“I’m nervous as it is, thinking, ‘She’s Diane Warren!'” says the season 11 American Idol alum. “She sits down and says, ‘Who are you?’ She’s very nice. And I say, ‘I’m Josh. I love your song, the one you wrote for Titanic.’ And she says, ‘I didn’t write that song.'”
Ledet isn’t the first person to insert foot in mouth when it comes to Diane Warren and that big hit from Titanic sung by Celine Dion; “My Heart Will Go On” was written by James Horner and Will Jennings. Warren wrote that other massive Celine Dion hit from a film:”Because You Loved Me” from Up Close and Personal.
So why was Ledet meeting Warren? It all goes back to 2013, when Ledet was riding in a car with another finalist from his season, Jessica Sanchez. They were listening to tracks she had recorded for an album, and one of the songs was a Diane Warren composition, “Trust Me I Lie,” previously cut by Nicole Scherzinger. “I told Jessica it was an amazing song: ‘You have to put it on your album,'” says Ledet. “And she said, ‘I don’t know.’ I think it was one of those things where you record a song and you listen to yourself over and over and you start not to like it. The process for her album took so long, she had a lot of time to just keep listening. Eventually you think, ‘OK, I don’t want this song.'”
Ledet’s reaction? “Great. Give it to me. I want it.” He explains to Billboard: “The lyrics are so tricky, saying, ‘Trust me, I lie.’ You’re asking someone to trust you because you’re telling a lie. It’s strange. But it all ties in. It’s an amazing message. Beautiful. The changes and melodies are out of this world.”
About a year after hearing the song in the car with Sanchez, Ledet signed with a new manager, industry veteran Brian Avnet. “I told him I loved this song so much and I wanted to record it, so he called up Diane and asked her.”
Despite his Titanic gaffe, Ledet went ahead and told Warren he wanted to record “Trust Me I Lie.” She said yes. “So I recorded it and she loved the song. She was really ecstatic.” Ledet went into the studio with producer Humberto Gatica, who has worked with Dion, Josh Groban and Chaka Khan, among many others, including Idol alums Katharine McPhee, Clay Aiken and Diana DeGarmo. “He takes his time with each session and when you feel like, ‘I can’t do anymore,’ he pulls the best vocals out of you. It’s amazing, the way he does it,” says Ledet.
The single is being released in the wake of Ledet’s return to American Idol for the series finale — an event that gave him pause. “It’s been so many years since I’ve been on a stage that big, and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I still have it.’ I talked with my mom, and she said, ‘This is what you were born to do, so you need to just get yourself together and prepare.’ It was rough being on Idol, being just 19 and not knowing anything about the business or Hollywood. Your life changes overnight and I didn’t know if I was ready for this all over again. Because this one time could change your life all over again. Going back was amazing. I’m glad I did it. The show helped me in so many ways. Opportunities have been coming. It’s definitely a boost to my career. It gave me that extra kick I needed.”
Ledet says the energy at the series finale was “amazing. I didn’t know half of the Idols, but it was like everyone was family. Everyone was embracing. Everyone was nice and there were no egos. Everyone was there for one reason, and that was to finish off a great legacy. American Idol has changed so many lives in so many ways. I was talking to a friend the other day and she said, ‘I wasn’t even a contestant. I just watched it and it changed my life.’ I’ve never heard anyone say that, but think of all the people in the world, and that’s just one person saying that. Think how many people it actually has helped and changed. It’s great to be a part of that.”