For months, "American Idol" viewers knew it was coming: the showdown of the Davids — Cook vs. Archuleta. It was so obvious that even the show's producers caught on, dressing the two finalists up in boxing robes and having Michael Buffer (he of "Let's get ready to rrruuummble!" fame) introduce them on the season's final performance night.
So to say that Cook and Archuleta have become intrinsically linked to each other is an understatement on par with Amanda Overmyer's dye job. And for the foreseeable future — or until the next season of "American Idol" kicks off — they're probably going to stay that way. That's probably why both of them stopped by "TRL" on Tuesday (May 27), to chat about their past, their present and their (very bright) future.
"Everything has kind of culminated in this experience," Cook, who was crowned "Idol" champ by more than 12 million votes last week, said. "I started doing music in second grade — you know, singing and doing the plays and the talent shows — and then fell into a band at 15 and really never looked back. I gave myself every opportunity to not do this. I did sports. I went to college and studied graphic design. I did all that, and music kept kind of pushing itself into my life. So finally, I made it a priority and moved to Tulsa and put out a record, and then 'Idol' happened ... and ever since then it's been kind of a whirlwind, and I haven't stopped."
Archuleta, meanwhile, is young enough that "Idol" has actually influenced him musically. "I think on the show, people saw a lot of my mature sound, but I was — and I'm still — a kid, a teenager who likes listening to the radio," he explained, "and a lot of these songs, like [John Lennon's] 'Imagine,' I heard it first on 'Idol,' when Jennifer Hudson sang it. So for me, just making it to the finale — just making it that far — and to have people think I deserved to be there, that was just really neat for me."
And while both came into the competition bright-eyed and awestruck, Cook and Archuleta quickly emerged as the two to beat on "Idol," though neither claims to have realized that at any point during the show. After all, they were too busy to notice much of anything.
"I didn't really have a plan on the show. I mean, I kind of fell backwards into it to start, and then I tried to maintain this mindset that I didn't have any expectations throughout the show," Cook said. "But each week was work, you know? 'Idol' definitely is a boot camp. It's the only school in the country to go to learn how to do this kind of stuff on the fly. ... But it was a little unnerving at the beginning of every week to have to wonder about how you were gonna get torn down."
"We were always in the CBS Studios rehearsing, or, for me, in school or minding my own business," Archuleta said. "It's kind of like going through a tunnel. ... You're all by yourself in there, only it's a one-way mirror and people can see you in the tunnel, and then you come out the other side and everyone's asking for your autograph."
Now that they're famous, where do they go from here? Well, not surprisingly, both seem determined to build on what audiences saw from them on "Idol." And as both point out, there's still plenty that fans haven't seen yet. (For one, their personalities may actually be completely different from the way they appeared on TV, as MTV's Jim Cantiello discovered after the finale.)
"I really wanted to do a Journey song all season, but we just ran into a bunch of issues with trying to get it cleared. But I really lucked out [for the majority of the season], because a lot of the songs I wanted to do were songs that cleared, so I was able to map my way through it the way that I intended," Cook said. "But I'd be lying if I said I had planned this far in advance. I mean, standing onstage after the judges' comments last Tuesday, I had kind of resigned myself to second. So to be here now is a lot of things. Mainly absurd."
"I just want my music to have more meaning. ... That's the important thing to me," Archuleta said. "Because if it's just 'Doo-doo-doo-dumb,' then I don't feel a connection to it. So, whatever I do, it'll be something I have that connection to — lyrically and musically."
The show may be over, but you can still get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions. And relive six seasons of "Idol" hot messes and high notes in six minutes with our video timeline.