Ex-"Idols" Young and Lewis take indie route

Mon Jul 7, 2008 4:50pm EDT
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By Jill Menze

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Arguably the biggest asset that "American Idol" grants is exposure. Contestants go from unknown hopefuls to household names in a matter of weeks, and with that comes pressure to remain in the spotlight by rushing to release an album after the show airs.

But for every Chris Daughtry there are several LaToya Londons and Paris Bennetts, whose quick-turnaround post-"Idol" album debuts slip quietly under the radar.

This summer finds two more former contestants, Season 5's Ace Young and Season 3's Jon Peter Lewis, ready to step out with new releases. To their benefit or detriment, it has been a couple of years or more since their time on the show, and both opted to go the independent, rather than the major-label, route.

Young and songwriter/producer Desmond Child split the costs of making his self-titled debut, due July 15 via Pazzo Music through Fontana/Universal. Lewis hooked up with executive producer Don Grierson and will release "Break the Silence" July 22 via his own Cockaroo Records through Adrenaline Music Group.

"(Young and Lewis) took a huge step to be in control of their records," says My Rocket Science director of digital media Alicia Yaffe, who is working with both artists. And while this allowed them creative control with little label interference, they face the challenge of getting that music heard.


After Young's run on the show, he says he separated himself from the "Idol" machine and declined initial offers that came his way. Having worked with Brian McKnight prior to the show, Young wanted to return to his R&B and urban roots and sought out Child's help. "He wrote the rock (songs) that I grew up with," he says. "I thought in order to show who I am musically, it would be perfect to have Desmond bring that rock production aspect, and I'm able to bring (my) urban influences."

Together they split the finances and wrote more than 50 songs, 11 of which made the final cut. Young is a writer on seven of the album's tracks, including "The Letter," about breaking up with a girl over fan mail, and "Fast Life," a "late-'70s throwback with live horns." Songwriter Diane Warren contributed the balled "You Redeem Me."   Continued...

<p>Former finalist Ace Young attends an event honoring this season's American Idol top 24 contestants in Los Angeles February 14, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>