Amid deafening applause, David Cook was crowned the seventh "American Idol" tonight (May 21) at Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre. The 25-year-old Blue Springs, Mo., native earned 56% of the record 97.5 million votes cast at last night's performance finale, defeating 17-year-old David Archuleta on the Fox TV series.
As the credits rolled, Cook, who was a bartender before auditioning for "Idol," sang "Time of My Life," which won the the show's songwriting competition. He cried as host Ryan Seacrest announced his victory, proclaiming, "I am absolutely at a loss for words right now."
The night was also chock full of musical and comedic performances. Third-place finalist Syesha Mercado performed alongside Seal, while Cook played guitar and sang with ZZ Top on "Sharp Dressed Man." Graham Nash and fourth-place singer Brooke White strummed together on "Teach Your Children." Former "Idol" finalists, including Carrie Underwood and last year's winner Jordin Sparks, also made appearances.
Donna Summer danced and sang with the top six ladies -- Mercado, Carly Smithson, White, Kristy Lee Cook, Amanda Overmeyer and Ramiele Malubay -- while Bryan Adams sang a few songs with the top six men -- Jason Castro, Michael Johns, the Davids plus David Hernandez and Chikezie. The top 10 will be touring together this summer as part of American Idols Live.
Castro reprised his popular performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as interpreted by Jeff Buckley, while Smithson and Johns -- who were voted off surprisingly early in the competition -- dueted on "The Letter." Many music numbers were enhanced by the contestants from "So You Think You Can Dance."