×

How Halsey Helped ‘American Idol’ Alum David Cook Find Inspiration for New Song ‘Gimme Heartbreak’

With the release of his new single, “Gimme Heartbreak,” “American Idol” Season 7 winner David Cook feels like he is “cracking the spine on a new chapter” — his musical evolution.

In crafting the lyrics, where Cook sings of a former lover being the equivalent of “death in a black dress,” Cook tells Variety he made a “a conscious effort going into the production to incorporate more cinematic pop elements.” Taking inspiration from recent releases — “I was listening to Halsey’s  ‘Badlands’ record,” he reveals — Cook also leaned on “old standbys like Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack” to find “vibes” for a new direction.

“The whole song represents unhealthy relationships that, for some reason, you don’t want to get out of,” says Cook. “I have certainly had my share of them. It felt like a good narrative to go with.”

Lyrically, he adds, “It was a patchwork song. I had all these little two-line imagery things I wanted to play with. You get the music all sorted out and suddenly it was like putting puzzle pieces down to try and make a match. I think the end result is something that is moody, dark, with a ton of imagery and those are the kinds of songs I really resonate with.”

The song is already resonating with his audience, who called for “Gimme Heartbreak: repeatedly at the singer’s July 12 show at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ. “We are going to play it later,” the singer joked, as he powered through a set of songs leaning heavily on his previous effort, “Digital Vein.”

Cook honored that time of his life — the years following his “Idol” win in 2009, by playing the single “Come Back to Me,” and paying tribute to memory of the late Chris Cornell, who co-authored Cook’s 2009 single, “Light On.”

“I feel honored and blessed to play it,” he told the audience. “I hope he’s listening.”

The Missouri-born singer’s show went off without a hitch, despite Cook’s announcement that he had to take a few days off vocal rest from his touring schedule on doctor’s orders “to badge up the boo-boos.” A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” soared, and Cook showed no evidence of vocal strain at all on versions of “Laying Me Low” and the emotional rocker “Broken Windows” from “Digital Vein.”

Ever the professional, Cook offered up a healthy serving of stage banter, recalling the last time he performed with different musicians in the Garden State, tackling a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” at iPlay America in Freehold. He even played a brief snippet of “Fade Into Me” from “This Loud Morning” when a fan called out that it was their wedding song.

Once he gets his voice back in working order, dates in Richmond, Va., Raleigh, NC, Charleston, SC, and Asheville, NC, will all be rescheduled for the fall. The Asheville show date will take place on Sept. 26, with the rest of the dates due to be announced shortly. The tour is scheduled to resume tomorrow (July 18) in Atlanta, Georgia.

For now, Cook is focusing on finishing his soon-to-be released EP. Three songs, including  originals Ghost Magnetic (co-authored with Ryan Starr) and a cover of “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, already an audience favorite in the live show.

“We play all of them live,” he says. “Musically, they all sit in the same space. The trick now for us is to go in the studio and get a few more songs recorded.”

Watch the lyric video for “Gimme Heartbreak” below:

More Music

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Black Ball

    President Trump Speaks in Support of A$AP Rocky (Watch)

    In one of the more surreal moments from a presidency filled with few not-surreal moments, President Trump spoke out today in support of rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been jailed in Sweden for more than two weeks after an altercation with fans he said were harassing him. “A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden, a [...]

  • David Crosby and Cameron Crowe'David Crosby:

    Cameron Crowe Picks Five Favorite Underrated David Crosby Tracks

    “Music is love,” as David Crosby once sang, and nothing breeds deeper love than a sense that something is overlooked. So that’s why Variety asked Cameron Crowe to dig deep into the Crosby canon and pick not just a triad but five favorites from among the CSN singer’s most underrated tracks. Crowe, of course, has [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • The Lion King The Gift

    Album Review: Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift'

    Before touching down on what Beyoncé has called her “love letter to Africa,” it’s important to see what may have brought her to the mother of mankind, with its wide vistas and sonic planes, for “The Gift” in the first place — beyond, of course, voicing Nala in the film and whatever international marketing tie-ins [...]

  • Rick Rubin Spotify Secret Genius Awards,

    Seven Things We Learned About 'Shangri-La' and Rick Rubin from Showtime's Series

    Showtime’s documentary series “Shangri-La” insists it is not a biographical documentary on uber-producer Rick Rubin, and it’s not meant as a four-hour advertisement for Rubin’s legendary Malibu studio, after which the four-part series is named … but it feels like a little bit of both those things. “Shangri-La” is primarily filmed at the studio where [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content