John, Paul, George, Ringo, And Cookie: “Idol” Winner Sets (And Sells) Records

May 30th, 2008 // 11 Comments

Ed. note: Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy, our resident chart guru, looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on this week’s Billboard charts:

As I look at this week’s charts, I recall a 1994 interview in which Paul McCartney assured the world that the highly anticipated, ultimately anticlimactic 1995 Beatles single “Free as a Bird” would have a “grungy” guitar sound.

As with so many things, Sir Paul was just ahead of his time–14 years later, one of the Fab Four’s most cherished chart records would be nearly equaled by a dude who can make anything, even “Eleanor Rigby,” sound like grunge.

That record is for most songs on the Billboard Hot 100 by a single act. It was set on April 11, 1964, by the Beatles, who were credited on 14 of that week’s 100 songs. The Fabs still hold this record, for now.

But thanks to a confluence of chart-tabulation quirks, this week a former bartender from Missouri–who until now had never appeared on any Billboard chart–comes close to tying it, placing 11 songs on the Hot 100 all at once. In so doing, David Cook sets a new, blowout record for most debuts, comes within spitting distance of the Fabs’ record, and generally makes the chart grungier than it’s been since Paul gave that interview.

Just how big a deal is the arrival of American Idol‘s Season 7 winner on the charts? It’s unprecedented on a number of levels, but many of the records it sets have to do with the way the charts are tabulated and in the way the Idol producers have chosen to release recordings this season. (The full list of best-selling tracks by Cook, along with those of his fellow Idol competitors, was run down by Maura yesterday.)

The most obvious impact is near the top of the Hot 100, where Cook’s finale song, “The Time of My Life,” debuts at No. 3. He’s behind Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” and Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” both of which have the advantage of months of radio airplay. Cook’s hit is nearly airplay-free (a few stations likely played it on their morning shows, as a news item), and his chart position is entirely the result of his sales haul at iTunes, where “Time/Life” sold more than 236,000 downloads in the four days after the confetti came down.

A No. 3 debut is not that impressive in the annals of Idol finalists charting their schlock-and-rainbows finale songs. All of the Idol winners have debuted at No. 1 or No. 2 with their debut singles (with the exception of Jordin Sparks, who suffered a pitiful No. 15 peak for “This Is My Now” last year thanks to a botched digital release). Also, 236,000 copies puts “Time/Life” in the middle of the pack: slightly ahead of the first week for Taylor Hicks’s “Do I Make You Proud” (228,000 copies, 2006), virtually tied with Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” (236,000, 2002) and a bit behind Ruben Studdard’s “Flying Without Wings” (286,000, 2003).

Where Cook leaves all of his peers in the dust is the number of times his name appears on the chart. His 11 total debuts nearly doubles the all-time Hot 100 record of six debuts, set in November 2006 by Miley Cyrus in the first flush of Hannah Montana fame. Here’s the full list of Cook’s debuts–numbers below are the Hot 100 rank:

3. “Time Of My Life”
15. “Dream Big”
22. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
28. “The World I Know”
42. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”
47. “Billie Jean”
67. “Always Be My Baby”
73. “Hello”
77. “The Music of the Night”
92. “Eleanor Rigby”
99. “I’m Alive”

Moreover, Cook’s raw sales total is staggering. No other Idol finalist has sold this many copies of anything in a single week: 942,000 downloads, adding up all 17 of his best-sellers. That total would even beat the best album sales weeks by the likes of Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. (Hell, it beats the entire cumulative sales of the Taylor Hicks album.)

Fourteen of Cook’s 17 tracks make Billboard‘s 75-position Hot Digital Songs chart–also a record on that four-year-old chart. (Full disclosure: SoundScan reports sales on up to 200 top downloads per week, so we have data on tracks that didn’t make the chart–hence, 17 songs tabulated.)

Just for perspective, the best sales week for any Idol finalist’s single came in 2003, when Clay Aiken’s debut hit, “This Is the Night,” sold 393,000 physical singles. Then again, Aiken, and every other finalist before 2008, had never had his or her entire Idol body of work released to the public before.

Basically, the chart records set this week are the fruit of a series of Idol firsts. It’s the first year of Fox’s and 19 Entertainment’s promotional partnership with Apple, which made every song performed by the finalists available for sale. (We can only imagine what Fantasia’s cover of “Summertime” would have sold the week after she performed it in 2004.) It’s the first time Idol has made the winner’s victory song available the same week it was performed; in the past there’s been a gap of at least three or four weeks.

And finally, this is the first week all year that Fox and 19 have allowed Apple to report the sales of Idol songs to SoundScan and Billboard. With the competition over, and the producers’ fears of tipping off the viewing public not an issue anymore, songs that have been selling in the tens of thousands for the last three months are suddenly allowed to chart. It’s as if a boiling kettle that was held down is suddenly released and spews everywhere: the 14 Idol-related songs on this week’s Hot 100–11 by Cook and three by runner-up David Archuleta–are a revue of the entire season.

Remember when Cook covered “Eleanor Rigby” during Beatles week or “I’m Alive” during Neil Diamond week? Well, someone did–each sold more than 25,000 downloads last week. (Cook’s “Day Tripper” sold pretty well, too: take that, McCartney!) We’ll never know how well these older recordings sold the first week they were performed on the show, but if this week is any indication, the totals have been staggering all season long. Also: this week’s results, while clearly affected by the final vote, refute anyone (like me) who suspected all season that girlyman Archuleta was the big seller; for all we know, Cook’s been thumping his fellow competitors all along. And finally, we have clear evidence that 2008 will not be a repeat of 2003, when the Idol winner (Studdard) was instantly and permanently outsold by his runner-up (Aiken).

Notwithstanding my Beatles quip at the top of this column, I doubt Cook will approach the Fabs’ record or look anywhere near this mighty next week, when probably half or more of his “hits” will drop off the chart.

Longer-term, what this week does augur is that future Idol winners will have one week a year to set ever-crazier chart records. In its first five seasons, the show produced one chart-topping single each year, most of them No. 1 debuts–a rarity in an age when Billboard policy makes chart-topping debuts exceedingly difficult. But by 2009 or 2010, when an Idol winner debuts with, say, 15 or 20 songs in a single week, all those previous successes will look like child’s play.

Here’s a rundown of the rest of this week’s charts:

• In addition to its Hot 100 reign, Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” is sitting pretty on top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In last week’s Billboard, a R&B/Hip-Hop chart sidebar noted that the gap in chart points between Nos. 1 and 2 on that list is the largest it’s been in a couple of years. That’s bad news for the runner-up single, Plies’ “Bust It Baby” with Ne-Yo, which holds at No. 2 after a big move into the runner-up slot last week. Plies’ song has a bullet this week, while Weezy loses his, but “Lollipop” has such a massive lead that Plies still has a long distance to travel to overtake it.

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs is essentially an airplay chart–digital sales are not a factor, and physical sales are negligible–and “Lollipop” seems to have overtaken black-radio playlists nationwide. Frankly, for a rap hit, “Lollipop” is so mellow and smooth (if lewd) that it’s probably palatable for some of the older-leaning, R&B-centric stations (your KISS-FM’s as opposed to your Hot 97′s) that make up a large chunk of the airplay base. Bottom line, even if “Lollipop” succumbs on the Hot 100 in the next couple of weeks, Weezy should be able to hold the penthouse on this chart well into June.

• Like my man Anthony, I’m almost ashamed to admit how seduced I am by Apple’s latest iPod/iTunes commercial starring EMI saviors Coldplay. (The editing and art direction are just unreal; man, this is why I bought an HDTV.) Apparently the rest of America’s been wooed, too: one week after it debuted on the tube, “Viva la Vida,” the track featured in the ad, does a total 180° on the Hot 100, swerving from No. 15 two weeks ago to No. 41 last week and back up to a new peak of No. 10. On iTunes, sales more than double to almost 140,000 copies, making it the third-best-seller of the week after Cook’s Idol track and Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.”

As tipped here two weeks ago, EMI and Coldplay continue to pursue a dual-track promotional strategy, hyping “Viva” via TV and pop radio and the (ahem) edgier “Violet Hill” to rock radio. The latter moved into the Modern Rock Top 10 last week and holds at No. 10 this week; “Violet”‘s digital sales are about one-fourth those for “Vida.”

• Note to my editor: you’re not gonna like this. Katy Perry’s kinda-evil “I Kissed a Girl” (why, Dr. Luke, why?!) is an emerging smash. In just three weeks on the Hot 100, it’s shot from No. 76 to No. 40 to No. 21. And unlike almost every other emerging hit we’ve discussed in this week’s column, Perry has radio on her side: “Kissed” debuts on Hot 100 airplay at, swear to God, No. 69. Besides being a groan-worthy double-entendre, that ranking means Perry is clearly on an upward trajectory, as she’s got both iTunes (82,000 downloads this week, the 13th biggest seller) and your local Top 40 crapmerchant working for her.

Ah, well–look on the bright side: maybe this means Perry is going to fill this summer’s tween slot, instead of Fergie.

Top 10s
Last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses (Digital Songs chart includes total downloads/percentage change in parentheses):

Hot 100
1. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 1, 11 weeks)
2. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (LW No. 1, 15 weeks)
3. David Cook, “The Time of My Life” (CHART DEBUT, 1 week)
4. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (LW No. 3, 7 weeks)
5. Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown, “No Air” (LW No. 5, 21 weeks)
6. Usher feat. Young Jeezy, “Love in This Club” (LW No. 4, 15 weeks)
7. Ray J & Yung Berg, “Sexy Can I” (LW No. 6, 17 weeks)
8. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake, “4 Minutes” (LW No. 7, 10 weeks)
9. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (LW No. 8, 15 weeks)
10. Coldplay, “Viva la Vida” (LW No. 41, 3 weeks)

Hot Digital Songs
1. David Cook, “The Time of My Life” (CHART DEBUT, 236,000 downloads)
2. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 3, 163,000 downloads, +16%)
3. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (LW No. 1, 144,000 downloads, -27%)
4. Coldplay, “Viva la Vida” (LW No. 14, 139,000 downloads, +149%)
5. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (LW No. 2, 122,000 downloads, -13%)
6. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (LW No. 4, 115,000 downloads, -12%)
7. David Cook, “Dream Big” (CHART DEBUT, 111,000 downloads)
8. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake, “4 Minutes” (LW No. 5, 98,000 downloads, -13%)
9. David Cook, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (CHART DEBUT, 98,000 downloads)
10. Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown, “No Air” (LW No. 7, 82,000 downloads, -5%)

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
1. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 1, 11 weeks)
2. Plies feat. Ne-Yo, “Bust It Baby (Part 2)” (LW No. 2, 13 weeks)
3. Keyshia Cole, “Heaven Sent” (LW No. 3, 9 weeks)
4. Chris Brown, “Take You Down” (LW No. 7, 9 weeks)
5. Usher feat. Young Jeezy, “Love in This Club” (LW No. 8, 16 weeks)
6. Ashanti, “The Way That I Love You” (LW No. 6, 15 weeks)
7. The-Dream, “I Luv Your Girl” (LW No. 12, 13 weeks)
8. Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown, “No Air” (LW No. 4, 12 weeks)
9. Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body” (LW No. 5, 16 weeks)
10. Usher feat. Beyonce and Lil Wayne, “Love in This Club, Part II” (LW No. 10, 5 weeks)

Hot Country Songs
1. Brad Paisley, “I’m Still a Guy” (LW No. 1, 14 weeks)
2. Phil Vassar, “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” (LW No. 2, 30 weeks)
3. James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” (LW No. 3, 32 weeks)
4. Rascal Flatts, “Every Day” (LW No. 4, 14 weeks)
5. Lady Antebellum, “Love Don’t Live Here” (LW No. 5, 34 weeks)
6. Kenny Chesney, “Better as a Memory” (LW No. 8, 10 weeks)
7. Carrie Underwood, “Last Name” (LW No. 7, 11 weeks)
8. Blake Shelton, “Home” (LW No. 11, 18 weeks)
9. Montgomery Gentry, “Back When I Knew It All” (LW No. 10, 14 weeks)
10. George Strait, “I Saw God Today” (LW No. 6, 16 weeks)

Hot Modern Rock Tracks
1. Weezer, “Pork & Beans” (LW No. 1, 6 weeks)
2. Seether, “Rise Above This” (LW No. 2, 14 weeks)
3. The Offspring, “Hammerhead” (LW No. 4, 3 weeks)
4. Flobots, “Handlebars” (LW No. 3, 8 weeks)
5. Linkin Park, “Given Up” (LW No. 5, 12 weeks)
6. Foo Fighters, “Let It Die” (LW No. 7, 8 weeks)
7. Nine Inch Nails, “Discipline” (LW No. 6, 5 weeks)
8. The Raconteurs, “Salute Your Solution” (LW No. 8, 9 weeks)
9. Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart” (LW No. 9, 10 weeks)
10. Coldplay, “Violet Hill” (LW No. 10, 4 weeks)

  1. Anonymous

    You often read of the decline in interest/ratings of Idol, and then you see this record-breaking chart week.

    I don’t believe ppl have lost interest in Idol at all, as is clearly indicated by these hundreds of thousands of purchases. What ppl ARE losing interest in is the banal shenanigans of Douchecrest and Paula Abdouche. Itunes is allowing people to just see and pay for just the performances they want.

    And for the record, that song “bust it baby” with the Janet Jackson sample is nothing short of an atrocity.

  2. Anonymous

    This is a terrific column – look forward to it every week.

  3. Chris N.

    Will this still be going on in 2010? Agh.

  4. Audif Jackson Winters III

    Very enjoyable, thanks Chris.

  5. Mary

    Glad to see I’ve finally backed a winner! Although they try to keep the numbers under wraps, and other AI fanboys and girls found some sort of workaround to determine how AI performance versions were selling compared to the iTunes general, and I remember that David Cook had #1 in iTunes overall some weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised that since Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah went to #1 on the chart, it may have actually been #2 to Castro’s. I think the numbers would be fascinating to see, and I can only imagine what a useful gauge of public option (who the viewers will spend $$ on, the only thing that counts) it provides to the producers. It also fits in with my dream AI, where the competition would be who could sell the most studio/live versions of their songs a week.

  6. Chris Molanphy

    @HONEYBFLY: You often read of the decline in interest/ratings of Idol, and then you see this record-breaking chart week. I don’t believe ppl have lost interest in Idol at all, as is clearly indicated by these hundreds of thousands of purchases.

    Thanks for your comments. Setting aside your quip about Paula et al., which I totally agree with: the sales we’re seeing this year prove nothing about the relative popularity of American Idol. The show is clearly less popular now than it was a couple of years ago, as evidenced by its lower TV ratings. (The finale episode this year did turn things around a bit.)

    To reiterate something I said above: this is the first year we’ve ever had this kind of instantaneous, iTunes-based feedback on the show. For all we know, the year that, say, Carrie Underwood won, if the iTunes had been as well-established in ’04 as it is now, and her “Inside Your Heaven” single had been made available there the same day she triumphed over Bo Bice, she might well have sold twice as many downloads as Cook just did. Or Fantasia with “I Believe,” or even Taylor Hicks with “Do I Make You Proud.” We can’t go back and extrapolate data like this. But if I were a betting man, I’d guess at least a couple of these previous winners could have outsold David Cook, if the same sales/availability conditions existed.

    Also, as mighty as Cook’s sales look this week, understand something else: TV draws more consumers than the music business, ever and for always, full stop. Ergo: any song that appears on a TV show, almost regardless of that show’s ratings, will have outsize results on the music charts. My favorite example — back in 1992, a song called “How Do You Talk to an Angel” by a fictional band called The Heights topped the Hot 100; it was the theme to a Fox-TV show that lasted only an episode or two before getting canceled. Think of it: a show that barely lasted two weeks on the air made enough of an impression on potential music consumers that it beat every other song charting back then. A flop TV show on a network draws a few million viewers; if just 5% of those flop-watchers buy a song based on that viewing, that’s a couple hundred thousand purchases–more than enough to top the charts most weeks.

    Bottom line, Idol‘s Nielsen ratings could sink to half what they are now, and its contestants would still score big hits, so long as they continue to be released in a timely fashion.

  7. Anonymous

    I’m posting this May 30, 2008, 9 days after the American Idol Grand Finale.

    I watched American Idol both nights of the grand finale waiting for the announcement of the winners name of the 2008 American Idol Songwriting Competition ……..
    and I’m still waiting.
    The following quote is from the only link American has concerning the songwriting contest. (It’s under the Show Guide Link ….American Idol Songwriter)

    “The Nation Has Decided”

    “Who Has Won? Tune in to the American Idol Finale on May 20th and 21st 2008
    to find out.” End quote.
    Like I said ….I watched. And here’s the only thing said about the winner.

    Ryan Seacrest ……”Ladies and gentlemen singing the winning song of this years competition …Time Of My Life ..this ..your .. American Idol ..David Cook, Goodnight.” End quote.

    9 days later American Idol has yet to name the winner. It’s not in the American Idol news section, not on the American Idol homepage …………..Nothing.

    Last year the winner’s were introduced on camera by Ryan Seacrest. This year nada.

    The following is from the Myspace blog page of the winner of the 2008 American Idol Songwriting Competition …Mr. Regie Hamm …and he doesn’t seem that happy.


    “The guy in the feather suit who wrote the song for Simon had his own photo stand where you could have your picture taken with him. Hmmmm, maybe next time I’ll write a song so campy it simply must be performed in front of fifty million people with the USC marching band. At least then I might have my name mentioned or my face shown …but I digress.” End quote.

    American Idol made a lot of money off this contest and the ONLY thing we got in return was a thanks for the $10.00 email.

    P.S. I dare you to sign up for the American Idol Forums (Songwriting) and post a question or comment about this and see how long it takes till the forum moderators delete it.
    Don’t worry you won’t have to wait long.

  8. Anonymous

    What the beatles did – thru complete radio airplay domination…and
    “go to the store” and buy..sales is truly incredible…plus hold all
    the top 5…..Cook, is not heard on radio…no domination…and no “go
    to” sales…After weeks and weeks of in your face TV by Amer Idol, now
    worldwide just pushbutton spur of the moment on a whim
    downloads ….BIG BiG difference and advantage to cook and any current
    artist. Very stupid comparison….Mariah by the way also has
    benifeted the same in recent years…I often had to wait weeks for a
    ride to the store to buy a record I wanted…..and it would count as 1
    sale for an artist… daughter downloads stuff like cook on a
    whim, spur of the moment, listens one or two times than its lost with
    the other 1000 plus songs she’s heard once or twice on her
    ipod…….with the exception of one or two……..idols…they all
    sell online like crazy…than kinda go away…whats new.


  9. Anonymous

    To Chris:

    Excellent article, but I think there are a few points you’ve missed which I think dramatically underscore how wildly popular David Cook actually is (and why this record is not merely the result of an American Idol/Itunes manipulation to garner the most sales possible in one week.

    You are quite likely correct that previous Idol winners (like Carrie Underwood’s ‘Inside Your Heaven’) might very well have outsold David Cook’s ‘Time of My Life’ if the previous Idol songs had been released in the same way in conjunction with Itunes. After all, ‘Time of My Life’ is the ‘Magic Rainbow’ song, and not very good on it’s own merit (though Cook’s version is growing on me – more proof of how brilliant he is as an artist).

    But the real story here isn’t the coronation song (which David Cook had very little real control over, and which in and of itself is not reflective of even his normal genre of music, much less his popularity).

    The real story lies in the sales figures for all his previous singles. After all, they were yanked from Itunes on Wednesday after the winner was announced. With the sole exception of ‘Time of My Life’ and the three songs he performed in the finale (‘Dream Big’, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, and ‘The World I Know’) all of his prior singles are no longer available for purchase. That means they were only available for 3 days (!) last week and yet amazingly, even though they were older singles that had been available for purchase for weeks and weeks, these songs were so heavily purchased by consumers that most of them managed to land somewhere on the top 100 – and all of his singles placed somewhere on the top 125.

    I’m not knocking the sales of the four singles that are still available – they too produced amazing sales numbers for only being available for purchase from Wednesday night through the end of the week. But for his prior singles to have such staggeringly high sales numbers (‘Hello’ was from week 3 of the contest – months ago!)

    This indicates a level of hunger for David Cook’s music that I believe makes him unprecedented among American Idol alumni. To compare apples to apples, if all of the songs Carrie Underwood sang during her time on American Idol had been available for purchase and download on Itunes I strongly doubt that they would have sold in anywhere near the amounts that David Cook has sold. I doubt few if any of them, if released the same way as Cook’s have been, would have even placed on the top 100 Billboard chart. I remember she did well at a Heart song, but that’s all that stands out in my memory. In ten years people will still remember Cook’s ‘Hello’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Always Be My Baby’, ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, etc. So would past Idol winners outsell Cook with their coronation songs? I strongly suspect it. But would their entire body of work over the course of the show outsell David Cook? No way, no how. No contestant I can think of would sell anywhere near as strongly, especially with songs that were released months before.

  10. Hamm Beerger

    I doubt few if any of them, if released the same way as Cook’s have been, would have even placed on the top 100 Billboard chart.

    You’re so totally wrong. Carrie underwood was a massively popular performer back when the show was really popular.

    @SimonSays76: Wasn’t it you with the crazy conspiracy-theorist rants about how the songwriter competition was fixed and stuffed with professionals? If the competition wasn’t legitimate then why do you care who won, or how the winner was announced?

  11. Anonymous

    6-28-08 (FYI)

    I agree with IgnatiusPartridge–not only that it was a good article, but that many of the author’s suppositions discount one defining quotient, the full power of which, as yet, remains unknown.

    IMHO, the same chart blasting records will only happen next year if AI manages to get lucky enough to have lightning strike twice. I suppose they have a chance at finding someone as talented, unique, and star-kissed as David Cook–if more semi-pros bite back their egos and enter that ‘hokey show’–and their singles could easily sell well at season’s end. But I think Archuletta’s 3 hits are more in line with what you might see in that case. I mean, Young David is damned good, and he has a huge following. No telethons for that kid, no way. But he had three hits…while Cook had ELEVEN! Plus, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th examples on your list were only nuggets–amazing that people would even download for a minute-30 worth of song.

    Also, on weeks where the contestants sang more than one song (they only picked one to record for ITunes), how many *more* hits would David Cook have had if the show had studio-recorded his second song in its entirety…or even the third? People couldn’t get enough of David Cook. Question is: why?

    I’ve thought about this a lot lately, why–over a month later–I find myself Googling ‘David Cook’ to see what’s up with him. And what does this curious fascination mean for his future numbers, if I’m not alone in my obsession (which I don’t think I am)?

    This is the third year I’ve watched American Idol from bloody beginning to ragged end, and I can say in all honestly, I’ve NEVER called in to vote before this year. Never. Sure, I watched, made my guesses on who would/should win, but I never felt strongly enough to actually pick up the phone and interject myself into the process. I left that to others, grumbling when I didn’t agree with ‘America’ and her choices (I mean, come on, we all know how crazy America is).

    But this year…uh, yeah…I cared. In fact, I cared so much, I stayed glued to the television each week without fail, waiting to see what magic that ballsy, soul-patched guitar nerd would pull out of his ass next. My God, he was good. Fantastic. Mesmerizing. And when he sang, it seemed more to the audience and the camera than the judges (IMHO). Like he cared more what we thought than what they thought. Each week Cook just got better and better. He says he never thought he would get very far, that he figured he would just get as much exposure as possible before being voted off. But as the weeks went by and he did so well, you could almost see his amazement build, see his hopes amp-up along with his performances. Around the time of ‘Billie Jean’ it became obvious he wanted to win–and I began to want it FOR him.

    By the finale, Cook could have sat on stage with a teddy bear, sucked his thumb and hummed Mary Had A Little Lamb, and I STILL would have voted for him for four hours (aside: Simon Cowell is a lousy actor). To my mind, he was the winner. He’d earned it. The wonderful performances he gave that night were just cake.

    This takes nothing from Archuletta; he’s creepy good, and I have no doubt he will succeed. This isn’t about David Archuletta. It’s about David Cook…and his unseen, unknown, won-over fans out in the nebulous fringes of TV Land. For me, it also has nothing to do with the ‘Cougar’ vote (underestimate THAT lil measure of popularity at your own risk). I have no desire to jump his 25 yr-old bones, nor do I fantasize about him. Sheesh, he is my daughter’s age. LOL

    It’s more like an investment. For 24 weeks I watched David Cook bloom, watched him struggle, grow/change/evolve, risk, sweat, yearn. Consequently, I feel instrumental in his win. I care about his experiences and eagerly await his album–which I will definitely buy. I’ve also never bought an AI album before; another first to add to the list.

    So, even though the process has hit a lull, this phenomenon isn’t over yet, and Billboard hasn’t seen anywhere NEAR the last of David Cook. Fact is, hundreds-of-thousands of people downloaded his cover songs because they couldn’t get enough of him–and that’s all they *could* get. What will happen when he has a CD out? With just a name and a picture, David Cook’s CD was #1 (pre-order) on Amazon a week after the show ended.

    Today, it’s still #74. Not bad for something that doesn’t exist yet. That’s PRE-order. Cook’s popularity on the charts hasn’t even been scratched yet. One thing’s for sure. It will be fascinating to watch.

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