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'American Idol' news conference: The Davids sing each other's praises

May 22, 2008 |  8:27 am

Dd2 "I didn't really know that [judge Simon Cowell's] apology was warranted," mused David Cook, during a news conference at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, just hours after being handed the "American Idol" crown. Cook wasn't expecting Simon Cowell's apology, but that doesn't mean he wasn't happy to take it. "An apology from Simon is a rare gem!" He chuckled. 

Cook was in his glory during the news conference, and rightfully so. He couldn't help but look back at how far he'd come over the course of his singing career, even recalling a grade school teacher who "made me sing at a Christmas pageant." 

It was Cook's moment of glory, but he still made sure to shower praise on his humble competitor, David Archuleta. "He has more talent at his age than I know what to do with at 25," marveled Cook.

When asked which of his performances was his favorite, Cook didn't miss a beat. "The last one," he said, still glowing from the rush of that final performance.  "Tonight was just about exhaling. "

As for what comes after the exhale, Cook seemed utterly clueless –- and content with that.  "I actually walked into this with no expectations and I'm walking out of this with no expectations," he stated simply.

But despite his calm, cool and collected approach to the future, Cook couldn't help but get emotional about the present.  Namely, that moment up on stage with his mother and brother. In August, Cook, his mother, and his brother all waited in line together "in Omaha, Nebraska, at 5:30 in the morning when it was raining." Then, nine months later, Cook's mother and brother stood beside him once more, as he won "American Idol."  It was like coming "full circle," he explained. 

After Cook was whisked away, Archuleta emerged, grinning from ear to ear. "Um, it's a big relief," he stammered. "Oh my gosh, no more getting judged after each performance!" 

The questions inevitably turned to that other, bigger David, and Archie lit up. "He's like my big brother!" he exclaimed.

On the subject of Cowell's apology to Cook, Archuleta was quick to take a stance. "I'm glad [Simon] apologized to Cook," emoted Archie, as though personally insulted by Cowell's comments. "Because I don't think anyone realizes how much work we put into this." Over the course of the conference, the sense of solidarity in Archie's tone was unmistakable; criticism of Cook was also criticism of Archie, and a win for Cook was also a win for Archie.

When the subject of Archuleta's own success in the competition came up, he was as modest as ever. "I didn't even know I'd make it past the first round, for Pete's sake!" he exclaimed.  As for making it, not just past the first round, but into the final two, Archuleta was utterly baffled. "I just can't believe that people have decided for me to be next to him of all people!" 

And Cook wasn't the only one Archuleta gushed over.  He couldn't say enough kind things about his "Idol" mentors, especially Mariah Carey. "Mariah had me doing things I was afraid of doing before, like using my head voice," recalled Archuleta.

The questions kept firing, and the young Archuleta fielded them with enthusiasm and sweetness, only halting once, to lick his lips. "Sorry," he muttered with his trademark bashful smile. "My lips are getting dry."

-- Stephanie Lysaght

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