David Cook: On Performance

To Many, David Cook Is “That Pop Guy who won American Idol.” To the kajillions of Idol fans who watched the show religiously in 2008, however, Cook is the rock guy. He’s the singer/ guitarist who regularly stepped on the Idol stage with a Les Paul and a half-stack and blew mainstream music fans’ minds with rock and roll reimaginings of famous pop songs. His haunting, Chris Cornell-inspired version of “Billie Jean” made him an early frontrunner. Since winning the show, Cook has seen 11 of his tunes hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has just completed his self-titled major label debut for 19/RCA.

When Cook started on the show, his guitar— an EMG-loaded southpaw Les Paul Studio—was a crutch. “It was a buffer that made the judges’ criticism a little less harsh,” he says. “But once I got in the mind frame of using the guitar to accentuate what I was trying to do with the song, everything started to take off for me. Anybody can shred if they practice at it, but even with guys like Vai, Satriani, and Yngwie, there’s something extra in their music that transcends mere guitar playing. Being on Idol really taught me that sometimes the most powerful guitar is the one that is not played that much.”