David Cook Wins the Seventh Season of 'American Idol'

Cook originally did not plan to try out for the show.

He came to the auditions initially to support his younger brother (who did not make it to Hollywood) and then, at his mother's and brother's urging, David tried out himself. Cook auditioned for American Idol in Nebraska, performing Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer." For his first Hollywood audition, Cook performed "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. On the second song in Hollywood, he sang "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain. Cook took advantage of the decision to allow contestants to play musical instruments. Besides his Hollywood audition, he also accompanied himself on electric guitar for his performances of "All Right Now", "Hello", "Day Tripper", "I'm Alive", "Baba O'Riley", "Dare You to Move", and "Dream Big", and on acoustic guitar for "Little Sparrow", "All I Really Need Is You", and "The World I Know". His white, left-handed Gibson Les Paul electric guitar has the letters "AC" on it; as Cook told TV Guide, "I have two brothers, Adam and Andrew. So, because of superstition, I put their initials on everything growing up." Since the Top 12 week, he also wore (and continues to wear) an orange wristband to support a 7-year-old fan, Lindsey Rose, with leukemia.

Another of Cook's performances, The Beatles' "Day Tripper", was credited to Whitesnake. Seattle-based band Doxology has claimed that Cook's performance of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" was based on a version the band recorded over a year ago. On April 1, before performing his self-arranged rendition of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" on American Idol, Cook responded to Ryan Seacrest in the interview session, revealing that his performance of "Eleanor Rigby" was based on Neil Zaza's and Doxology's versions. He also reiterated the credits of Whitesnake and Chris Cornell. Despite the controversy, critics praised Cook for choosing versions of songs that fit his vocal style. Cook's arrangements of "Hello", "Little Sparrow", "Always Be My Baby", "All I Really Need Is You", "Baba O'Riley", "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" were original arrangements.

Cook won the seventh season of American Idol on May 21, 2008, receiving 56 percent of the votes, with 12 million votes over David Archuleta, the runner-up. Cook then sang "The Time of My Life", the winning song of the 2008 American Idol Songwriter's Competition. In the final tally, Archuleta received 44 percent of the votes. During the final show, identical commercials featuring Cook and fellow finalist Archuleta mimicked the Tom Cruise scene from Risky Business where he dances in his underwear playing an air guitar; they were promoting the game franchise Guitar Hero.