American Idol Season 7 winner, David Cook, did his homework and mentored the Top 8 contestants last night. From a round up of interviews with major media, the singer talks about coming home to Idol to “Pay it Forward,” and his next album.
After his mentoring session on Monday night, the American Idol winner headed back to Nashville to get back to work on the record, which does not have a release date yet.
On the future of American Idol, “If you can solidify the judging panel and allow that attention [on the judges’ lineup] to run its course, then the focus will be on these contestants. Because where Idol really hit critical mass was when people like Kelly and Clay and Carrie and Daughtry came off the show and were able to have industry success post-Idol,” argues Cook. “That gives exponential relevance to the show itself.”
On helping the new crop of Idols, “I pushed the contestants and hopefully they got something out of it. I did my homework and watched their prior performances. There’s a lot of talent this season. I wanted to help them hone that talent.”
On inspiring the contestants to take risks, “Alex seems to be doing it a little bit. I kind of understood J.Lo’s critique of [his “Every Breath You Take” cover] last night, but it’s a weird conflict to tell somebody to make the song their own and then not get into them making the song their own. It is the inherit risk. I suppose it’s never too late to try something. I mean, worst case scenario you’re going to go home — which depending on your outlook, could be the worst thing in the world or be the beginning of something else. For me, I just tried to do things that got me excited, because if you go on stage and you’re not into your song and you’re kind of like “I can’t wait to get through this,” that’s going to show. Maybe they’re just not enjoying every song they’re doing. I don’t know what it is because everybody [in the Top 8] seemed to have at least a sense of their musical identity. So, maybe it [comes down to] just doubling down on that.”
On Working the Cameras – “I gave them the same advice that was given to me by Debra Byrd, one of the vocal coaches on my season of Idol. Byrd was great. I remember it was the 3rd week of semis, the top 16 I think, the week I did “Hello”, and the first two weeks the judges didn’t seem too interested in whatever I was selling. Byrd kind of pulled me aside when we were working on the song and said, “You got the personality and space, and you got the voice. You’re just not connecting.” She told me to go home, read the lyrics, have a bottle of wine and just sit on your patio and find a way to internalize the song and when you’re singing, find your pockets and look through the camera, look through the lens to everyone at home. And I took that stuff to heart and I did it, and when I got the reviews for “Hello”, is it working, should I keep going? It was really kind of the beginning for me with Idol. Those two pieces of advice from Byrd. I was so happy I was able to pay it forward and it seemed that there were at least one or two who really took the advice to heart. I didn’t see anything that really fell apart, I think everyone improved. As the elder’s statesman at this point, it made me proud.”
On co-writing David Nail’s single, Kiss You Tonight, “It was my third write, once I moved to town,” says Cook, who penned Kiss You Tonight with Jay Knowles and Trent Summar. “That song just snowballed. David put it on hold, and it was that way for a few months. Then it was going to go on the record, and it was that way for a few months. Then the single thing happened super-quick. It has opened some doors to doing more, which is great.”
How’s the new record going? “I’d say we’re 70% there, which is probably optimistic. We’re probably 60% of the way there. [Laughs] But we have 18 songs. We’re going to try and narrow it down to 12 for the finished product and then find the right avenue for releasing this one. I’ve really doubled down on just enjoying making music. With the last record, the headspace was different. Personally and professionally it was just different. This time around, I want to have fun, I want to try new things and expand — which is the goal with every record. I feel like I’m heading down the right path.”
How the new record differs from his previous work, “In a nutshell, there’s more piano, there’s more synth, guitars are still there. I feel like the voice is still there, but it’s a little more outside of what I think people perceive my element to be. That’s a big nutshell, I understand. [Laughs]”
On enjoying the process of making records, “I’m trying to expand and enjoy the process of musical experimentation. Just really wanting to enjoy this record and treat it as though … every record might be my last, so I really want to enjoy this process. Hopefully that comes through in the final product.”