I want to spend time writing, get those songs together, and then go out and say I’m ready. I’m ready to make an album and show it to the record labels and say this is the music I’m going to do. Are you supportive, do you believe in me? That’s what I want to do.
– from David’s Interview with Yes
If this ain’t the epitome of cool, I don’t know what is. I said I was going to take my time to reflect on David and the “cool factor,” at least what I think of as a “cool factor.” And whether or not he “fits” into the current pop music scene, it doesn’t matter one iota because David is listening to his own inner music and has his own inner core.
Anyone with that kind of inner musical core isn’t someone to “fit in.” He’s someone who will “transcend.” And to me that’s what sets David apart. He has the ability, more than anyone else on the music scene, to give us a bit of magic. Because that’s what transcendence is about.
So, here’s an early example. Remember back when we were being introduced to David on Idol, and comedian Wanda Sykes on Ellen had this to say (at the 3:55 minute mark)?
Apart from her hilarious description of other contestants’ “envy” (you can see for yourself the moment preceding David Cook giving David the “glare”- curiously, earlier videos of that moment have been removed from YouTube), what Wanda zeroed in on is David’s “magic” and how he not only stood out from the crowd of contestants but had actually caused the eventual winner of that season to step up his game and make a “connection” (I personally don’t think that happened – the only “connection” made was in appropriating other bands’ covers of popular songs, turning them into rock songs, and creating superficial “buzz” over such musical spectacles).
My point is: David exhibited “magic” from the get go, and all a reality TV show did during the course of a season is to diminish that light and try to expose the “tricks” of a magic show. However, true fans of David know real magic can’t be exposed; it can only be felt.
I cannot blame David for getting off the crazy merry-go-round that is the current pop music scene, which has shown in so many ways that they have no respect for the “magic” of a real music artist that David represents. If Idol wanted to dull the magic, Jive wanted to repackage it in a superficial box of “cuteness.” Anyone in the music industry knows that a teen pop idol doesn’t need any “magic”; he just needs to take pretty pictures and be only “competent” as a musician. “Magic” and “excellence”? What do those qualities have to do with marketing to a bunch of tweens? And yeah, his more mature fans don’t count.
This particular break that David is taking – and at age 20 no less – is an indicator of his musical genius and his willingness to steer his own path. How many other “pop” artists have that insight at that young age? He could just as easily follow the pop trends and make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. Methinks David is aiming a bit higher and a bit longer-termed.
But, I don’t want David to just find a record label and management who “believes in him.” I want him to find someone who recognizes the “magic” that was so clear to anyone who heard him open his lovely mouth on such songs like “Imagine” and “Heaven.” I want them to see that special shine and market that. I want David to also believe in his own brand of “magic.”
As the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death comes upon us this weekend, let us remember that MJ, who also struggled to find his musical identity at David’s age (as I had highlighted earlier this year in the “Being 20″ series), also believed in his own brand of magic and found ways to set himself apart from the crowd.
No label or management should even think of marketing David as just another pop star or heartthrob. Puh-lease! Just like MJ stepped out in a tux with high-water leggings and saddle shoes, and made that geeky look COOL, so too can David’s quirkiness set trends and set him apart from everyone else.
He’s not just another voice. He is The Voice! I can only hope that David finally sees himself the way his devoted fans do and recognize that his Voice (which he still doesn’t like) is one of a kind and one that has the ability to set the world afire.
One day he will learn this, and so will the rest of the music scene.