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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: David Cook

Kelly Clarkson comes home to 'American Idol'

March 10, 2009 | 12:58 pm

The lucky 13 "American Idol" contenders who made it through to tonight's live show would do well to take a few minutes out of their hectic day and listen to Season 1 champ Kelly Clarkson as she rehearses for her appearance. After all, she is the prime example of how to handle the sudden success that can come with appearing on this TV talent contest.


Tonight, Kelly Clarkson will be belting out her smash hit "My Life Would Suck Without You." Back in January, that single broke the Billboard record as it jumped from  No. 97 to the top spot in just one week. It was the first cut off her new album, "All I Ever Wanted," which is out today. And while this is only her fourth album, it is being touted as her comeback.

After being crowned the first "American Idol" winner back in the summer of 2002,  Clarkson's debut disc "Thankful" went double platinum but met with only moderate critical approval. Her sophomore effort — "Breakaway" — was her breakthrough, selling 6 million copies and winning her Grammys in 2006 for best female pop vocal performance ("Since U Been Gone") and pop album. However, third time was not the charm as her introspective 2007 release "My December" barely went platinum and failed to impress the critics as well.

With this new album, Clarkson is said to have hit her stride once more. Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times called the disc "a masterful rapprochement with the mainstream, full of cheerfully ear-snagging tunes, inventive production, exhilarating vocals and enough inherent Kelly-ness to put aside fears that her label bosses implanted blond electrodes in her brain to make her behave." And Leah Greenblat of Entertainment Weekly found, "the introspection Clarkson favored so heavily on 'December' is still there; now, though, she has perspective." However, there were those reviewers who were disappointed like Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune, who bemoaned that this album, "allows no room for the down-to-earth voice that Clarkson brings to her blog entries, the plainspoken charm she evinces in her concerts. She deserves better."

Among the other "American Idol" alumni, Season 4 champ Carrie Underwood has hauled home the most music awards hardware. She won the 2007 Grammy as best new artist and another for female country vocal performance ("Jesus, Take the Wheel") and she repeated in that category in both 2008 ("Before He Cheats") and 2009 ("Last Name").  Underwood has also won five American Music Awards, five Country Music Assn. Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and six CMTs.

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David Archuleta vs. David Cook: Who'll win the most showbiz awards?

November 22, 2008 |  2:18 pm

Sure, David Cook beat David Archuleta on "American Idol," but now they enter their next arena, battling over music sales and critics' huzzahs as their debut CDs hit the market just days apart.


David Archuleta debuted in second place on the Billboard 200 chart last week behind Taylor Swift, selling 183,000 discs. According to MJ's Big Blog, that places Archuleta third in the first week of sales of second-place "American Idol" contestants, after Clay Aiken and Bo Bice, and in 10th place among all "Idol" star releases. MJ warns not to read too much into those numbers, considering that CD sales in general are down 25% this year after falling drastically the previous few years too.

Looks as if Cook will top Achuleta's numbers soundly. Industry estimates project sales of about 300,000. Currently, Cook is No. 1 on both iTunes and Amazon's music charts.

Cook's CD got better reviews from critics, but that's to be expected, frankly. Music journos tend to be macho dudes fond of raging against the kind of dreamy heartthrob ballads that Archuleta croons. At, Cook has a critics score of 67 compared with 58 for Archuleta. However, regular users of the site give Archuleta a towering score over Cook: 9.3 to 7.4.

Entertainment Weekly likes Cook's "husky, expressive vocals," while the New York Times says, "David Archuleta has a lovely, foggy R&B voice out of scale with his small body."

Looking ahead to the awards arena next: They're both nominated for American Music Awards this weekend, but, as all kudos experts know, those don't count. Let's consider the Grammys. Archuleta might have much in common with past Grammy grabbers Michael Bolton, Justin Timberlake and John Mayer. David Cook could become the next Rob Thomas.

Photo: Fox TV

Will David Cook become a Grammy darling?

November 19, 2008 | 11:09 am


If, as many music gurus say, David Cook is "American Idol's" new rock superstar, that means he's the new Chris Daughtry. That means David Cook could be nominated for four Grammys soon, just like Daughtry. Right?

Entertainment Weekly gives the new disc a B grade, adding, "If you're expecting Daughtry 2: Post-Grunge Boogaloo, well . . . you're about right. Cook is clearly built in the guy-linered mold of that earlier Idol alum, though his debut owes just as much to the expert hands that craft it, including producers Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) and Brian Howes (Hinder, Chris Cornell). They give David Cook's clutch of bombastic verse-chorus- verse rockers an impressive melodic sheen, one well suited to Cook's husky, expressive vocals."

Since Daughtry didn't win "American Idol" (he came in fourth place), Billboard declares David Cook to be "the lone rocker winner of 'Idol' to date" and says "Cook stands apart from cookie-cutter pop."

However, David Cook won't be nominated for four Grammys this year. He has just limited eligibility, as pointed out by our resident Grammy sage Darrin "DoubleD" Dortch.

"I hate to be cynical," Darrin says, "but David Cook and David Archuleta won't be anywhere near the Grammys next year — unless they buy a ticket. Their albums just came out this month so they aren't eligible. However, Cook's single, 'Lights On; and David Archuleta's single, 'Crush,' are both eligible and they have little chance of being nominated in the male pop vocal performance category. Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Michael Buble, Seal, Chris Brown, Kid Rock, Ne-Yo, Neil Diamond, Gavin DeGraw, James Taylor, Josh Groban, Paul McCartney, Lenny Kravitz, etc. will all get in before David Cook or David Archuleta."

Do you agree?

Photo: Fox TV

'American Idol' rivals David Cook and David Archuleta are most like which past award champs?

May 28, 2008 |  2:24 pm


OK, it looks like "American Idol" loser David Archuleta will rally over time and win more showbiz awards than David Cook, according to the results of our poll netting more than 14,500 votes as of today (May 28). David Archuleta leads with 52.5%; David Cook nabbed 47.5%. (Do you still want to vote? CLICK HERE!)

But what awards? I asked our forum posters to draw some parallels between these chaps and established music artists and I added a few of my own. Then I dug up the award histories of those latter stars.

In the case of David Archuleta, the big question: Is he a sweet, awe-shucks heartthrob who'll vanish fast like 1970s flash-in-the-pan Bobby Sherman, a favorite of the Tiger Beat set? Or is he a durable hottie unafraid to sing powerfully about his broken heart in schmaltzy songs that'll make him (deservedly) a superstar like John Mayer? Or, egads, could the shy 17-year-old turn out to be, as he gains confidence and swagger, the next Justin Timberlake?

David Cook shows promise as a rockin' hunk who might survive the long haul like Jon Bon Jovi or, with a bit less success, Bryan Adams. Or will he be a one-hit wonder who'll never leave the stage like faux rocker Rick Springfield (enough refrains of "Jesse's Girl" already! – it was never a great song in the first place!)? Or disappear quickly like Taylor Hicks?

Below, the award history of five music stars who may be similar to David Archuleta:

Clay Aiken – 1 American Music Award, 3 Billboard Awards
Josh Groban – No major awards. Only a few noms at Grammys, Billboard, World and American Music Awards
John Mayer – 5 Grammys, including song of the year "Daughters"; no American Music or Billboard Awards
Justin Timberlake – 6 Grammys, 3 American Music Awards, 1 Emmy
Bobby Sherman – No awards

Here's the award history of five music stars who may be similar to David Cook:

Bryan Adams – 1 Grammy (writing best song for a film, "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You")
Chris Daughtry – 3 American Music Awards; 1 People's Choice Award; lost 4 Grammy noms, including best new artist


(Fox TV, Mercury Records)

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After 'American Idol,' David Archuleta can still beat David Cook at the Grammys and beyond

May 27, 2008 |  7:25 pm

Sure, David Cook pulled off that jaw dropper over David Archuleta on "American Idol," but David Archuleta can still beat David Cook by winning more showbiz awards in the future and by having a longer career.


Some people think David Cook has an edge right now because he's more "cool" in that rocker way, but David Archuleta has a secret and maybe more powerful advantage: He's a more romantic figure. Female fans ache for him. Even crazy ole Paula Abdul admitted getting "goosebumps" when he sang those I-gotta-have-you-or-I'm-gonna-die power ballads. In short, there's an extraordinary, passionate connection between David Archuleta and female fans that's obvious to see and I'm not convinced David Cook's got the same thing going on.

David Cook might, but he's dangerously cocky — that could backfire on him. Cook is terrific at stylizing music to give tunes a hip sound, but he doesn't break hearts when he sings. He needs to do that to establish a music career that echoes on.

Consider some of the multiple winners of the Grammy Award for best pop male vocals. These guys are real heart breakers — men not afraid to weep when they sing and mean it: John Mayer, Elton John, Michael Bolton, Justin Timberlake, Frank Sinatra and Jack Jones over the years, to name just a few.

Much has been made about the similarities between Cook and past "American Idol" runner-up Chris Daughtry, who's been nominated for four Grammys. But I'm not sure that they really have that much in common beyond the gravel in their voices. Daughtry gets it. When he croons, he's admitting to a woman how worthless he is and how desperately he needs her love in order to breathe and to find his way back home. The song is more about her and how much he needs her than it is about him. Tough-guy music critics make fun of Daughtry for that, just like they also mock James Blunt and John Mayer for the same, but that's actually why those guys are so successful.

Many male singers have sex appeal and Cook may have more of that than Archuleta. Granted. But Justin Guarini and Blake Lewis had tons and didn't achieve sustained music popularity. That's not what I'm talking about because that is not what makes a successful music artist.


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David Cook rides 'American Idol' win to top of iTunes chart

May 24, 2008 | 12:32 pm


Just two days after winning Season 7 of "American Idol," David Cook sits atop the iTunes download chart. His first single, "The Time of My Life," is No. 1 while the other three songs he sang on this week's finale closely follow.

We will have to wait till at least the fall to see whether he can match this success with his first album. Cook tells  Reuters: "It'll probably be a rock record. I just want to make a record that's going to make the hair on your neck stand up. Even if it doesn't do well commercially, as long as I can put out a record I am proud of — that's the goal right now. And hopefully the success will follow."

The last rocker to be launched by "Idol" was Chris Daughtry, who came in fourth two years ago. Since then, his band Daughtry has released a self-titled album which sold over 4 million copies and netted them four Grammy nods.

To read the rest of David Cook's Reuters interview - CLICK HERE

Photo credit: Fox

After 'American Idol,' what does the future hold for David Cook and David Archuleta?

May 22, 2008 |  6:48 am

While many dim pundits like yours truly foolishly predicted that David Archuleta would beat David Cook on "American Idol," we should've paid closer attention to your views. In our Gold Derby poll reaping more than 13,000 votes yesterday, Cook trounced Archuleta by a ratio of 3 to 1, revealing a surprising groundswell of support for the 25-year-old rocker.


Even Cook thought he would be the runner-up. As he acknowledged to Entertainment Weekly, "Basing it off of the judges' comments from Tuesday, yeah, I went into tonight thinking Archie was gonna win." During that revealing post-win interview, Cook said he intended to make his voice heard during the recording of his debut album. "I have to be involved. Whether it's me writing by myself or with other people, I definitely want to have my hand in the creative process."

If Cook can carry his winning personality over to a record, sales should be even stronger than those of the last rocker to roll into the "American Idol" home stretch -– Chris Daughtry. Although Daughtry came in only fourth on Season 5 of the show, he has enjoyed great success since fronting his own rock band, including on the awards front. The group earned four 2008 Grammy nominations for its debut album ("Daughtry").

However, if Cook delivers only warmed-over, unimportant songs, his fate could be more along the lines of Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks. His post-win album was the first from a winner not to reach the 1-million sales mark and it failed to produce even one hit single. Recently dropped by his record label, Hicks has been reduced to an upcoming run in the critically lambasted Broadway revival of "Grease." As the Teen Angel, the soul patrol leader will be crooning "Beauty School Dropout."

A silver medal performance by David Archuleta does not mean that he won't be seeing gold records in his future. Like second-season runner-up Clay Aiken, this 17-year-old is a power ballad singer with a growing legion of fans. And like Aiken, he says to Entertainment Weekly that this support can be unnerving. "Well, it's really weird. It's like, 'Why are they yelling my name? I'm just David.' "

Aiken is the most successful male artist to appear on "Idol." He just released his first studio album in five years –- "On My Way Here" –- which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard. And he is wrapping up his own run on Broadway, starring in the Tony Award-winning musical "Spamalot."

To read the complete Entertainment Weekly Q&A with David Cook CLICK HERE

To read the complete Entertainment Weekly Q&A with David Archuleta CLICK HERE

Now let's compare Cook to one of the least successful "Idol" champs and and most.

Photo: Fox TV

Has 'American Idol' become more relevant than the Oscars?

May 22, 2008 |  6:04 am

While describing the triumph of David Cook over David Archuleta as "the most dramatic upset in the history" of America's top-rated show, L.A. Times writer Richard Rushfield notes that "American Idol," "remains the only show able to consistently deliver vast numbers of viewers, eclipsing even the Oscars . . . .


"The show seems in the finale to have rebounded from its ratings decline. It premiered to an audience of 33.5 million total viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research, putting it ahead of the Oscars telecast to become the season's No. 2-rated program, trailing only the Super Bowl."

By contrast, the recent Oscars had 32 million viewers — its lowest tally ever. Unlike "American Idol," TV ratings of the Academy Awards telecast continue to tumble year to year. Are TV viewers telling us something?

Before we get too carried away with Oscars-bashing — always a lusty temptation — let's note that viewership of the season finale of "American Idol" did not match the Oscars audience: last night 27 million tuned in. But that was a jump up from 25.3 million viewers last year. In other words, there is, in general, an "Idol" uptick going on in contrast to an Oscars downtick.

Both programs are the equivalent to a Super Bowl of showbiz: one for pros decided by pros, the other for "amateurs" decided by everyday voters. If we put them both on a TV stage and had them slug it out like David Cook vs. David Archuleta, which one would be left standing, do you think, once America piped in?

Check out Rushfield's up-close, behind-the-curtains peek at "Idol's" last week CLICK HERE.


Forget 'American Idol' – will David Archuleta or David Cook win the most award contests ahead?

May 21, 2008 | 11:22 am

Although it's obvious that David Archuleta will win "American Idol," beware: David Cook could still prove to be the biggest, ultimate champ when all kudos are counted some future day. As Jennifer Hudson kicks back in her mansion right now — buffing her Oscar and Golden Globe and getting ready for the premieres of "Sex and the City" and her debut album — do you think she ever pauses to weep hysterically over the fact that she only made it as far as No. 7 in the "Idol" runoff?


Obviously, there are strong parallels between David Cook and that other rocker to lose "Idol" -– Chris Daughtry. Although Taylor Hicks won Season 5, Daughtry, who came in fourth, has enjoyed far greater success fronting his own rock band. The group earned four 2008 Grammy nominations for their debut album ("Daughtry"). Meantime, hey: whatever happened to Hicks?

Here's a look back at how some of the "Idol" stars, winners and losers, have fared in other top show-biz contests.

Season 4's Carrie Underwood is a rare example of a champ who swept other kudos after her "Idol" win. She won the 2007 Grammy as best new artist and another for female country vocal performance ("Jesus, Take the Wheel") and repeated in that category in 2008 ("Before He Cheats"). She's also snagged four American Music Awards, five Country Music Assn. Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards and three CMTs.

Season 1 champ Kelly Clarkson enjoyed some success with her debut album, "Thankful," but it was her second album that won her two Grammys in 2006 — best pop vocal album ("Breakaway") and best female pop vocal performance ("Since U Been Gone"). Her third album, "My December," has met with less success.

Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard picked up a Grammy nom in 2004 for best male R&B vocal performance ("Superstar"), but he lost to his idol, Luther Vandross. He is currently without a record label.

Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken has enjoyed commercial success if not critical acclaim. Although he has won three Billboard awards and was fan choice at the 2003 American Music Awards, he has yet to pick up any Grammy nods. Will his first new studio album in five years -– the recently released "On My Way Here" -– change that?

Season 3 winner Fantasia earned four Grammy nominations in 2006 for her debut album ("Free Yourself") and another three in 2008 for her second ("Fantasia"). She has three Billboard Awards, including the prize for top-selling single of 2004 ("I Believe").

Season 3 seventh-place finisher Jennifer Hudson went on to win an Oscar and a Golden Globe (among other kudos) for her supporting turn in the 2006 movie musical "Dreamgirls." She appears in the upcoming "Sex and the City" movie, and her debut album is due out this fall.

Last season's winner Jordin Sparks released her self-titled debut album last fall to good reviews and sales, including two platinum singles ("Tattoo" and "No Air").

(Fox TV/ L.A. Times)

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