“American Idol” season-eight alumni Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta are as wildly different from each other as possible. But the trio — who are all set to release their debut post-”Idol” albums later this year — have one thing in common: They’re running to Kevin Rudolf for material.
The Miami hitmaker, who’s worked with everyone from Lil Wayne to Cobra Starship, told MTV News his experiences with the “Idol” contestants have been some of the best of his red-hot career.
“[The 'Idol' albums are] so fun to work on, because they have the attention of the world, which means they don’t really have to conform as much as a lot of other artists, format-wise. They don’t have to be cookie-cutter,” Rudolf said. “People will listen [no matter what]. So if you do something that’s great, that blows people away. You’re skipping that step of, ‘Well, we’re not sure if it’s this [genre], we’re not sure if it’s [that genre],’ which a lot of people [in the industry] say. You can do anything you want.”
Rudolf also pointed to the artists’ relative inexperience in the studio as a plus. “They’re all really humble and cool. They’re awesome, they’re happy to be there, they’re appreciative.”
So, with the freedom to play around in the studio with fresh-faced, bright-eyed talent, what exactly will his collaborations sound like? Well, Rudolf has worked the most with fourth-place finisher Allison Iraheta, having completed one track with the fiery-haired rocker and writing a couple of other tunes to be considered for her album. “I think Allison is, like, probably one of the most talented singers out in the world right now,” Rudolf gushed. “She’s one of my favorite people I’ve ever worked with. Ever. She’s awesome.”
In fact, the songwriter/producer was so impressed with the 17-year-old powerhouse, he considered reprioritizing his workload. “I even told the label, ‘I would just, like, quit half of what I’m doing and work just on this [album], because she’s so good.’ Such a great voice! I just want to make sure she gets great records and special attention and, you know, the songs and material that she deserves to have.”
Despite Iraheta’s youth, Rudolf delivered material that elevates above the typical tween-pop genre. “I don’t write bubblegum pop. Even if I write something that’s poppy I always try to do something with integrity and that’s real and has heart. We did a cool record. It has a little bit of a wink to it, but it’s smart. To me, she’s like the new Janis Joplin or Pat Benetar.” No surprise, then, that Rudolf described his collaboration as an “updated 2010 version” of Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
Rudolf — who scored a solo hit with “Let It Rock” in 2008 before becoming one of the most sought-after songwriter/producers in the biz — also had positive things to say about runner-up Adam Lambert, even though he only worked with him for “five or six hours” right before the American Idols Live! Tour kicked off in July. “He’s so cool, so open. … His voice is incredible. He can do anything he wants. It’s just a matter of choosing the right direction and homing in and saying, ‘This is my sound.’ ”
Rudolf believes he knows what’s best for Adam. “We started a song that was … kind of like an updated, futuristic-rock, disco-ish thing.” As is the case with all post-”Idol” projects, Rudolf was not at liberty to reveal any song titles or lyrics, but he did announce that he plans to complete the “disco-ish” song with Lambert now that the “Idol” tour has wrapped up. “I’m gonna do some more stuff with him,” the visibly excited producer promised.
Rudolf was impressed with the behind-the-scenes teams working with those artists, which should quell paranoid fans’ fears that “Idol” execs force the singers to go in certain musical directions against their wishes (see: Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Hicks). “I’ve had [record-label interference] on a lot of records that you wouldn’t even think that are even like that,” Rudolf revealed. “Actually, with the ‘Idol’ ones, everyone at the label who’s handling those projects are very cool and very laid-back.” At the same time, though, Rudolf admitted that there are “a lot of chefs in the kitchen,” but he views that as a positive. “I don’t think it’s gonna go wrong. I know they’re all working with mostly really good-quality people.”
Also on Rudolf’s docket? A session with “Idol” champ Allen to take place “early in October,” approximately six weeks before Allen’s album is slated to drop. When pressed to guess which of the three contestants will sell the most records, Rudolf artfully dodged the question. “Whoever has the best songs, honestly. I know it’s about the artist and their whole thing as an artist, but I always believe it’s about the song. Whoever has the best song wins.”
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