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MAR
15
2 YEARS

'American Idol's' Colton Dixon Sings Hair-Metal Hit; White Lion Frontman Praises Performance, Lays Into Steven Tyler

"Colton has my support all the way," says Mike Tramp, co-writer of "Broken Heart" and singer of the 80s band that once toured with Aerosmith.

Mike Tramp White Lion Colton Dixon split L

American Idol finalist Colton Dixon had a hell of a time with this week’s “songs from the year you were born” theme. The 20-year-old was born in 1991, which some may remember as that purgatorial period between the hair metal days of the late 1980s and grunge, which really took off the following year. As Dixon tells it, of the 100 or so songs he was presented with, he only recognized two and, despite Chris Daughtry’s advice to pick something the audience knows, he went for the more obscure route: a modest hit by Danish-American hard rockers White Lion called “Broken Heart.”

“I'm an emotional guy when it comes to music and I really like expressing my feelings in song -- it’s one reason why I chose ‘Broken Heart,’” Dixon told The Hollywood Reporter following Wednesday’s show. “I had so much fun with it and loved the way it turned out.”

So did judge Jennifer Lopez, who had never heard the song before, but complemented Dixon excitedly, calling the Tennessee native a “lover” and telling him he looked “pretty” when he sang. Steven Tyler, on the other hand, thought it was the wrong song for Dixon’s “voice and passion” and added, “I didn’t feel the song go anywhere.”

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But what did White Lion’s own singer think of Dixon’s performance? We reached rocker and co-writer Mike Tramp in his home country of Denmark where he told THR he had “nothing but praise and the absolutely the best to say about Colton, his voice and his passion for music. I enjoyed his performance and conviction of the song. Colton has my support all the way, he is a true star.”

As for Tyler’s comments, Tramp seemed baffled, especially since the two frontmen go back. Said Tramp: “What's wrong with Tyler? White Lion toured with Aerosmith for three months back in 1987 and we became friends. I would say he knows pretty well who White Lion is and that ‘Broken Heart’ is a key part in the foundation to the band and why we were successful in the 80s.”

Tramp didn’t cut Idol’s backing band much slack, either. “It’s a shame they couldn't lay down a better groove based on what they get paid or at least listen to the original better, even though they were doing their own version,” he jabbed.

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“Broken Heart,” originally released in 1985 and then rerecorded in 1991, was the first song written for White Lion with American bandmate Vito Bratta shortly after Tramp arrived in the U.S. in 1983, and while it wasn’t the band’s highest charting single (1988’s “When the Children Cry” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100), it would, in a way, end up being their last. The band decided to split in September 1991, the same month Nirvana’s Nevermind was released.

Today, Tramp is a solo artist, currently working on his sixth album (find him here and here). Note to Colton Dixon: Reach out anytime.

Check out the original “Broken Heart” and Dixon’s version below and tell us: is season 11’s resident rocker safe this week?

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin