It’s no secret that I thought America Idol voters did the right thing by handing the season 7 crown to David Cook last May. After all, I reasoned at the time, the show needed a champ who’d be ready from Day One to lead the Billboard charts, and remind the nation of the show’s pop-cultural relevance at a time when its star-making power and ratings mojo were both being question.
Well, based on Cook’s debut single*, "Light On," a straight-up-the-middle midtempo rocker, the dude is poised to be part of a balanced, mainstream rock diet alongside artists like 3 Doors Down, Nickelback, and Staind. Cook’s got the genre’s appropriately earnest, slightly tormented delivery down pat, although if I’m being honest, my favorite part of the vocal actually arrives at the 2:50 mark, when he reins in the growl for a minute and shows off the beautiful tone that…ugh, never mind, I’m starting to sound like Paula. Anyhow, while this musical genre is admittedly not a staple of my iPod, it’s hard to deny the hook concocted by A-list co-writer Chris Cornell and Brian Howes. After two listens, the "Light On" chorus got caught in my head like butter in the crannies of an English muffin.
Which isn’t to say the track is perfect. The lyrics, about a guy who’s hitting the road and leaving a loved one behind, feel more like a logjam of carefully focus-grouped words than anything deeply meaningful. The bridge is bombastic almost to the breaking point (of Cook’s vocal). And a little part of me — the part that grew up listening to my sisters blast "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" and "Born on the Bayou" and "Lola" on the record player — wishes some of today’s rocker dudes realized that not everything needs to be so unrelentingly serious. (As Lexi Featherston once said, "Whatever happened to FUN?")But the bottom line is: "Light On" is probably going to be a major hit. And if Cook does the right thing and records a cover of Mariah Carey’s "Always Be My Baby," I may not be able to resist the urge to download his disc when it drops in November.
What do you think of "Light On"? And how about it’s commercial prospects? Let’s hear it in the comments section below, and — here’s an idea, fellow Idol addicts — let’s keep the conversation civilized!
* I will not acknowledge the winning Idol single foisted on Mr. Cook by the pabulum-loving folks at 19 Entertainment.
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