'Idol' Lee DeWyze Says Simon Cowell Is Irreplaceable
By Amber James Posted Jul 28th 2010 01:20PM
It's been two months since Lee DeWyze was crowned the season 9 winner of 'American Idol,' but he's still trying to soak it all in. The Illinois-born singer, who just a year ago was selling paint at Mt. Prospect Paint, Inc., became an instant heartthrob for millions of viewers, who fell in love with his shy-guy persona and charm. For now, he's reveling in his new-found fame and hasn't lost sight of the great opportunities that lay ahead. "My life is completely different than it was a year ago. I'm taking each day step-by-step because it is all new to me. But I'm happy where I'm at. It's a good place to be," he tells PopEater from his midtown Manhattan hotel.
DeWyze first auditioned in Chicago at the United Center with the song 'Ain't No Sunshine,' and was one of only 13 people from the Windy City to make it through to 'AI's' Hollywood Week. He caught Simon Cowell's attention, and took the judges' criticisms seriously because he wanted to win.
"When Simon said on the show, 'Prepare your songs the way you'd want them to be on your album,' it really helped me. It made sense. Why wouldn't I want to do that? Instead of going up an singing a Shania Twain song exactly like Shania Twain, I learned to sing it my way," he said.
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The strategy worked and DeWyze flew through every round. He never landed in the bottom three, and in the end beat Crystal Bowersox for the 'American Idol' crown.
In an instant, 24-year-old DeWyze was riding high, scoring a recording contract with Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment and RCA Records -- joining the ranks of previous 'Idol' winners like Kelly Clarkson, David Cook, Carrie Underwood and Kris Allen. His popularity exploded overnight. Fans began pouring their support for him into letters and sent him so many stuffed animals it'd make FAO Schwarz jealous. But he admits the "fandemonium" has been strange -- one fan actually sent him her birth certificate. Seriously.
He's taking all the attention in stride.
Now on the road for the 'American Idols Live' tour, he's loving the fact that he can finally sing "more than 90 seconds of a song." His first single, a cover of U2's 'Beautiful Day,' was released as a digital single on May 27 -- but he's "done with covers for a while," he jokes.
Instead of riding on the coattails of past hit songs, he wants an album that showcases his chops with original material. "My goal isn't to throw a bunch of things against the wall and hope something sticks," he says about his as-yet-untitled album. "This is my first album, and I want it to reflect who I am."
With musical influences like Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton and Simon & Garfunkel, DeWyze's post-'Idol' album will include original pop and folk songs. The tentative release date is October 26.
DeWyze couldn't be happier with the 'Idol' experience, but he admits he has put his romantic life on the back burner since winning the title. "I'm a relationship guy ... But there is just so much going on, it wouldn't be fair to her or me," he says. Sorry, ladies.
As FOX prepares to usher in a new 'Idol' for its tenth season, DeWyze is skeptical, admitting the new contestants will never get to experience the wrath -- and frank advice -- of judge Simon Cowell. "These 15-year-olds only know of this big scary guy on 'American Idol,' and now he's not there," DeWyze laments, adding no one will ever be able to replace Cowell and his infamous persona.
But the show will go on, he says.
The talented star is ready to step aside and let another big-eyed dreamer leap into America's hearts. As for himself, he is ready to "step it up" and show the world he is not a one-hit wonder.
"For me, it isn't just about this moment. This is all a building process towards my dream," he says. "Music is it for me right now. This is what I love."
'American Idol' season 9 winner Lee Dewyze performs on 'Good Morning America' on July 9, 2010 in New York City.
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