David Cook wins American Idol 7 by 12 million votes

David won American Idol 7, after receiving 56 percent of the 97.5 million votes cast Tuesday night. David Archuleta lost by a surprisingly large margin of 12 million votes, despite the judges’ relentless praise Tuesday night. That gap seems to be too big to be attributable to one factor, such as backlash against the judges or the fewer numbers of young women watching, and may just have to do with all of those things combined, in addition to David Cook’s talent.

In the final moments, Simon Cowell apologized to David Cook, which worked well to save face since David Cook won, although if he’d lost, it would have been too little, too late. “Wasn’t quite so clear cut as we called, and David, I will take this opportunity to apologize, because I think I was verging on disrespectful with you, and I don’t think you deserve that,” Simon said. He also added, “For the first time ever, I don’t really care who wins; I think you’ve both done terrific.”

David Cook sung the songwriting contest winner, “Time of My Life,” in the final moments, and it’s good they saved it to wrap up the whole season, because it sucked just like this season, although its suckiness was no fault of David’s. Its writer, Regie Hamm, told USA TODAY that it’s “a midtempo anthem, no surprises. (Fans) can wave their arms and light their lighters, all that cool stuff. We’ve all heard those finale songs, so you know the parameters and almost by osmosis what the moment is all about.” Yes, it’s about another weak original song.

Despite wasting two hours, the show still couldn’t come in on time. Ryan Seacrest literally announced the winner exactly at 10:00:00 p.m. on the east coast. Here’s all of the super-important stuff the show needed to do before announcing the winner. Hour one included a top-12 group number; product placement for Mike Myers’ new movie; Syesha’s performance with Seal; a Jason Castro performance; the final unwatchable Ford ad of the season; product placement for the Ford Escape Hybrids that each David receives; the top six women performed with Donna Summer, who needed two guys to help her walk down the stairs; a Carly Smithson and Michael Johns performance; Jimmy Kimmel’s return to roast the show, calling it “karaoke” and saying Ryan has “Lee press-on nails”; Simon Cowell’s insults set to music (“Pop Goes the Weasel”); a performance by the top six men with Bryan Adams; Jordin Sparks pimps for the American Idol Experience attraction at Walt Disney World; and David Cook’s performance with ZZ Top.

In hour two, Brooke White performed with Graham Nash; the Jonas Brothers performed (and by that, I mean lip-synced badly–do they have any talent except looking pretty?); Ryan Seacrest brought a little old lady clutching her purse to the stage to introduce a segment featuring the worst singers from the auditions; one of those awful singers returned; One Republic performed “Apologize” and was joined by David Archuleta, apparently to prove how inferior he is to Ryan Tedder; Jordin Sparks performed; we saw 1972 footage of Gladys Knight digitally manipulated to include Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. as alleged Pips, and it went on much longer than it should have; Carrie Underwood performed; the top 12 performed again; and George Michael performed and made Paula Abdul cry (then again, what doesn’t make her cry?). Oh, then Ryan Seacrest announced which David won.

During the most egregious product placement, the two Davids went to watch The Love Guru, which is rated PG-13 for its “crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references.” David Archuleta watched that but wouldn’t sing Neil Diamond lyrics? Shocking. Myers showed up to pimp his awful-looking new movie and quasi-roast the two finalists, but didn’t even appear to be in the same room with the two Davids as he read his lines off a teleprompter. He told Archuleta, “soon, you’ll have hair in weird and wonderful places.” David Archuleta may have lost, but at least he got his pubic hair referenced by Mike Myers on the most popular show on television, and not many people can say that.

‘Time’ is now for American Idol Songwriter winner [USA TODAY]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.