In just a few short months, David Cook went from no-name aspiring singer/songwriter to household-name “American Idol” winner. He went from zero chart ink to having a whopping 11 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at once, the highest since the Beatles charted 14 in 1964. It’s an astonishing feat that still leaves the season seven champ at a loss for words.
Now Cook and the team at 19 Recordings/RCA are trying to keep the momentum going with the artist’s self-titled debut, due this week. On “Idol,” he received rave reviews and millions of votes for his hard rock makeovers of pop songs like Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Some controversy arose as to where the arrangements came from, particularly concerning his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” which was based on a version done by Chris Cornell, but it didn’t deter fans from crowning him the winner.
With the covers game out of the way, Cook says he wants this new record to be a reintroduction of sorts to his fans. “I came from a background of playing original music,” he says, “and I really wanted to get back to that.”
Cook and producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock) started recording in late June, with Cook frequently hitting the studio during downtime from the 53-date summer American Idols Live tour. A host of rock veterans lent a hand with the songwriting, including Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik, Cook’s longtime idol Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace and, oddly enough, Cornell, who co-wrote first single “Light On” with Brian Howes.
“We were able to pull together what I think to be a very accurate representation of who I am musically within a three-month period, which is kind of hard to do,” Cook says of the quick turnaround time. The sound he was going for was an “eclectic rock” record, with “rhythmic songs, heavier tracks and sparse instrumentation.”