Backstage at the American Idol finale
The battle of the Davids has come to a close, with David Cook emerging as the victor for the seventh season of American Idol.
The highly anticipated finale had everyone -- bloggers, fans and even celebrities -- buzzing about which David would be the next Idol. But even after David Archuleta's much-praised performance Tuesday night (and Simon Cowell's endorsement), many were predicting Cook to win the title.
Still, backstage at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, the result had the press gasping. Cook himself seemed surprised that he received the majority of 97.5 million votes cast. "I walked into this competition with no expectations and I'm walking out with out any," Cook told the press.
So what went through Cook's mind when he heard host Ryan Seacrest declare him the winner? "My music teacher in the second grade made me sing in a Christmas pageant," he recalled. "And now I'm here. The ride's been pretty nuts. You couldn't write this."
The champion took a beat, realized he was in a room full of writers and added with a smile, "Well, maybe you [all] could."
"I didn't think I was going to win."
Even more surprising was the ever-caustic Cowell apologizing to Cook for being so hard on him on his final songs. "I don't know if Simon's apology was warranted," Cook mused. "At no point did I feel disrespected."
Archuleta, however, was glad Cowell came clean. "I don't think anyone realizes how much work we put into this," the runner-up said.
The 17-year-old had nothing but good things to say about the guy who'd just beaten him. "He's like my big brother," he gushed. "He's a great guy, humble and down to earth. People chose me to stand beside him. That was an honor."
And Cook returned the praise: "He has more talent at his age than I'd know what to do with at 25."
Graham Nash, who performed his hit 'Teach Your Children Well' with Idol contestant Brooke White, picked Archuleta to win based on his performance of 'Imagine.' But he said he didn't vote, joking, "They were afraid David Crosby was going to call me during rehearsal so they took my phone away."
Donna Summer, who debuted a song from her new CD Crayons, praised the Idol singers for showing growth throughout the season. "Everyone here starts off at a certain place and they get better," she observed. "That's [especially] true for both Davids."
Unlike Nash, Summer said she did vote, but unlike Nash, the disco queen didn't share her pick. "I'd tell you [who I voted for]," she responded to one journalist, then added with a smile, "But then I'd have to kill you!"
Cook began his reign as the American Idol champion with a rendition of 'Time of My Life,' written by songwriting contest winner Regie Hamm. (The single's available for downloading at americanidol.com and on iTunes.com)
As for the future, both Davids want to continue making music. "I hope to see what happens," said Archuleta, realizing he has music, college and other options in front of him.
What kind of album would Cook like to make? "A good one," he said with a smile.
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