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May 21, 2008
Idol Chatter: Shocker, or did the voters rise to the rescue?

Associated Press/Kevork Djansezian

Once I pulled myself off the floor, I thought, "This is how it felt when the hanging chad decided the 2000 presidential election in Florida."

David Cook, 25 (shown right), in what has to be called a "what the..." moment, took the title of "American Idol" tonight over rival teen idol David Archuleta, 17.

It probably won't sink in for days because Cook, like myself and a gaziillion other "Idol" fans, seemed OK and even upbeat with the possibility of him coming in second.

But, after more than 97.5 million votes were cast, Cook took the title by 12 million. Host Ryan Seacrest clarified the enormity of the record-setting vote by schooling us that it still wouldn't have equaled the combined populations of Canada, Spain, Ireland and Australia.

"It smashed the previous record by 23 million votes," he said.

Wednesday night's show paid homage to this season's Top 12, who reunited for several songs. And then there were performances by current and past musical stars eager to soak up a moment in the spotlight on one of TV's highest-rated reality shows. And, of course, to promote new albums and concerts.

Things got started with a "Get Ready" medley by the Top 12, accompanied by the current stars of their sister series, "So You Think You Can Dance?"

The two Davids did a nice song together, "Watching Us Fly Away."

(Somewhere, in the middle of everything, was a huge promotion for Paramount's new movie, "The Love Guru," starring Mike Myers as a totally new character beyond his Austin Powers personna. Okaaaay.)

But, I digress. Back to the show.

Seal joined No. 3 contestant Syesha Mercado on "Waiting for You"; No. 4 Jason Castro sang one of his best songs, "Hallelujah," and the No. 7 and No. 8 contestants, Carly Smithson and Michael Johns, sang "The Letter."

My highpoints?

The group performances: The Top 6 girls getting it on with a Donna Summer medley, eventually to be joined on stage by the queen of disco herself. The Top 6 guys rocking with Bryan Adams, where Cook was in his element, even putting his arm around the singer at times.

The solos: David C. in hog heaven with ZZ Top; David A. in his element with One Republic.

Loved Brooke White crooning and strumming with Graham Nash on "Teach Your Children Well." Sorry kids, but the only thing missing from the Jonas Brothers is Sanjaya Malakar as a back-up singer. Ugh!

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel took a few more swipes at judge Simon Cowell. And, in the annual homage to the season's really horrendous auditions, we got an onstage performance by Renaldo Lapuz, whose "I Am Your Brother" was accompanied by the entire USC marching band and cheerleaders.

Last season's winner, Jordin Sparks, left me yawning with "One Step at a Time," but hand the stage over to Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, the newly crowned best female artist at the recent Academy of Country Music Association awards. Her "Last Name" performance proves she reigns as the best of the "Idol" winners - so far.

Before the results were announced, singer George Michael delivered a poignant "Prayiing for Time," which left Paula Abdul totally verklempt. Michael, who is about to launch his first tour in 17 years, deserved the platform. It was one of the best performances I've seen from him in oh, 17 years.

Left only with the judges' final remarks, I expected the usual "You guys were great, blah, blah, blah and (a 'heartfelt') nothing to be ashamed of." Instead, Simon fessed up to what he believed was an egregious error on his part on Tuesday night's show. Here's what he said tonight:

"Congratulations both of you. Last night was a terrific show. But, after watching the tape, I don't think it was so clear-cut. I think I was verging on disrespectful of you David (Cook). And for that, I apologize. You're both triers, nice people. And, for the first time, I don't care who wins."

At that point, it was time for the big announcement. And what could David C. say but "Thank you" and blame his brother for getting him into the competition to begin with? Then, he sang the season's winning song, "Time of My Life."

On Wednesday, I said I thought David C. might have held back in order to finish second and get on with it after the tour.

But I will, without hesitation, say that I've liked him from the start. Perhaps because I appreciate a good bartender who can sing. Or maybe because he makes me want to dance and wear jeans and cowboy boots. I've downloaded his songs and mop floors to his music. Folks, he's that good. Even so, I predicted David A. would win.

Heck, I was wrong, and I have no problem admitting it. You rock, David Cook!

I'll be talking to both Davids on Friday as part of a teleconference. Check back to 21Q to see what they have to say.

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