David Cook's 'Light On': Resistance is futile!

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.

David Cook discussing his "cougar" following.
Chris Cornell responding to David Cook’s cover of his version of "Billie Jean."
Jordin Sparks defending her "promise ring" comments at this year’s VMAs.
The 10 Worst Idol performances ever.

Comments (987 total) Add your comment
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  • Bob Corum

    I would suck David Cook’s balls off.

    • jehosephat

      Would someone please remove that comment? Why do we have to look at it after reading a thoughtful article? Please. Thanks.

  • Gwen

    I know this will be a major hit.
    I still can’t get that chorus out of my head, and that’s because I’ve been streaming JHud’s new album all day. Yet, there it is: “Try to leave the LIGHT on when I’m GONE…” Yeah, it’s those stubborn ones that make th hits.
    This is perfect for getting him noticed by the non-Idol crowd. Yes, there are such people.
    Personally though, I’m itching to hear the entire album.

  • Dennis N.

    Ironically, before I read the first comment, I was going to applaud the recent trend of PopWatch bloggers reminding their commenters to be civil. Maybe one day, Slezak. Speaking of civil, mucho kudos to your treatment of the Clay Aiken “revelation.” It was honest and penetrating without becoming an O’Donnell-esque View-rant. It should serve as a primer for those who tend to comment with vendettas.

  • my opinion only

    It does seem like it will hit, though I HATE these Staid/Hinder/Nickelback type songs with a passion. That stupid chorus did stick with me too. Not buying this song but I will give his album a listen when it comes out. I like the guy.

  • Winona

    Love it.

  • Galaxywordnerd

    I am enraptured by this. I don’t “listen” to it, I experience it on a very viceral level.
    My 3 and 7 year old love it, my 60 year old mother loves it, my husband ranks it right up there with music from Classic Rock Bands like Led Zepplin.
    I see nothing but Platnium and Grammy written all over Mr. Cook and Light On!!

  • Dina

    It’s trite and hard on the ears and that’s being charitable.

  • Dennis N.

    Also, it’d be great it Cook’s image team didn’t completely transform him into Boy George (see YouTube vid intro pic). Although his eyebrows are a follicular force with which to be reckoned.

  • gotblues

    Eh, not impressed. I’m surprised how badly Cook oversings this one. It sounds like what it is: a song Chris Cornell rejected because it had that tragic yet corny vibe that all those Nickelback and Daughtry songs do.

  • Em

    It reminds me of 1989.

  • Nicole

    I think it’s fantastic. Is it the greatest song of all time? Probably not, but it has become my favorite song, and I cannot stop listening to it. It’s positively addictive. And yes, it will be a hit–and as such, I think this was the perfect song to introduce David to the post-Idol crowd. I don’t think every song on his album will sound like this one… but I do think this will generate plenty of interest in his album.
    Well done, David. You’ve done us proud.

  • Minutiae

    I like it as far as pop-rock songs go. Unfortunately, if you’re going to get airplay on rock radio these days, you have to either sound like Nickelback or be completely heavy, like Slipknot or SOAD, so I totally understand why he went this direction for his first single. It has “crossover” written all over it. As for the song being a Chris Cornell reject, well, judging by the lame trip-hop crap he has so far been streaming on his MySpace from his forthcoming album, I’ll take “Light On” anyday.

  • Friday

    This song has been stuck in my head since I heard it yesterday, and I really don’t mind. I love the kinda old fashioned 80s rock feel to it. I can’t wait to hear the whole album.

  • Leigh

    I don’t know if Cornell rejected it but I do know Cornell wrote it. I think it will do very well on radio for a first single. I just want to hear how it fits in with the rest of his record.
    I, for one, don’t want a recording of Always Be My Baby. I already have one.

  • meredith

    love it! i also agree about the 2:50 mark. his voice sounds amazing there and i hope he uses that gravelly-ness throughout his album….which i can’t wait to hear the rest of!

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