The last thing the world needs is another genre of music — but don't tell that to Blake Lewis.
The atypical "American Idol" alumnus, who was the runner-up during the show's sixth and most recent season, will release his debut album, A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream), in just two weeks (December 4). According to the beatboxing bottle blond, the disc will contain a new sound — one none of us has ever heard before, maybe.
"It's my new genre I made up," the singer, who was heavily influenced by 1980s pop, proudly told MTV News during a recent interview. "I call it 2080, because it's a mix of all the great pop music that's inspired me." Lewis claims the record is a blend of electronic elements fused with funk, soul, rock and pop — pretty much everything, kitchen sink included.
"I worked with so many amazing people on this record, and the title came from this concept I came up with for the album," he explained. "I wanted to make a hip-hop mixtape or a great electronic mix — just one mix, start to finish, that takes you on a journey through metal, drum-and-bass with scratching on it to Michael Jackson pop into Erasure into Depeche Mode into some dub reggae. This album goes everywhere, and it was an amazing process to work on it. There's a song on the record that's [the Police's] 'Every Breath You Take' meets [1984 film] 'The NeverEnding Story.' "
Lewis worked with a cornucopia of producers on A.D.D., including OneRepublic's Ryan "Alias" Tedder, Sam Watters, J.R. Rotem, BT, David Hodges, Mike Elizondo, S*A*M and Sluggo, and Sean Hurley. The set features a guest spot by Lupe Fiasco, and fellow "Idol" finalist Chris Richardson even co-wrote a track. Lewis recently finished working on the video for the LP's first single, "Break Anotha," which was shot against a green screen and has an interesting concept behind it.
"It's hard to describe, but you know how when you open Rorschach inkblot tests, how they have two different sides? It's going to be like that," he said. "There's going to be, like, ink and water, and different effects behind me that come in."
The song was recorded in Lewis' hometown of Seattle, at London Bridge studios — the same place Alice in Chains recorded 1990's Facelift, Soundgarden tracked 1989's Louder Than Love, and Pearl Jam made their 1991 debut, Ten. Lewis said he could feel "that same energy and that vibe" during his time at London Bridge, and said that had an effect on the sessions. So did recording most of the tracks in his native city, where most people still refer to him as Bshorty.
"Bshorty's in my blood," he said, when asked about the nickname. "I was the shortest kid in school, and 311 is my favorite band, so I [took a cue from them and their nicknames] and started doing all these hip-hop shows and beatboxing contests and raves, and it just stuck for a long time. Basically, the name came from watching aggressive inline-skate videos during the 1990s."
Lewis is "totally ready" for his album to hit stores and said he feels "fortunate and blessed" to have been able to make the record. He even admitted that he's not intimidated by his "Idol" contemporaries. In fact, he'd love to see their records succeed — especially winner Jordin Sparks' forthcoming album, due in stores Tuesday.
"Good luck and congrats," said Lewis, who appeared in Sparks' video for the song "Tattoo." "She's my little sister, but bigger than me. She's so rad and so genuine, and I wish her all the success in the world. I would love to work with her in the future and collaborate with her for something."
Lewis, who said he hopes to tour in January, also had some words of wisdom to impart on the next crop of "American Idol" wannabes. "The producers won't like it, but my advice is be yourself," he said. "Don't listen to anything they have to say, unless it's going to help you in a certain way. And look at the camera. You are reaching the people at home, so look in the camera or you won't visually reach anyone."