As far as Blake Lewis is concerned, selling close to 300,000 copies of his debut LP, A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream), was a "huge success" — at least on a personal level. Apparently, Arista Records has a different definition of success.
The atypical "American Idol" alumnus (he was the season-six runner-up, ultimately losing out to Jordin Sparks) told MTV News that he parted ways with Arista just seven months after his record landed in stores. That makes his the shortest of all the relationships forged between former "Idol" contenders and their various record labels. But the beatboxer would like to clarify one point: He wasn't dropped by the label — the relationship merely dissolved.
"My contract with Arista is up, and they didn't option me, so I'm with 19 Recordings and we're working on booking a tour," he explained. "Arista went through a lot of changes. The person who was working on my record was fired. ... I guess in the world of radio, selling 300,000 is not a success. I beg to differ. I couldn't be happier, and my fans are amazing and super-supportive."
The label setback isn't about to deter Lewis from continuing his music career. He said he's already written four songs for his sophomore LP, which he's working on with his band's drummer, Kevin "KJ" Sawka. The pair will be co-producing the effort, which Lewis describes as "Massive Attack meets Zero 7 — drum-and-bass with a little pop influence."
But who will release the record when it's in the bag? Lewis said he may release the disc through his own label, which he's in the process of getting off the ground. "I'm super-passionate about this record," he said. "Who knows what's in store? Half the year's over, and it's only going to keep going."
Lewis believes sales of his album were hurt because he couldn't get Top 40 radio to spin the LP's first single, "Break Anotha." He also thinks it might not have been the best choice as a lead single.
"I did a track with Lupe Fiasco called 'Know My Name,' and I thought that would have been a better single," he said, adding that he's about to meet with Simon Fuller, who created "American Idol" and runs 19 Recordings, to see if he can get his debut offering released overseas. "It was largely influenced by '80s music and electronic music, so I want to get over there and tour as much as possible."
In the eyes of some of his fans, Lewis is a casualty of the "American Idol" machine. As history has shown, "Idol" runner-ups generally aren't given the same label support as the show's champs, making it even more challenging for them to sustain their post-"Idol" momentum. But Lewis doesn't feel he was shafted for his second-place finish.
"I got to make an album I'm proud of, and I worked my butt off on this music," he said. "Regardless of if it's a huge mainstream success or not, I've been an independent artist for the last eight years, and I'll keep it that way if I have to. I don't think I got shafted — they treated me well. It's just that the industry is eating itself alive. There are only three major labels left, and I have experienced the deterioration of the industry."
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