really taught him a lot.

Caleb stuck with his earlier assertion that he’s the first “real rocker” to win Idol. When Lyndsey suggested that season 7 winner, David Cook, rocked pretty hard, Caleb said. “David Cook…he’s like pop rock. He never really did stuff like Zeppelin or Rush. He was more so. like…Alternative? Or pop rock stuff.”

Check out the full interview below. See more at Yahoo Music


Caleb also performed a few acoustic songs in the Yahoo studio. Check out the first single from Testify, “Only One.”

“Save Me”

Here’s the song he debuted on the American Idol Live tour, “Fighting Gravity”

About mj santilli 33694 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. Aww, I have developed an affection for Caleb’s big mouth. LOL. Well at least he speaks his mind, and I get to be entertained by the aftermath.

    ETA: So, to contribute some positivity to what is likely to not be a positive comments section, I admire his confidence in himself. Heh.

  2. I hope he has some sort of device that helps him get his foot out of his mouth, because it’s sure in there alot. :)

    But one thing about him…he’s not afraid to say what he thinks and that can be very entertaining even when he ends up ticking off whole fanbases, lol

  3. The only real Retro Vegas Karaoke Rocker!
    I LOVE this guy’s interviews. He always makes me smile. I must prepare some photochops :)

  4. Oh. Right. Because a major label is going to let a complete newbie have a complete creative control while working on debut album. Right.

  5. Maybe if they don’t give a flying fig about the outcome. My asstalking speculation is the label knew they were not going to spend a dime on him before he recorded a note. They might have let 19 do whatever they wanted.

  6. Eh, the label doesn’t expect anything from the album so why not left him amuse himself for the same money?

  7. I’m just passing on these interviews. They only annoy. Saying what one thinks requires that they first do some thinking. I don’t find this to be a given here… and every time someone almost convinces me to reconsider my dislike of the guy, Caleb convinces me I was right the first time. Eh.


  8. I think I’m actually going to miss him when he fades off into obscurity.

  9. At this stage in the promo process, all the Idols (at least once we get to the WGWG period) had extensive creative control and their personalities were expressed in every well-chosen note. He can’t say anything else, and of course he says it in Johnson-speak. As a human being, I hope he did actually have a good time and get listened to.

    If Johnson would stick to characterizing Cook as alt-rock (not pop-rock) and stipulate that he means “on the show,” rather than “for all times and places,” I’d give him that one. I make the “Cook is alt-rock, KA is pop-rock [or was, idek now], DeWyze is folk-rock, as are P2’s hits despite his preference for jazz-rock” distinction all the time, but I don’t then follow it up by claiming to be hard rock while singing two glurgy ballads.

    That said, I’m looking forward to having the office to myself and seeing if the non-glurgy-ballad goes acoustic successfully.

  10. well, to me, Elise Testone Whole Lotta Love is the single best Rock performance on AI. Adam Lambert had some great ones singing both classic rock or making non-rock songs into rock. Then there was of course David Durbin along with Cook etc. Even Haley Reinhart sang Zeppelin. Only difference from Celab and the others is they showed versatility unlike him

  11. I don’t want you to upset, but none of them except David, won their seasons.

  12. Well,the thing is, Caleb can sing very well. (No, I’m not saying any idols couldn’t sing very well.) Just saying that Caleb can. And in a world where Rising Star and various other reality shows seem to have a superfluous number of people who can’t sing well, that ought to count for something. Yes, after listening to these, I’m learning toward buying his album.

  13. Maybe he did do some thinking. I don’t agree with him regarding Cookie, but it’s his opinion and at least he expresses what he thinks.

  14. I don’t understand why Caleb is trying so hard to separate themselves from other winners. Guy, you’re not wgwg! Even if you hang on every guitar, which Phillip plays during one concert, you’ll never be wgwg. This combination, which you don’t have. If you collect all the confidence that David, Kris, Lee and Phillip had in their seasons – we do not receive a tenth of yours. And none of them never managed to offend their fans.
    Go in peace, and not me nervous.

  15. Johnson and P2 actually run about par on tactlessness. It’s just that when you have a 5x platinum single, that’s “authentic,” while when your album’s on track to sell 10k, it’s more likely to come across as oafish.

  16. lol I think that Caleb just isn’t very bright or musically astute. And “Only One” is so definitely “real rock”. lol He hasn’t given himself any wiggle room to claim that he was unhappy with any part of this album. Any backtracking will be embarassing.

  17. Caleb is already half a year says what he thinks. I don’t dream that someone taught him to think before he starts to speak, but sometimes I wish that someone had taught him to be silent. We say “the power of the fool is silence”.

  18. I just think that the label didn’t care enough to exert the energy to try to advise Caleb on the album.

  19. Caleb has a good voice and has no problem singing on key. In those areas, I place him well above Lee and P2 (as winners).

  20. He really can’t because of his definitive statements on total creative control. All he can do is realize that despite being exposed to millions of viewers for months, he and his music appeal to a relatively very small audience.

  21. In fairness, we must admit that the last two seasons has won the most powerful voices. And in fairness, we must admit that Caleb was the most entertaining in his season (Season 12 was entertaining as a visit to the crematorium).
    I think someone needs to learn how to articulate their wishes to Fortuna.

  22. Eh, they all make similar definitive statements in early promo, and it’s never stopped one from chattering later about how the first album “wasn’t really them.”

    Journalists will never call them on it, and their fans will happily continue to quote both (conflicting) statements as completely true.

  23. I think it’s part of the early 1970s persona. There was a water shortage back then.

    That, or his handlers need to rethink his shade of foundation.

  24. Cook never did those bands songs on the show because in his season they had a narrow theme every week. Neal Diamond, Dolly Parton, Broadway, etc. He performs Zepplin in his live shows, and he plays guitar while doing so. Something we will never see this “rocker” do.

  25. While I expect newbie Idols to learn from what their predecessors did on the show (and few enough bother — boo hiss!), I don’t go so far as to expect them to intuit what their predecessors would have done if the show format had been different at the time.

    I’ll admit to having a deep, sick love for the vision of Johnson spending the past five years at DCO, pouring lovingly over Cook concert vids, but I’ll bet that didn’t actually happen. If he evaluated Cook from the POV of an Idol viewer, by Cook’s performances on the results shows… the last song he’d have seen would be LML, which sounds stylistically similar to a Matchbox Twenty single of the same era. Rob Thomas’ll tell ya that he ain’t hard rock.

  26. Yes, thank you – something Johnson seems to be unaware of – he seems to ‘think’ DC had choices to sing whatever song in a narrow theme week, and they were all narrow. I wonder what he would have sung for Andrew Lloyd Weber week, or Mariah Carey, etc. The trick DC pulled off that Caleb was not asked to do was to take these genres and rearrange a song within the category that still showed who he was as an artist.

    But Caleb isn’t even saying “within the confines of his season” – so obviously he doesn’t consider Muse, or Nine Inch Nails, or Kings X , Or Rock and Roll, Or Hot for Teacher, Hunger Strike, Alice in Chains, etc, etc – (six years worth of covers, at the rate of two per show) -to be Rock – nor has he ever heard “Bar ba Sol, “Kiss on the Neck” “I Did It For You”, “Heroes”, “Paper Heart” – – or countless other rock songs from DC’s albums – nor anything from Axium or Analog Heart.

    So I fail to see what his opinion is based on – but hey – even Alice in Wonderland believed “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” So can Johnson, if he wants to. SMH.

  27. At the time David Cook was on the show, Led Zepplin had never cleared a song to be performed. I believe the first time was the next year when Adam Lambert did Whole Lotta Love. David Cook has done Led Zepplin, NIN, Muse, and several other rock covers since

  28. So I guess according to Caleb Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, and Chris Cornell aren’t true rockers because they are alternative rock? Alternative rock is rock.

  29. I could see why he wouldn’t think Cook is Hard Rock, but neither is Caleb really. He shouldn’t compare himself to another winner, especially if he hasn’t heard all his work.

  30. “Caleb stuck with his earlier assertion that he’s the first “real rocker” to win Idol. When Lyndsey suggested that season 7 winner, David Cook, rocked pretty hard, Caleb said. “David Cook…he’s like pop rock. He never really did stuff like Zeppelin or Rush. He was more so. like…Alternative? Or pop rock stuff.””
    Caleb, you just need to sit down, please! Rollin my eyes! LOL!

  31. At this point in Idol’s history, if you’re a male winner who makes noises in any subset of rock, you will be asked about your differences from or similarities to prior winners. Johnson never had control of whether he’d be put on the spot to make comparisons, only how he’d respond.

    He really, really should limit his comparisons to “on the show,” since that’s the limitation of the information he’s working from. I don’t think he’s at all responsible for learning Cook’s entire oeuvre, but he is responsible for accurately stating what he’s talking about.

  32. David Durbin’s brother James was my favorite ;)
    ..(I kid, I kid)

  33. If you look at Lyndsey, she is leaning away from him so maybe he really DOES need a bath lol!

  34. He shouldn’t compare himself to any other winners, or put a label on their music, though.

  35. Not doing Rush is a sign of effing TASTE, you blockhead.
    I don’t care about what he says about other winners at this point; I just find it hilarious that he insists that trying to emulate the rock bands for whom I tend to have the least affection (and sometimes not even getting close to that) makes him “real.”
    No, it makes you a cave-dweller. Go catch up on the last 30 years of music and them come back.

  36. What is he supposed to do when interviewers run the “aren’t you just another white guy rock winner” line of questioning?

    I’d vote for tactfully changing the subject, but there were interviews where Cook tried to deal with awkward questions that way and really pissed off the interviewer, so that’s not a certain win even if done well.

    Cook is alt-rock, and that’s cutting him every possible benefit of the doubt on his Idol performances, both during his run and on results shows later. Honestly, drawing that conclusion instead of “pop rock” or “soft rock” requires ignoring at least 25% of his Idol songs (admittedly, mostly the ones forced on him), plus Idol performances or official singles of CBTM, Permanent (since it’s a ballad, which are harder to classify), DYFAM (heard every week for an entire season), TLG, FIM, and LML.

    I will completely grant that Cook has dealt graciously and tactically with a great number of challenges within the music industry and with trying to please a diverse fan base while maintaining a musical identity. But expecting people to place him musically by his live shows rather than his official singles and big TV performances is essentially expecting people to be devoted fans.

  37. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” :)

  38. Off topic, but I like this quote: “never argue with fools, because people may not see the difference.”

  39. Why just Cook? I want to hear what Caleb has to say about every other Idol winner & runner-up. Lol

  40. Way back in my school days, we would have said somebody like Caleb was suffering from “diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain.”

  41. Not doing Rush is a sign of effing TASTE, you blockhead.


    No, it makes you a cave-dweller. Go catch up on the last 30 years of music and them come back.

    The odd thing is, there are clues in his early Idol choices that he knows about the past 30 years of music, so I’m not sure what’s up with the increasingly adamant insistence, starting once he was in the Top 10 and escalating thereafter, that only music from the smelliest bit of the 1970s is the real thing. That’s the part where I think he made his own problems with marketability.

  42. He could sidestep the question of rock labels entirely, by saying something like “I really prefer rock from the 70s; that the music that feels the most authentic to me and I try to write songs like that. I think Cook was/is more of a 90s/2000s guy.”
    Same point, even hints at his (apparently sincerely held even if wrongheaded) idea that “his” era is more real, but doesn’t start slapping subgenre labels all over everything just to make him sound better.
    Of course, that would require tact and serious thoughts about the subject, neither of which I expect from him.

  43. Well, Cook sang The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” on rock week on AI. I guess that might be as close as he got to “hard rock” on the show, although I think it might be more psychedelic. However, unlike Caleb, he was “forced” to perform in some very restrictive genres, including Mariah Carey week. LOL!

    Cook’s page on the site “What Not to Sing” including a list of everything he performed:

  44. Caleb either has a very high opinion of himself or he’s clueless, in either case he needs to develop a filter when he speaks if he doesn’t want to alienate potential buyers of his music. I don’t care, I sort of get a kick out him sticking his foot in his mouth, can’t wait to hear him when he starts back peddling. Another observation, Idol must have cut the budget for wardrobe and stylists, he could really use some help.

  45. It’s video time! In which, hair shirts being totally out of stock at Urban Outfitters and on back order at Walmart, the “hard rocker” has to perform the sensitive acoustic versions of his songs.

    Only One — Song has poor bones and making it acoustic brings out the triteness of the lyrics. Johnson’s bluesy tone is probably the most bearable approach, although everything goes to hell on the bridge and just sounds strained.

    Save Me — There we go. Nicely blues-y, pleasing rhythm. I’d like to hear a little more noodling around with it so that every chorus isn’t at a rock scream, but it hangs together and wouldn’t cause me to ask the waiter for my check and flee.

    Fighting Gravity — Having to sing the Meteorite Song acoustic is Nemesis delivering a strong kick in the balls to Johnson.

    If he wants to change his mind later about all of the record being totally him, and maybe settle on only the blues-y, southern rock-ish, more soulful parts being authentic, that would be such a good call that I probably wouldn’t bother mocking it.

  46. I figure anyone who goes into show business has a healthy ego but there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is not very attractive.

  47. Not only is Caleb the poorest selling Idol winner he’s also the grungiest.

  48. Oh man, I could’ve gone my entire life without learning about that! lol I confess that I literally got queasy reading it.

  49. So if he had 110% control, he bears 110% the blame if/when it flops. Interscope can walk away happy without breaking a sweat.

  50. Same as Candice Glover chose to do with her album promo, where all the delays were about her wanting to get it perfect, not about the label being dithering idiots (which I would have thought they were even without her later passive-aggressive twitter-bitching).

    You can’t sell an album by going along with “yeah, man, that was just all kinda fake and just manipulated and full of compromises, and I just do not know why I’m still just bleating about meteors, but it’s kinda a pretty song anyway and it makes the old ladies cry.”

    Buyers want to believe in authenticity and to hear that the artist believes in the work and is proud of it. It’s Johnson’s job to get out there and say that stuff (plus, he’s gotta get through the day with some sense of self-respect, and being a Rush fan already puts him in the hole there). Interscope was never going to break a sweat over dumping him in due time — record labels have no conscience, only large liquor and pot bills.

  51. “Eh, they all make similar definitive statements in early promo, and it’s never stopped one from chattering later about how the first album “wasn’t really them.”

    Many do, but not “all”. In fact, it turns out that P2 was probably pretty honest about the compromises that he made artistically in putting together his debut album.

  52. I’m fairly certain they will have no issue walking regardless

  53. This is true… which raises the question of why nobody thought it odd when P2 did the usual line about “the first album was rushed and not really me” in promoting the second one, after he’d been allowed to do whatever he liked as long as there was another folk-rock single to follow Home. (But also, P2 gets away with making no sense on the “authenticity” card.)

    All of them should just say “I’ve grown a lot as an artist and had new things to say in new ways” when time for the next album rolls around. I’d be less likely to wonder if this year’s model was l-y-i-n-g if prior years’ cupcakes hadn’t revealed that they’d been when they said similar things.

  54. I think that with Iovine having left UMG for Apple (and his attention focused elsewhere) that nobody at the label cared a whit about what Caleb was doing, especially since they knew from single sales during the show that there was no way that his album was going to make money, let alone break even (no matter how frugal they were). They were just fulfilling the contractual obligation with 19/AI. With P2, UMG saw some moneymaking potential there, so that, plus Iovine’s interest, meant that there was more label “input” into P2’s debut album.

  55. Just watched the interview surprised the album wasn’t titled Cranked It Out.

  56. How the interview went from the other side of the camera
    “Caleb, your cue cards are ready. Make us proud!”

  57. ewww. Thanks for the warning and I went there anyway. And now I’m looking at Caleb in the rocket suit and yuck. just yuck.

  58. I can’t watch Caleb videos or listen to his interviews. I just came for the comments ;)

  59. how many ‘you knows’ and ‘likes’ can one person put in a conversation?

  60. He wasn’t the most entertaining for me on the show,, and I’m sure for a lot of others….
    although I do find his interviews quite entertaining….in a cringing kind of way!

  61. The fan requests that he sing the asteroid song (for the Fan Request theme) are what triggered his public complaint about r-words who tell him what he ought to sing.

    What Johnson was too young in wisdom and weak in the Force to understand is that if he hadn’t sung it then, TPTB would have given it to him at Top 2, instead of “Dream On.” There’s no way he was escaping the asteroid song.

  62. I am laughing at her side-eying him in one of those video screencaps up there. :)

  63. All I can say is he is the least gracious Idol winner ever. What sense does it make to continue to claim David Cook did not do “real rock”. I always liked Cook but he really won me over because he was smart, self-aware and gracious. Caleb could learn a lot about how to be an Idol winner from Cook.

    Whatever — Caleb’s album is now at #61 on iTunes, he will only be remembered for having low album sales.

    He has really overstayed his 15 minutes of fame.

  64. Even if one went by David Cook’s performances on Idol or his singles, he still did hard rock versions of Eleanor Rigby, Daytripper, Baba O Reily and Jumping Jack Flash when he came back to the show in 2010. He even turned Dream Big into a rock song . It wasn’t all soft rock or alternative. So even going just by what he did on the show, it wasn’t that much more hard rock than Caleb did.

  65. The thing is Caleb has a good voice. If he’s lucky, he may join up with an older band that plays music he enjoys. Bo Bice seems to be enjoying his tour as Blood, Sweat & Tears lead singer. IMO, I don’t Caleb can make it on his own.

  66. “Caleb could learn a lot about how to be an Idol winner from Cook.”

    Actually, he could learn a lot from just being self aware and gracious. He had no need to diss ANYONE to promote himself; I am not even a strong follower of Mr. Cook but he certainly hasn’t leant himself to rude behavior. Mr. Authentic is in for a rude downfall; it was completely unnecessary to comment on anything other than his own goals and path. By naming names he gets one of his own…asshole. What a shame. Rock stardom does not require you besmirch another’s talent but at the minimum you pump up your own. He will need some major wake up juice for sure. He’s a classical delusional. Sheesh…

  67. “What sense does it make to continue to claim David Cook did not do “real rock”

    Good question. It makes no sense at all, it just makes Johnson look like a dipstick who has to knock other people to build himself up.

    He could maybe just worry about the music ‘he’ is doing? SMH.

  68. Unless Caleb’s attitude changes, I can’t see any worthwhile band putting up with him for long.

  69. This has ZERO impact outside the dwindling Idol bubble. Danny Gokey has been forever painted as the ultimate AI villain, who was called delusional and stupid. He just got a #1 record.

  70. As far as I remember, Danny never insulted any other Idols’ musicianship or implied that he was the first Idol to do something. And while he did get a #1 album, it was in the Christian music genre (Caleb will end up selling more in his 1st week than Danny did). Which is a great achievement of course, but TBH mainstream audiences still have little to no clue who Danny is if they didn’t watch that season of Idol.

  71. Caleb stuck with his earlier assertion that he’s the first “real rocker” to win Idol. When Lyndsey suggested that season 7 winner, David Cook, rocked pretty hard, Caleb said. “David Cook…he’s like pop rock. He never really did stuff like Zeppelin or Rush. He was more so. like…Alternative? Or pop rock stuff.”

    Oh Caleb. You are so insufferably cute with your misplaced hubris and narrow definition of RAWK. May I introduce you to Mr. Jerry Gaskill?

    I’m sad for Idol that this is who they have as their ambassador during this last whimper. At least he’s going to make this post-season popcorn-worthy for us.

  72. The look on Lyndsey’s face in that screen grab is worth its weight in gold. Speaks volumes to me. lol

    What an ass. Sorry, he’s no more than a wannabe, nothing original about the guy. Nothing.

    Dude won a horribly weak season of Idol. That is and will be his claim to fame. Congrats!!

  73. I think there is at least one thing about Caleb that’s original: he’s the first total horse’s ass to win Idol.

  74. It’ll be interesting how much fallout might occur from Caleb’s proclamation that Cook is pop rock. From being out and about on social media, I’ve detected that many people who are Cook fans really like Caleb. But if they hear him open mouth and insert foot too many times about the Season 7 winner, I wonder how much affection they will have left for Mr. Johnson.

  75. Not original, simply copying the ass of a horse. The horse had it first. :-)

  76. “many people who are Cook fans really like Caleb”
    I’m not sure that’s really accurate. If many Cook fans really liked Caleb, wouldn’t Caleb have sold more during and post idol? Remember this…

    Hot Shot Debuts: There’s no question that the hottest of the Hot Shot Debuts this week belongs to newly-minted “American Idol” champion David Cook. The rock-inflected singer storms The Billboard Hot 100 at No. 3 with “The Time of My Life,” but doesn’t stop there: Cook also brings 10 other songs with him, setting a new record for most debuts in a week in the Hot 100’s 50-year history. Together, the 11 songs also mark the most by one artist to register on the chart since April 11, 1964, when the Beatles managed the same feat. Meanwhile, Cook enters Hot Digital Songs with 14 tracks, another record. “Life,” which bows at No. 1, moves 236,000 downloads, the eighth-best first-week digital sales tally and second-best for a debut male artist.

  77. He’d be wise to choose a winner other than one of the most beloved, too. :-)

    Again, dumbass.

  78. Lessons for future winners from Caleb Johnson’s reign as the “first real rocker”:

    1. Never use the term “real rock.” It is conflicted and divisive. For every fan who preens about how yes, this is finally REAL rock, you gain three anti-fans who don’t share your definition of “real rock.” This is especially important when rock press and rock radio PDs also don’t share your definition of “real rock” so they are ignoring your music.

    2. Walking the walk matters. If you’re claiming to be one genre (RAWK) while promoting a single that’s another (HAC SLUDGE), people will notice. Outside your core fanbase, the reaction will not be “oh, poor bebe, the single’s not really him” so much as “Dude! WTF? Stop that!”

    3. Never claim to be “first” at anything. Idol’s core fanbase is comparable to the sabermetrics people in baseball. We have stats on EVERYTHING. If you’re the first three-headed, tentacled winner from the planet Ob-Fuscatory, we can tell you about the six similar people who tanked at auditions in prior seasons and the two who left at Hollywood Week.

    4. Train your BFF to read MJ’s and tell you the bits that won’t make you cry. “Cook is alt-rock and I’m more 1970s blues-rock” would have been a uncontroversial statement (in the absence of anything about “real” rock). Stuff like that had been said many times.

    5. Just as you got sexier the further you advanced on Idol (well, maybe not YOU, Johnson, but it usually happens), you get smarter, more charming, and more “authentic” the more you sell. When your sales projections are roughly 10k, you get cut ZERO slack on sweetness and humbleness.

    6. Interviewers care if you’re an asshat in a way that annoys or embarrasses them. Once you’re not the shiny new Idol, it’ll be hard enough to get new interviews with the ones who flove you and want to nibble your muffins — because you no longer drive hits and views. Don’t limit that pool by exceeding safety parameters on asshattery.

    7. You’re going to end up doing sensitive acoustic performances of your “hard rock” songs, and if you do not plan ahead for this, they will sound like shit. There is no dodging this bullet. If your sound relies on really loud noises to carry a weak song, you are screwed.

  79. Lyndsey’s side-eye is the best thing about this whole thing. Other than that, Caleb’s opinions don’t interest me in the slightest.

  80. David Cook probably could care less whether he is the first Idol rocker. That kind of Idol identification is more of a stigma than anything in the real world.

  81. This will be my last post in any Caleb-related thread, because I keep having to type the same comments over and over again and frankly my hands are getting tired-LOL.

    Is Caleb well spoken? No, he’s not. Is it smart of him to compare himself to other idols? No, it’s not. But do I think Caleb is a bad guy? No I don’t. I don’t know him very well-and I keep that in mind when judging him. The other idols who did get to know him seem to like him-I saw the tour, I could kinda tell. They didn’t seem to hate him on finale night after he won and interrupted his performance to hug everyone for a whole minute and a half, which I thought was really sweet.

    I think Caleb is really talented, and has a great voice. His album is not hard rock, with the exception of maybe three songs. In addition, David Cook was not pop rock, especially after the show. But while on the show, Caleb was more hard rock than David. David Cook, by the way, is my all time favorite idol. Caleb’s labels are simply ignorance, and I think ignorance is not necessarily being an ass. It’s simply ignorance.

  82. I agree with your post, and the real problem with Caleb’s interviews is the real rock connotation. If he had said he is the first one to win with a classic rock sound, it wouldn’t be a problem, without comparisons to others. It’s also the way he says pop rock, with some distain that also puts me off to him.
    I think another good point is that the reason when David Cook came out with his first album, it was considered pop rock because the post grunge type of alternative rock was still popular. The classic rock that Caleb does hasn’t been popular since the 80s.

  83. I don’t think all Cook fans will like Caleb, but I think fans of the show who like rock would be more likely to like Caleb than the others, so there would be some overlap. I am a Cook fan, and I have seen some overlap among fans.
    Honestly, though, I liked Caleb on the show, and almost bought the album, but his comments are a major turnoff to me.

  84. In terms of listening, I’m more interested in the lyrics and my enjoyment of the overall song than in whether a more knowledgeable person would call it 1970s or 80s or 40s. As in, if I like it, who cares whether it’s derivative or unique or whatever. I realize those differences can affect radio play and whatnot, but I have rarely set my preferences according to what other people say.

  85. I don’t disagree with “some overlap.” I disagreed with “many people who are Cook fans really like Caleb.” Granted, Idol’s audience was down by 50% for Caleb’s season, but even 50% of “many” would result in a heck of a lot more than sales of 10K for the coronation single and 10K (maybe) for the debut album.

  86. If Cook still had the quantities of fans he had in May 2008, he would be selling a lot more than the 10-15k that he normally moves with an Idol appearance to promote a single.

  87. I thought he was a student of AI. He should know better. Be a little humble.

  88. A #1 record in a very narrow genre—Christian Contemporary.

    I wouldn’t give him any more credit than he deserves. Country kicked him to the curb, basically.

    Also, Danny is making music in a genre where the pimping of his dead wife is considered “inspirational” rather than annoying (or mercenary).

  89. I didn’t care for Caleb before all of the R… name calling, so this new foot in mouth thing isn’t going to affect my choice or opinion. I listened, thought 2 songs were a bit catchy but didn’t stand up to replay, so I passed on his CD.

  90. He was singing in a genre I tend to like – so I was waiting for the album, and willing to give him a hearing – but I can’t say that I especially liked him as a performer on the show – (there was more show boating than interpretation) and I know nothing about him as an artist. As far as interactions? I already have TMI, and it’s not good.

    On the ‘banged out’ album so far, the songs have not been impressive – the artist has been even less so – and power notes are not all there is to the game. JMO.

  91. OMG! David Cook just mentioned at his concert tonight that he was perusing social media today and saw that someone had said that he wasn’t really rock. LOLOL! He mentioned he was more than just one thing, then noodled something a little jazzy. He then went on to sing Rock & Roll and Whole Lotta Love. Haha! Way to go David Cook! :D

  92. Holy Crap – At the Kokomo, Indiana United Way Concert tonight and David refers to this remark! He doesn’t name any names – but this is an unmistakeably pointed performance of the Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll” and Whole Lotta Love mash up he’s been doing for a couple years.

    More later.

  93. LOL! Quote from David…”So if you see that person… let him know”.

  94. So you did. *snerk*

    And I’m still listening to the end of the song! Crowd goes wild.

    David says “Thank You – So if you see that person – *chuckles* – Just let ’em know” – Heh. Then closes with “Light On”.

  95. Probably saw the chatter about this on his Twitter timeline – people are not pleased with Johnson trying to be dismissive of David’s music, find it as uncalled for and untrue as the posters here have done, and it is being talked about.

    I think, in the nicest possible way – he was told to sit down.

  96. So Cook seriously believes that anybody beyond his core fanbase knows what he performs at shows?

    Johnson doesn’t have the market cornered on arrogance.

    Once upon a time, Cook would have had the confidence in his own career prospects to just perform the song and not get involved in petty disputes with less successful Idols.

    This makes his fanbase feel good but it makes him look petty and over-concerned with social media b.s.

  97. Eh, I’m gonna disagree with that opinion, Eilonwy, pretty much across the board.

    This is very much within the Idol Family – just like going to mentor last season’s Idols was – It isn’t about career prospects, IMO – it’s about appropriate behavior.

    But that’s just my opinion – as always.

  98. Watch the clip I posted. It’s his “2nd” hometown – lots of people he knows in the audience. He doesn’t name names, only we in “the bubble” know whom he’s referring to. And he did it with humor, as an intro to R&R/Whole Lotta Love.

  99. Hey, maybe we’ve been set up by Caleb & DC. They’re in it together….. Nah.

  100. I don’t think that was arrogant or petty at all. I think it was very disrespectful what Caleb said and I’m glad he was called out on it.

    And it isn’t even knowing what he performs at shows. Caleb is incorrect even saying that David didn’t do rock on Idol, because he did even within the confines of the show.

  101. Eh – I think you are reading too much into it. DC did not indicate that Caleb or anyone should know what songs he performs. He never mentioned Caleb by name. He didn’t name call back – nyah nyah you suck too. Doesn’t seem like a controversy at all – just an introduction to a song that he already plays. It’s off the cuff banter – and only a handful of people know what he is talking about.

  102. The only way Johnson or anybody else could know that Cook performs Led Zep is to follow his shows, since he’s never done so on a TV appearance.

    History has already spoken. Johnson’s spent the summer performing to a backing track in half-empty theaters (to lukewarm/negative reviews), promoting his “rock” album with a glurgy HAC ballad, resulting in abysmal sales that probably won’t support his own tour. He hasn’t enjoyed the benefits of winning Idol that Cook did, and it’s unlikely he ever will. There should be nothing Johnson can do or say that would threaten Cook enough to justify even a wink-wink-nudge-nudge slap back.

    Cook used to be a person who didn’t feed or get involved with fanwars. Johnson was an idiot to make the “real rock” statement in the first place, but I’d originally agreed with the poster who said it was unlikely that Cook cared in the least what Johnson thought. Now it turns out that Johnson had the power to sting Cook’s ego — enough that he’d “punch down” in order to win a fanwar. (And since it was a given that it’d be repeated all over social media, the “handful of people” thing doesn’t fly.)

    I’ve generally defended Cook’s graciousness, compromises, tactical choices, and industry savvy… but this one, no.

  103. Yes, but since it was pretty completely described by fans, I don’t see why that matters.

    Cook did what he was reported to have done. Watching him do it makes me like it less, not more.

  104. The implication by Caleb was that David didn’t do rock. That wouldnt take knowing what David does in his shows, or that he actually covered LZ.

    And I don’t think this is necessarily starting a fanwar, because he didn’t mention Caleb by name. Only people who were aware of the situation will understand the reference.

  105. If asked who is more rock between C.Johnson and D.Cook, I bet the general public would ask back “who are they”?

  106. I think it matters, because, watching it and listening to the moment as it was happening – I did not see or hear a moment like you have characterized it to be. I am not assuming facts not in evidence here about what David expected any one to know. David was laughing – It was amusing – and it was effective – while still being very entertaining. IMO.

    So on this, we will agree to disagree.

  107. Only one way to settle this dispute. Idol-Rock-Off. Guitars at 20 paces.

  108. I still totally disagree with you – I don’t think it stung at all – he found an intro to a song and did it with laughter. Nor did he in any way imply that Caleb would know that he did Zep or any other songs. It’s just light hearted banter.

  109. And it followed his dedication to Michael Johns and Heroes. That was a heavy moment.

  110. Moreover, Caleb is a lousy interview. No one will accuse him of being thoughful or articulate (…or a word nerd. lol)

  111. Since I’ve never seen CJ actually play a guitar and sing at the same time, it would be a slam dunk for Cookie.

  112. It did. He had just finished talking about Michael, and singing “Heroes” with so much gravitas that the notes were ringing – and – he was a little choked up with that intro about Michael and the Idol Family…

    It is consistent with his usual practice to go for something to lighten the moment in the next intro – which he did. This ‘fan war’ stuff, OTOH – is a stretch. IMO.

  113. I agree. Cook isn’t worried about Caleb Johnson. He’s just having fun and connecting with his fans — a strength of his.

  114. A few words:
    1. I’m not going to say that Cook is not the rocker is not true, and I’m not stupid.
    2. But the play covers somewhere no one makes a rocker and proves nothing. PP takes the rap-mix at his concerts, but I want to see who will call his rapper.
    3. All that David was able to prove to us, he never left the AI. But we knew it always, and even a couple of days ago it was the reason for his fans in the “bubble” is proud and inflate cheeks.
    4. I’m not going to brand him a shame, how Eilonwy does. But I would prefer that nothing like this has happened. “Dogs bark, but the caravan goes on”, if you understand what I’m talking about.
    5. And thanks for the video. And for the tribute of MJ.

  115. Although I think this whole thing is pretty petty, what’s more important, IMO, than the general public’s opinion is the actual the rock industry’s opinion.
    Searching for both Caleb and David’s names on 2 of the biggest rock sites, Caleb does win by a hair I’m afraid: 1 mention of singing with KISS at the Idol finale…

    (**For other rock comparisons, search the names of other Idol “rockers” on these sites and see what you get.)

  116. If DC “never left the AI” how does he have a top 30 country song? His own music is eclectic, as he constantly proves to anyone who listens to his music. His own writing proves he can do rock, country, HAC or alternative. CJ is a one trick pony. Never mixes it up, then talks trash about the ones that paved the way for him to be on AI. He needs someone to filter his interviews. JMO

  117. I’m open to anyone who wants to sing rock. That’s good for me. :) Caleb is pretty good at it.

  118. 2. David Cook also has written many rock songs, including some hard rock. So it’s more than just playing rock covers that makes him a rocker.

    3. Doesn’t prove anything about not leaving the Idol bubble. The reason this is at all connected to Idol is because Caleb was from there too. Doesn’t mean that David hasn’t moved beyond the Idol bubble, it is Caleb that is still there, and his comments that has started this.

    Loved the MJ tribute too.

  119. A mentioned that someone played with Kiss means nothing about how respected they are in the rock community. There are many in the rock community that have a favorable opinion of David Cook, and that includes Chris Cornell, Raine Maida, Steven Van Zant, Richie Samborra, Jonny Rzesnik, and Steven Tyler thought he was good when he was on Idol. I think even Jon Bon Jovi talked about David in an interview. Jerry Gaskill from a band called Kings X thought David’s cover of their song Dogman was so good that he put it on their page and and sat in with the band one night. Ed Roland from Collective Soul was also impressed with David’s version of The World I know. So I’m sure he has a lot more respect from the rock community than Caleb has, even right when he came off the show.

  120. And Cook will be lucky to have the careers of Scotty, Jordin, Phillip (all of who have recently written Top 10 hits), Taylor (Vegas success), Lee (record deal), Kris (with 3rd CD in 2 yrs, not 4+).
    Cook just comes off so desperate and petty. This is not someone whom I would consider “gracious”. Just further indication that he has not move beyond the AI bubble.

  121. I am glad DC responded. Many have accused him of being a puppet or too nice. He needs to defend his reputation that he has worked hard for. I don’t see it as fan waring on Cooks part. This isn’t the first time Caleb has claimed to be the first rocker out of Idol. Cook played a country song, pop and then he decided to play a rock song, he merely was indicating he was a rocker , but a versatile musican as well. Something Caleb is not.

  122. Watched the above videos. It’s not a good sign when your more interested in Guitarist Josh than Winner Caleb.

  123. If DC has actually move beyond the Idol bubble, he would not care whether he was the first Idol rocker to win. I doubt Carrie Underwood caries whether she is the first Country artist to win Idol.

  124. That pretty much sums it up nicely. lol Great advice for anyone coming out of Idol.

  125. He doesn’t care about the 1st label, lol. The issue was that he doesn’t rock. And it’s not really not much of an issue, he needed a humorous intro to a rocking cover that he usually does in concert. It fit the bill.

  126. Some random thoughts:

    I think that Caleb emphasis on being a real rocker is a way of justifying his poor sales: ‘I’s not me, it’s the genre I am in’

    I also think that anyway, to him only classic rock is rock.

    I don’t think that DC should be have even responded to Caleb, as if Caleb’s opinion would make any difference to his career.

    Caleb is useful in the way that he makes many other Idol alums look like shining stars, both in term of talent and personality.

  127. It sounds to me like Cook was just poking gentle fun at Caleb’s comments. After all, he didn’t even mention him by name at this concert, so only people who know what Caleb said are going to know what David meant. If Caleb sees or is told about this, maybe it will help give him a clue and he’ll stop making ridiculous comments like the ones he has been making.

  128. DC has a career? No snark or sarcasm intended. Cook “rock” cred and career have been nonstarters. Caleb is destined to be a never was. Doesn’t really matter now, as both are destined for obscurity and “Whatever Happened To? ville… Cook should never have given Caleb the Clown the time of day or a response. When you care what Caleb Johnson has to say about you or your music… game over.

  129. Think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s not like David gave an interview with that Yahoo lady calling Caleb out. He appeared to be actually having a good laugh over it, as if to point out how silly it is. And as you, yourself, point out, David has been unfailingly diplomatic and polite — sometimes over and beyond polite — for over 5 years in the face of some people calling him not a rocker, not rock enough, not as rock as this guy or that girl. Honestly, if he — one time — makes a joke out of it while introducing a rock cover he does in his show, well I’d say: it’s about time. We all knew David has a sense of humor, but who knew David was human and not a saint who never, ever, ever responds to a single solitary slight, even the rather funny ones!

    And what’s so funny to me is that this response is a mirror image to a response David gave while he was a contestant on Idol when people were complaining that he wasn’t as good a singer as some others that season and was relying too much on his guitar. The next week David sings Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night — straight, without guitar — quite successfully and he turns to the camera in one of Idol’s little contestant segments and says, “See! I can do that too!”

  130. I think your point about how narrow the themes were in Season 7. But I think Caleb probably could have found a nice rock song in the Andrew Lloyd Webber category. After all, both Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita are rock operas.

    I’m betting Caleb would have gone for “Gesthemane.”

  131. “It sounds to me like Cook was just poking gentle fun at Caleb’s comments”

    That’s logical, girlygirl, because it is certainly consistent with the words, actions and observable attitudes that DC has demonstrated over the past six years, including the smart a$$ angle. Certainly more in keeping with his demonstrated personality than some of the random ‘projections’ being offered, IMO.

    He only seems to react visibly to public nonsense when someone tries to ‘put him in a box’ – to use his own words..(Visible even on Idol – ALW Week) and the quote from the video is clearly about the whole band – not just himself:

    “I would like to think that we are not any one thing. Cause we can play this – (Demonstrates a snippet on guitar, and the band immediately picks up and follows)- that’s the only part of that song I know – but we can play that! [Audience laughs] But we can also play the entire part of this next song. Mr. Nick Adams, if you will.” (Nick starts the downbeat for the Zeppelin Medley.)

    so, based on facts in evidence, I think that’s a logical conclusion you came to. And that’s Just MY Opinion.

  132. I totally agree that just a “mention” about playing with KISS means nothing. In fact that mention was probably more about KISS being on Idol than Caleb, since no rock sites covered his Idol journey or his recent album release.

    It was just to point out that Caleb, nor David unfortunately, is covered much (or at all) by actual rock media/press.

    (For the record, Caleb will never, I believe, come close to what David has accomplished.)

  133. Exactly, Sassycatz.

    this response is a mirror image to a response David gave while he was a contestant on Idol…. “See! I can do that too!”

    With a six year pattern of being diplomatic, polite – and a bit of a smart a$$ – why would he suddenly change? For this? Makes no sense to me.

    But he won’t stay in anyone’s box…also demonstrated.


  134. If playing sold out venues (regardless of the size), writing and recording your own music (and having the respect of some well established song writers), and making a living doing it is not a career, I don’t know what is. You don’t need to be in the tabloids or on the front page every day to have a career. DC has said from the beginning that he was a song writer first and performer second. Guess he’s happy with making a living the way HE wants.

  135. All you mentioned would be lucky to have the careers of Kelly or Carrie also. Guess it’s a matter of perspective.

  136. “I’m betting Caleb would have gone for “Gesthemane.”

    Your hypothetical could be right – I believe that’s the song that Michael Johns had chosen for ALW Week, before he was eliminated – and many people on the discussion boards expected DC to do it – and they expected him to cut it to fit the minute and a half and rock it out.

    . So he went in a completely unexpected direction – to show that he could “do that too”. Because there was also strategy involved in choosing the songs – and different expectations of the contestants six years ago. To be “Versatile Vocally” was necessary, to stand out in that cast.

    Such different seasons. IMO.

  137. Wasn’t Cook’s comment only some mic chatter at his concert…it wasn’t an interview or a tweet or a facebook post. I don’t think it was Cook “taking on” silly Caleb as it was a nice segue into his “rock” song. Just the take I have.

    Caleb is an interesting dude. The brains of a 10 year old, the knowledge of the uninformed, the finesse of an elephant, and the interviewee skills of your basic small town over his head red neck. I bet all the worsters are crying out with glee.

  138. Two wrongs don’t make it a right. This is Jr High School he said, she said nonsense. David Cook should have taken the high road, ignore it. Now, it just gives Caleb more attention.

  139. Cook was rocking hard well before and after Idol, and he continues to do so today. End of story.

    Which isn’t really a story, as much as it’s YET ANOTHER instance when Johnson opened his mouth and displayed his ignorance YET AGAIN.

  140. Hay Caleb. If you are going to say someone isn’t ‘real rock’ you may want to get your facts straight first. David Cook has done Zeppelin, Nine Inch Nails, Van Halen and more for years.

  141. David Cook = CLASS! Love that he didn’t mention any names. lol Yea, he’s sweating over this. Heee Heeee

  142. Loved this post. David is human. Who woulda thought? HA! And FTR, what’s wrong with a little bit of defending yourself. When done with class and humor it’s all cool for me.

  143. And when all is said and done having rock cred and/or being featured on rock blogs doesnt pay the bills or equate to success. A year from now (or after he’s dropped) Caleb wont even care about whether he was Idols first rocker or being talked about, he’ll probably be trying to figure what to do next and wish he had even 1/8 of the success DC has had. David may not be known now but at least he CAN look back and be proud of his post AI win career. I’m sure many young “rockers” of today would kill for a platinum album or even a gold single. Some would probably even settle for some airplay.

  144. I absolutely agree. But being noticed by the rock community/media/press/radio is HUGE in terms of breaking new acts in rock. In addition to “rock cred” it also gets the word out to the right audience. People can’t buy your music, if they don’t know you exist.

    For instance, Octane on SiriusXM has a feature every week where they profile new and upcoming hard rock bands. I’ve discovered quite a few very good new ones that way. They recently just “broke” the hard rock band “Nothing More” this way. Their single then shot to #2 on the Active Rock radio charts almost over night. They got almost 1.5 million views of their new single too, very quickly as well.

  145. Eh. Much like Glover, while I don’t think responding (even obscurely) accomplishes anything (as neither internet commentators or Johnson are parties known for their willingness to accept evidence counter to their priors), I can understand the impulse in a few particular circumstances. And much like Glover, having done it once, it’s much better for all parties involved to move forward and not mention it again.

  146. I would actually argue that many rock bands would not find Revolver or Loudwire to be the “right audience” for their music. Arctic Monkey is a rock band. Do I Wanna Know went #1 on Alt. I would not expect to find them featured in either publication, but I would expect to find them in Stereogum or Consequence of Sound. (Not that either band in question was recently featured in either, but the Gum has mentioned Cook in the past. I don’t know about Johnson.)

  147. Cook has sold as many if not more albums than those you mentioned. And sales have decreased for all of them. Also, Cook as recently as last fall headlined a club tour, without an album, where the others either haven’t toured or are opening acts. And actually, if you are including writing, Cook has written a current top 20 hit on country. I do think all that you mentioned have a similar level of success.

    I also don’t think it’s a petty fan war when someone is spreading incorrect information about someone else.

  148. I wasn’t talking about Alt. Rock at all. I mentioned those sites and Octane because they are premier sites for Hard Rock which Caleb claims to be and which was really the “heart” of the whole matter, who rocked the hardest. lol.

    FWIW, I think the whole issue is stupid and any rocker should be happy when any rock site covers them or their music.

  149. A career in music involves writing and recording music and touring, and making one’s living doing so. So David Cook definately qualifies.

  150. We basically agree. But even taking him at face value, the blues-influenced stuff that he does would, IMO, be more likely to get coverage in the more alt-leaning blogs than the active-leaning ones.

    But yes, anyone should be happy with any coverage. And Johnson isn’t likely to get any, other than as a footnote.

  151. Hi, just in the interest of facts…David Nail’s song (that Cook co-wrote) is #30 right now. I don’t doubt that the song will reach 20 plus, but it isn’t there now.

  152. Maybe I didn’t read into it enough, I just thought it was funny. He’s snarky at times, didn’t see it as some pissing over the piss on the tree to start a pissing contest thing.

  153. That’s what I got out of it. Snarky banter leading into his song.

  154. David has had the career they have had. Try checking your facts. get over yourself. He did encourage any fanwars. Looks like your boy Caleb you failed to do your research.

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