LOS ANGELES — LaKisha Jones, Bobby Bennett and AJ Gil might not be household names anymore, but in "American Idol" land, they're still mega-stars.
Hundreds of fans lined up along the "Idol" finale red carpet outside the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday night (May 21) just to catch a glimpse of these onetime "Idol" contenders, who garnered just as big a response as classic-rock legends ZZ Top and chart-topping rockers OneRepublic (both of whom took the stage for the big David vs. David showdown).
OneRepublic were in London when their management informed the guys they'd be hitting the "Idol" stage. "We got a call right before we came back to the States, saying, 'You're not going to believe this, but you're playing the "American Idol" finale,' and I was like, 'Really? Why?' " frontman Ryan Tedder laughed. The guys cited Blake Lewis as their favorite past "Idol" hopeful, but there's someone else they'd really like to sing their biggest hit, "Apologize." "If anybody could sing it, I'd say Simon Cowell," Tedder suggested.
The song's title might be eerily appropriate for the cranky British judge, who admitted that he might have been a bit harsh on David Cook during Tuesday's performance show. "Having watched it back, I wouldn't be surprised if the other wins. I've just got a feeling we may be in for a bit of an upset," Cowell admitted before the show — and apparently America agreed, making Cook the season-seven champ.
Simon wasn't the only one on the red carpet reflecting on the past: The big topic of the night for ex-"Idol" contestants was the fact that this season's singers were allowed to play instruments. So how would that have changed their experiences?
"I think Chris Sligh would have gone a lot further," season-six rocker grrrl Gina Glocksen said, adding that Jordin Sparks wouldn't have been last season's champ.
"I don't know about that," Sligh responded to his fellow season-sixer's compliment. "But that was very nice of her! ... I had begged Nigel to let me play instruments last year. I don't look like a rock star, but, man, you put a guitar in my hand, and I look more like a rock star."
"I cannot play an instrument," season-six finalist Melinda Doolittle said. "They would not have wanted to hear me to do it, so I still would have been singing like I sang!"
While some "Idol" contenders say they've moved on from the show ("I had my time, and it's up!" season-six diva Jones laughed), Haley Scarnato admits that she still has flashbacks to her up-and-down experience. "It's hard for me to get past the theme song. It just gives me a stomachache," said the brunette, who showed off her trademark legs on the red carpet with an ultra-mini satin dress. "The butterflies go crazy!"
But Wednesday's butterflies were reserved for David Cook and David Archuleta, who got the loudest screams of the night as they made their way down the carpet. Cook will join a fraternity of former champs, including Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard and Jordin Sparks, who all came out for the finale and exchanged hugs as they passed.
Season-three finalist LaToya London can definitely attest to the tight-knit crew known as "AI" alumni. "It's like a high school reunion!" she said of the night.
What did you think of the finale? Head to YouRHere.MTV.com to upload your video reactions after the big night and check out what other "Idol" fanatics are saying!
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