Not all American Idol winners are created equal…
And there’s no better example of that than Kansas City’s David Cook, winner of the reality show’s seventh season. Unlike past Idol winners such as Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson who have become household names and achieved superstar status, five years after the fact Cook remains basically, “David who?”
As evidenced by a TMZ brief in December to which the gossip site felt the need to later add a pic of Cook singing along with advisory, “We realized you might need a refresher on who David Cook is …You’re welcome.”
Actually, there’s good news and bad news where Cook’s concerned.
First the good.
Cook has made Forbes list of the Top 10 earning Idols every year since taking top honors in May of 2008. While Forbes methodology of totaling earnings “from album sales, concerts, merchandising and other income sources for the past year” doesn’t equate to bottom line bank, it is a good indication that Cook has fared well financially if not artistically following his big win.
Cook came in at No. 8 on Forbes list in 2009 at $2 million, No. 7 in 2010 at $2.8 million and tied for No. 10 in 2011 and 2012 at $1 million per year.
How much of that green actually hit Cook’s bank account remains unknown, but clearly there was enough dough and cache to enable him to purchase what TMZ described as a $1.3 million Hollywood mansion and engage in a high profile romance with second season Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell.
Cook’s debut album was certified Platinum in 2009 with sales of over one million units and combined with his lucrative deal with Skechers, he was clearly in the chips.
Now the bad news.
Cook’s second major label album, “This Loud Morning” debuted in June of 2011, garnered tepid reviews at best and sold only 130,000 copies its first year. That’s more than an 87 percent drop from his self-titled debut album.
“Poor David Cook,” wrote a reviewer for US Weekly. “The rocker hasn’t really lived up to his American Idol title since his season 7 win. And while his nimble guitar work and gruff voice are still in fine form on his second CD, they’re squandered on yet another homogenous set of songs. Sadly, it’s another forgettable collection of cliche-soaked lyrics”
“Adam Lambert is widely hailed as the most daring Idol performer, but it was Texas-born David Cook, winner of the show’s seventh season, who laid the foundations for him, with risky, loud, left-field versions of classic pop tunes. He shows no such appetite for taking chances on his second studio album, instead channeling wishy-washy, all-purpose emotion and radio-friendly, anthemic pop-rock choruses that are pale imitations of Cook’s professed alt-rock heroes like Chris Cornell and Alice In Chains…” echoed Rolling Stone reviewer Will Cook. “Cook’s voice still hits a sweet spot occasionally, and the music is accomplished enough. But This Loud Morning isn’t worth waking up for.”
Next thing anyone knew, Cook’s label dumped him, he dumped the Hollywood manse (it was only 3,000 square feet anyway) and was off to Nashville to look for greener pastures and work on a third album.
Cook even got a taste of good-old fashioned Hollywood tabloid journalism early on after he broke up with Caldwell.
“Star magazine reported in December that David checked out an extravagant 2-carat diamond and platinum ring from Tiffany’s to be given to Kimberly when he proposes to her,” aceshowbiz.com writes. “The gem reportedly costs $54,000.
“However, last week Star claimed in a report that Kimberly has ‘been caught in a clinch with a handsome bar manager!’ She ‘flirted, danced, drank and made out with Ryan Der at L.A.’s trendy ONE Sunset on December 29,’ the publication revealed.
“Kim and Ryan, according to a source as being quoted by Star, were seen ‘grinding on the dance floor. They started playfully kissing, but that quickly led to long lip locks until they were full-on making out.’ The source continued, ‘Everyone could see she was really letting loose. She and Ryan were laughing together as they threw back beers and vodka cocktails.’ ”
As for the future, who knows?
Cook might be able to make it as a growling country singer, or strike the right alliances and return to his alt rocking days here in KC. Whatever happens, it’s far better to have been loved and lost than never to have been loved at all.
Cook seemed to recognize that in an MTV interview shortly after winning Idol.
“I actually walked into this with no expectations and I’m walking out of it with no expectations, and I think this show is a springboard, but it’s still a crapshoot,” he said. “I could easily walk out of this arena and just be a regular Joe tomorrow. I hope that’s not the case. That’s kind of up to everybody else.”