×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Guy Moot

    Is Sony/ATV’s Guy Moot Headed for Top Job at Warner/Chappell?

    Ever since Jon Platt announced in September that he will be stepping down from his post at the helm of Warner/Chappell Publishing to take the top job at Sony/ATV when Martin Bandier’s contract is up at the end of March, speculation has been rife about who will take over for him. One name has been [...]

  • (L to R) MAHERSHALA ALI and

    Scores from 'Green Book,' 'Solo,' Others Disqualified from Oscar Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    First-round voting is underway for Oscar’s Original Song and Original Score categories, but Academy music-branch voters are discovering that four talked-about scores are missing from the eligibility list. Music for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Green Book,” “Mandy” and “The Other Side of the Wind” has been disqualified for various reasons, Variety has learned. More [...]

  • Marcus Mumford of the band Mumford

    Concert Review: Mumford & Sons Ride 'Delta' During U.S. Tour Opener in Philly

    Mumford & Sons have come a long way from their raw and rustic roots to have happily come no way at all.  Even though the British quartet smoothed and softened elements of the rough, intimate folk of their 2007 origin story to include flickering arena-rock guitars (on 2015’s “Wilder Mind”) and windy synths (2018’s “Delta”), [...]

  • The King Eric Clapton A Life

    Rashida Jones, Lili Zanuck Talk Grammy Nominations and the Music-Documentary Gold Rush

    Nothing takes you back to time and a place like the music of a particular era. That’s one big reason why music documentaries are flourishing at a time of enormous demand for high-end docu productions. This year’s five Grammy Award nominees for best music film reflect the appetite for stories about renowned and beloved musical figures, [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Varèse Sarabande's Top 10 Sellers List Led by 'Ghost,' 'T2,' 'Star Wars' Albums

    John Carpenter’s “Halloween” music? A “Star Wars” compendium? It’s no shock to see these show up on a list of soundtrack label Varèse Sarabande’s historical 10 biggest selling albums. More surprising? Non-genre soundtracks like “Rudy” and “The Man from Snowy River,” which film music fans snatched up in numbers matching some of the more obvious [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content