- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The grown-up rocker triumphed over the smooth-voiced kid as David Cook claimed the “American Idol” title tonight, and it wasn’t as much of a surprise as it seemed.

While 17-year-old David Archuleta was heaped with praise by the judges the night before, the voters decided otherwise — and did they ever. Host Ryan Seacrest said during tonight’s show that 12 million votes was the difference, and they broke in the favor of the 25-year-old from Blue Springs, Mo.

Cook was overcome by emotion, bending toward the stage after his name was announced.

“This is amazing,” he said. “This is all your fault,” he added, addressing the brother who Cook had accompanied to the “Idol” audition that started it all.

Cook immediately took the microphone and began to sing “Time of my Life,” which won the annual Idol songwriting competition, to close out season seven.

Cook refused to bow to the conventional during his three-song set yesterday, with Collective Soul’s “The World I Know” as his pick for a closing performance. He also sang U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and the power ballad “Dream Big,” his choice from the songwriting competition’s finalists.

“If I had to choose between playing a song that not a whole lot of people know that I could get behind, or the opposite, I’ll choose the lesser-known every time,” Cook told the Associated Press backstage yesterday.

Judge Simon Cowell said at the time that the song choices sunk him, and told Archuleta that he’d scored a “knockout” performance in the boxing-themed performance finale.

Cook was unshaken, and now his choices are vindicated.

With a record 97.5 million audience votes cast by phone and text, the split between the two contestants was 56 percent for one David and 44 percent for the other, Seacrest announced at the start of the show.