David Cook on his sophomore CD: Massive choruses, mile-long catwalks, and...Dolly Parton?

David Cook is a busy, busy bee, but one who’s not going to be rushed. The American Idol season 7 champ has been working since January on writing and recording songs for his sophomore album, and while he’s well aware that an Idol results-night performance slot would be the perfect launching pad for a new single, he’s nevertheless more concerned with quality than cross-promotional synergy. We caught up by phone with Cook as he did interviews to promote his work on Idol Gives Back (set to air April 21 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox), and while we’ll cover details of his recent trip to Ethiopia in an upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly and in a subsequent blog post, we didn’t want to wait to share scoop on what he’s been up to in the studio, and who he’s been doing it with. Read on!

Is there a possibility you’ll be debuting a single on Idol before the season is over?
Well, we’re working on it, and it’s definitely something I’m cognizant of. I would love to be able to debut a single on Idol this year. But at the same time we certainly don’t want to rush anything. Rest assured, we’re trying very, very hard. I can give a definite maybe at this point.

Is it better than a 50-50 chance?
It really is a coin flip right now. I would say no, it’s not better than 50-50, but it’s not worse than that either.

Any new collaborators you’ve worked with since our last chat in February? Any flights of fancy you’ve gone on for the new album? Last time we spoke you had mentioned wanting to do a song that’s all vocals, no instruments.
I’ve been so busy traveling lately that we haven’t gotten to really delve into that too much. In reference to the all-vocals idea, I’ve got one or two songs in the till right now that could work in that direction, but the demos, as such, are instrumental. As for new collaborators, I got a chance to work with Matt Squire (Good Charlotte, 3OH!3) a little bit. Wrote a song with him and Claude Kelly called “Four-Letter Word” that I’m really excited about.

Is that a romantic song or an angry song? That title could go either way.
It’s actually a little bit of both. So it’s an angry love song. [Laughs.]

And who else have you hit the studio with of late?
I actually worked on a few songs now with a couple guys from the UK: Jim Irvin and Julian Emery. We did a song called “Paper Heart” and one called “We Believe.” And we just finished a song yesterday called “Alibi.”

How would you describe the music you’re making with them?
The choruses on all those songs are massive. They’re just massive choruses. And I will say they have pushed me vocally on these demos more than probably anybody else has. I’m definitely hitting high register on the choruses. The choruses are very open, very U2-esque, and the vocals are just up there, which pushes the intensity of them a little bit.

Was this a deliberate goal of yours?
My goal at the beginning of this was that I wanted to make a record that really, really pushed the concept of dynamic. Really pushed the interplay between loud and soft, the slow and the fast. And to make a record that catered more to the live show, and that had a versatility. To make a record that could be played at a coffee shop with an acoustic guitar, or that could be played with a mile-long catwalk in the middle of Madison Square Garden. I wanted to try to work on the interplay of opposites, I suppose.

And by “played in a coffee shop,” you mean “perform on Idolatry,” yes?
Exactly! [Laughs.] Don’t let anybody fool you, American public. Idolatry does have a 200-foot catwalk.

Totally. Any planned collaborators you’re hoping to work with before it’s all said and done?
I’m actually leaving for Nashville next week. I’m gonna write with Zac Maloy, the guy who I wrote “Lie” and “Life on the Moon” with for the last record, and he also wrote “Come Back to Me.” And then I think we’re talking about Ryan Tedder the end of this month or early next month.

I think you should write with Dolly Parton when you’re in Nashville. I still love your cover of “Little Sparrow” from the week she mentored on Idol. How genius would that be?
You know, I’m not opposed. [Laughs.] We’ll throw you a five-percent songwriter’s credit or something if it works out.

(To get all my Idol-related scoop, follow me on Twitter @EWMichael Slezak; and if you love all kinds of music — who doesn’t? — follow @EWMusicMix, too!)

Below, check out our Idolatry interview with Mr. Cook from February 2010:

Comments (196 total) Add your comment
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  • Vanessa

    Thank you, Michael! Short, but totally sweet. I’m actually really excited for David to work with Ryan Tedder, & super excited that he’s writing with Zac Maloy again.

    • jay

      When he says “We’re working very hard”, he means all his song writers and producers are working very hard.

      • katiecooktime

        No, Jay, he means HE is working hard. If you followed him at all you would know that he’s the hardest working guy (I’ve ever known about) in show biz. And one of the things I admire about him is that he always had a job or 2 or 3 even when he was playing sports and playing in his bands. And he had some crappy jobs. I think it’s what makes him so appreciative and hard working. He doesn’t expect to have anything handed to him and has worked even harder since Idol. Now, whether or not his label is doing squat is another question. And I’m not sure a producer has been named. But on the good side of your comment, I assume you spelled your own name right.

      • Joanna

        Uh oh…Jay sounds a little catty. Meow!

      • Laura

        Cook had like 10 co-writes on his first post IA album alone so why would he have any less on this album? He’s a talented songwriter in his own right which anyone can hear if they listen to Analog Heart.

      • Lenny

        I believe Jay. He’s probably in the music business and knows what’s going on with 19 Entertainment’s artists in general.

        Listen to the original Sold and Spun Again on youtube (which became Bar-Ba-Sol when David recorded it). 19 Entertainment must have bought a songwriting credit from the original songwriters in exchange for the right to let David record it. David only changed the title and a few words – not enough to qualify for a songwriting credit.

        David may have too much personal integrity to buy a songwriting credit for a song that was already written, recorded and released long before he wanted to record it, but 19 Entertainment has no scruples. It was probably the only way David 19 would consent to let David have the song, since they make more money on songs he gets songwriting credit for.

        I don’t know if it’s 19’s fault or David’s fault, but it’s somebody’s fault.

        Before anyone thinks they have a right to refute this, please go listen to the original.

      • lauren

        I believe David Cook when he says he’s flying all over the world to write WITH various people. If this were a case of tweaking a song written mostly by someone else, why fly to Vancouver, England, Sweden, etc? Not to mention some of his collaborators have invited him to perform with them in concert (Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra, Raine Maida of OLP). As for Bar Ba Sol/Spun Again, David Cook was actually a fan of the band Injected and personally jumpstarted the negotiations that resulted in Bar Ba Sol’s inclusion on his record. He’s also always been very up front about the process that ensued (he contacted the band and asked if he could have a go at that song, tweaked it a little, and it ended up on the record, etc) and has given Injected major props in every interview wherein Bar Ba Sol has come up.

      • Carly

        I have to laugh at the effort to convince that David Cook is not a songwriter when there is ample evidence to the contrary. Like, oh, three albums with Axium with writing credit, a solo album that he wrote AND produced and is just as compelling as his work with cowriters, at least three songs that have debuted post-AI during his tour that he wrote himself with no cowriting credits, one of which is on his major label debut. You can say what you want about his music (which I happen to enjoy) but accusing him of not creating it himself is laughable.

      • therealmanonica

        Where do people come off spouting diatribes sans ANY knowledge on the existing issue? The fact that David Cook re-released Injected’s “Spun Again (Barbasol)” after changing its title (he dropped “Spun Again” altogether & spelt “Bar-ba-sol” as such, probably to avoid any copyright hoopla) & tweaking its lyrics a bit – ALL with the blessings of a band he has nothing but kind words for – was that supposed to be a sordid secret that has just been unraveled here, today, on the comments section of another one of Slezak’s always-insightful DC articles? (Clearly, I’m not a Slezak fan, no?) Lest we forget, that little-known, yet kickass band from Georgia, also benefited from this so-called “unscrupulous” arrangement (financially AND professionally). No, it’s neither Cook’s nor 19’s fault. It’s YOURS, Lenny, because you’re trying to find fault when there shouldn’t be.

      • therealmanonica

        Erratum: I meant… It’s YOURS, Lenny, because you’re trying to find fault when YOU shouldn’t. (How about a nifty ‘edit’ button over here, Slezak?)

      • Cimorene

        Lenny, I actually have listened to the various versions of Bar-Ba-Sol/Sold and Spun Again — and when I say versions, I mean both the live and recorded versions of both Cook’s and Injected’s versions. In point of fact, Cook added significantly more to the song than just a few lyrical changes. There are a number of guitar parts, written as countermelodies/harmonies, that Cook added to his versions that did not exist in the prior Injected performances. I invite you to take a look at my take on the song at Cook’s official site — I have compiled a blog detailing what Cook does, musically, to songs to change them (either when he covers existing songs, or performs them live as they often differ significantly from the recorded versions, or tweaks a song, as he did with Bar-Ba-Sol). The blog is at http://www.davidcookofficial.com/us/blog/deconstruction-archive, and the section on the song in question is towards the end. Feel free to respond here or there — I’d love to have an informed discussion about this.

        (As for Jay’s comment, I’m curious why he thinks RCA is footing the bill for flying Cook all over the world to write if all he’s going to do is get a vanity credit to some songs by adding some words here and there. Recording companies, as I’m sure we all know, are all about the bottom line. My feeling is that they have enough faith in Cook’s songwriting abilities to expect a rather large return on their investment in him if he’s heavily involved in the songwriting process. Am I wrong?)

      • Cimorene

        Whoops, forgot to thank Michael for the interview! As usual, Mr. Slezak, we can count on you for asking insightful questions and getting informative responses. So… thanks! It’s much appreciated. :)

    • Archie

      Cook is boring, boring, boring!! Lousy music. Archie will be in for the long haul. Archie has a younger fanbase. Cook’s fanbase is made of 60 plus year old women who show up at all his concerts. When they pass away soon he’ll have no more fans.

      • Amber

        I’m 16, and plan on being a Cook fan for life.

      • Ronnie

        Nobody care about Archie anymore. All the tweens are into Justin Bieber. Then they will drop him and go after someone else. Archie had some success but his album never went platinum & he only had one hit. I know tons of “grandmas” that are Archie fans too. I doubt Archie will draw a “college” crowd at any of his concerts.

        You Archie fans really need to move on & accept that neither Cook nor Archie are competing & have totally different styles.

      • Barb

        If Cook is so boring, why did he win AI? Oh that’s right, because he rocked the stage and had a waaay bigger fanbase than Archie! Cook’s fanbase is made up of all age groups. You have Amber on here that’s 16, I’m 23 and I know he’s got 30+ year-old fans…aka Cougars! I agree with Ronnie that the tweens are into Justin Bieber and then when the next ‘big’ thing comes along, they’ll be into him/her. They do sing different styles of music.

        I will be a Cook fan for life and can’t wait for new music and album from him.

      • Bill

        Wow, what a stupid comment !

      • Archie

        Sure Barb, sure Amber. Yeah, right you’re 16 and I’m the president of the United States. Now 16 year old would love a balding, thin lipped, slit eyed ugly toad like Cook. Ewwww….he’s so ugly!! No 16 likes that kind of music. You’re another one of those 60 year olds from the retirment home pretending to like Cook. Archie is long haul. Cook is losing his hair.

      • wildchildd

        theyre both very talented but we ALL (and by all i mean ALL) know David Cook is far more talented:]

      • josh

        hahahaha, this archie kid is probably either David A’s little kid fan (maybe around 10 years old) or just another one of his gay/homosexual fans.

    • dave

      The sophomore album can’t be any worst than the first can it? Is it even humanly possible. Time to not listen to AC stations if I have to be subjected to his horrible voice again!! He sounds like a lawn mower that needs a tuneup

      • wildchildd

        It’s Not good 2 be jealous.

  • JKM

    YAY FOR DAVID COOK SCOOP! Massive choruses, pushing dynamics, catered to the live show. YES…more of this!! :D

  • Katie

    Meh. I liked the guy on Idol, but his first album was so incredibly boring. Everything he does sounds exactly the same. I don’t think he’s capable of more. Very one-note.

    • saywhat

      Adam fans are the bitterest fans around. And don’t try to claim that you are not an Adam fan. LOL

      See, if you had said that his first Post-Idol album sucked or was generic and left it at that, well I might have bought it. But to claim that he is one-note and not capable of more (while also saying that you really liked him on Idol, where he clearly demonstrated his musicality and versatility) proves to me that you have an agenda. Nice try though.

      • Emma

        Yep, bitterest around, and most narcissistic as well.

      • GingerP

        I think you meant Archuleta, not Adam. Adam was the one who lost to Kris Allen.

      • Rebekah

        Um…saywhat, how can you assume Katie is an Adam fan? She is entitled to her opinion. And heck, since when has being an Adam fan and a David fan become mutually exclusive? I LOVE both Adam and David pretty darn equally. They were the stand-outs on their AI seasons, and they each put out respectable post-Idol albums. And yes, perhaps some Adam fans have been rude on here, but it’s not fair to judge all of his fans in general based on the vocal minority. Also, thanks for the DC scoop, Slezak!

      • LindaT

        I’m a fan of both David Cook and Adam Lambert. Does that make me only semi-bitter? :)

      • To GingerP

        Most Archie and Cook fans are fond of all of the Season 7 artists, pretty much. They were amazing, as an overall cast.

        No, she probably does mean Adam fans, who have now decided Cook is anti-Adam because he unfollowed him on twitter months ago. Silly stuff.

      • saywhat

        Let me clarify. All Adam fans are not bitter (indeed, I am an avid Adam fan – my Adam love is almost equal to my Cookie love). Most Adam fans are lovely, and many like Cook as well, HOWEVER, the bitter minority of Adam fans are the bitterest fans around. Does that make sense? It made sense in my head.

      • dontlie

        Pluhlease u are NOT an Adam fan so don’t even lie. every anti David fan does not mean Adam fan . u shldn’t even have brought up Adam’s name here but obviuosly u cldn’t resist. they are not even from the same season. & David cook has the most bitter fans ever. every time @sonymusicgobal sends out a tweet abt Adam watch their @replies, bitter David cook fans attack. really sadz. on mjsbig blog cook’s stans hate on adam even more than kris fans and they were not even in the same season. hmmm why do they feel threatened?.I wonder!

    • Marty

      Yes, because Permanent sounds SO much like Bar Ba Sol which sounds SO much like A Daily Anthem which sounds SO much like Mr. Sensitive which sounds SO much like Lie.

      And by so much, I mean whatever, you obviously have not bothered to listen to his album or you’d realize how stupid you sound.

      • Sandy

        Very well said Marty. Very well indeed. There is absolutely nothing boring about his album. I love it and I can’t wait for the second one. Oh, and don’t forget Kiss On The Neck, which sounds SO much like all the rest of it. Duh.

      • sandyd

        Agreed-Marty said it well, whoever said the it was one note, couldn’t have listened to the album-it’s such a variety for any mood…LOVE EVERY song!

        Thanks Micheal for the interview…if David doesn’t have a song ready before the end of Idol, how about strongly encouraging him to sing “LIE” unplugged with the accapella and release as a single! PLEASE IT JUST NEEDS TO GET OUT THERE-BREATHTAKING!!!!

      • @sandyd

        YES! Lie (accapella, like he sang on the C.Underwood special) is AMAZING!!!! Please, David, put it out as a single!!!!!!!!!!

      • Liz

        @Marty: yes!
        @Sandyd: I saw him in Atanta and he did that; I recorded it actually, but anyhow it was amazing.

        So excited about the next album :)

      • wildchildd

        Thank u!!!
        album rockeddd:]

    • gina acampora

      Are you tone deaf? Obviously you really don’t know music,your really a waste of time to comment on,GROW UP ,maybe one day??? GOOD LUCK with that!! K_aaatie!

    • TK

      Wow. I am a huge Adam Lambert fan and I am also a huge David Cook fan. These two guys respect each other, why not their fans. This is a Kris vs Adam thing all over again. I will say that some Adam fans do get defensive when someone attacks Adam, well heck can YOU say that this isn’t happening here? While I disagree with Katie about the “boring” part of DC’s first CD, I wouldn’t assume she was an Adam fan for thinking that. How stupid is that? Anyone can state how they feel about any one artist but I sure wouldn’t label them as a fan of another for doing so, that is just plain ignorant.

      • wildchildd

        I love Adam, David, AND Kris.
        Something wrong with that?

  • Ashley

    I loved him on American Idol and I loved his first album (Permanent, Barbasol, Lie), so I’ll definately be buying this one!

  • D

    Great interview! Looking forward to David’s second album. And personally, I am glad he is taking his time. No need to rush, make the album he really wants to make that says what he wants to say musically. And yeah, huge choruses in his high register – yes please.

    • Amber

      Agreed! I really think that it will be a step up from the last record, and will be EPIC!! Which is great, that was really what I was hoping for in this next one.

  • Lauren

    Thank you Slezak for posting this! I love Mr. Cook and can not wait for his next cd or that Idolatry catwalk performance:)

  • Jason

    Liked his first album, especially that song “Heroes” that always shows up on Sports shows. Hoping for some good rock like that “Bar-ba-sol”. U2esque sounds good to me. Looking forward to it!

  • Karen

    Slezak, we love ya for asking David relevant questions and (wait for it) actually responding to what he said in the followups!

    • Rebekah

      Good point, Karen. I love that Slezak remembers the people he’s interviewed and asks great follow-up questions.

    • harley quinn

      Ditto. Slezak/Cook interviews are always a good read. Can’t wait for album number two (and especially Four-Letter Word.)

      • Jack

        They’re really a good read if you’re David Cook, eh?

      • JackSquat

        They’re also a good read if you like musicians who are talented, articulate and funny being interviewed by true music fans who know how to ask intelligent, interesting questions.

  • Amber

    Yay! So glad to finally see the “scoop” we’ve been anxiously waiting for. Did you like our flattery, Michael Slezak? Anyway, great interview and we are very much looking forward to David Cook’s singing some of his songs form Idolatry’s 200 foot catwalk soon. I am very excited that progress is being made. Woo hoo!

  • carole

    I love this!! I am so excited to hear David in full control! I applaud his attitude with regard to not releasing any new “Kid” until he feels it… even at the risk of loosing that opportunity on American Idol! David Cook knows what he wants, who he is…. and has the patience and endurance to do “DCTR2″ his way! He is definately wearing that AI Crown… ya know the one he “owns”! Thank you Michael for this interview… my day is made! ~ Carole ~ NYC

  • SP

    I love DC and cannot wait to hear what he’s been working on!

  • Sue

    Great interview thank you. It sounds like the album is coming along.

  • Olivia

    Thanks for the interview Slezak…you’re the consummate Idol interviewer as far as I’m concerned. :)

    Really looking forward to David’s next record, love the way he’s been describing it so far. (Insert release date here) can’t come soon enough. :)

  • Melissa

    This makes me really excited to hear the new record. PATIENCE

  • Robert

    Thanks for sharing the scoop Michael. Looking forward to Cook’s album.

    • Sally wolf

      David your are expanding, but staying true to yourself. I love you David, nd voted for you on Idol, and I’m excited to see that you are staying true to yourself. Keep on keepin on lol[:

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