American Idol now has a rock star to add to its roster of talented #1 musicians. Season Seven's winner is David Cook, a self proclaimed "word nerd" who came to the auditions with his brother -- not to audition -- but for moral support. David, not his brother wound up getting that golden ticket. And he didn't stop there. Cook's strategic performances took him all the way to the top.
This is one proud moment for the Kansas City bartender and his family. And this is really the fresh rejuvenation that American Idol needs to jumpstart its otherwise monotonous reality performance show. Ryan Seacrest noted "we're going to do it all over again" in January. So an eighth season is expected.
With the highest viewership ever -- 31.7 million -- a record setting 97.5 Million votes came in for the David Cook vs. David Archuleta sing-off. Cook received 56% of the vote while Archuleta got a respectable 44%. A twelve million vote lead wasn't a total wipe out, but many predicted (even judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson) it would be Archuleta with the mic in his hand ending the season.
Cook's coronation song, "Time of My Life" was written by the winner of AI's second annual songwriter contest, Regie Hamm. As much as it was Cook's moment - it was also Hamm's (who was in the audience watching). He says, after some prodding from his wife who watches American Idol, he wrote "Time of My Life" specifically for the competition. The tens of thousands of people who voted for it felt the connection and thought so too. The contest brought in thousands of songs, but by the time we got to hear and vote on any of them -- AI had it narrowed down to 20.
Season Seven's grand shebang was jam packed with entertainment. I was amused from start to finish. Bravo, very well done.
Third place finalist Syesha Mercado looked like she had the most fun of the night. No pressure, she didn't have to worry about competing. And she got to perform solo with Seal and Donna Summer! "Stamp Your Feet" is Summer's new hot single. The Queen of disco even handed Syesha her diamond microphone so she could sing her part of the song with bling!
There are so many amazing details of the night. Idol finalists and live performances with George Michaels, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top, OneRepublic, Jonas Brothers... So keep reading on for more stories of the night.
Before you do -- I first want to ask you what your favorite story of the finale or season is? Do you think American Idol has enough umph for an eighth season?
Brooke White and Graham Nash
blended well together with "Teach Your Children." That was a great opportunity for viewers to remember Brooke as the true singer-songwriter type she is. It's the genre of music she should stick with.
Towards the beginning of the show, the two Davids sang Chad Kroeger's "Hero" together. What a perfect song for them to harmonize to. Wow, they really are two of the best singers. And they seem to care about each other. Season seven finalists appear quite chummy. Looks like there are good times ahead for the summer concert tour.
We got a little sampling of what the tour will be like as some of the top contestants performed numerous songs as a group, solo or paired off.
One of my most unforgettable moments this season was Jason Castro singing a Jeff Buckley laced "Hallelujah". It was so good they had him sing it for the finale. I bet we'll get that little treat on tour too.
Two of the strongest soulful voices in the bunch are Carly Smithson and Michael Johns. They clicked as' they teamed to perform Joe Cockers, "The Letter".
Michael Johns looked a little goofy though? He may not have been dressed to impress, but everything else was killer.
You know, it was Michael John's who distracted me from calling the competition dead on. I predicted a Cook vs. Johns sing-off early on.
I think Johns is fantastic, but it was mostly just wishful thinking. I had put Archuleta in the third spot. Deep down I knew it would be Archuleta not Johns, but I held out hope.
Two Guitar Hero
commercials featured the two finalists with the Risky Business
"dancing around the family room" theme song. First we saw Cook's version.
Later in the show, Archuleta's was a tad different.
Both in their underwear, same basic moves, but whose interpretation did you dig more?
Both the AI winner and runner up received Escape hybrids. When Ryan was handing Archuleta the keys he joked, "you do have your license?" Winner or not Archuleta too has a ticket to ride.
What a performance he had with OneRepublic, "Apologize".
Performing songs more like that and less old school ones could have made the difference in Archuleta's chances. I, for one, never even thought of him singing a song like that, but it worked. And combined with how he sounded singing "Hero" -- I believe that could have gotten more mainstream voters in on Archie-action.
No time to look back.... all the AI finalists on stage tonight have too much excitement ahead to waste time with that.
It was so great to see season seven contestants we haven't seen perform for weeks like: David Hernandez, Ramiele Malubay and Chikeze Eze!
Season four winner Carrie Underwood has come a long way since coming back to the idol stage to sing "Jesus Take the Wheel".
How adorable was it when last year's winner Jordin Sparks sang her "One Step at a Time"
and runner-up Blake Lewis was in the audience singing along. Who Blake wanted to win was written all over his -- knuckles. At one point he popped his fist at the camera -- and sported the letters COOK.
During the auditions I saw a similarity in Cook and Blake. Maybe Blake feels a similar connection.
The David you were rooting for may or may not have won, but a lot of Archuleta-hopefuls were even satisfied with the outcome. As Simon Cowell said, "for the first time ever I don't really care who wins" because he likes both Davids a lot.