LOS ANGELES — David Archuleta has rarely been seen without a giant smile on his face throughout season seven of "American Idol," but his biggest grin was reserved for after he came in second. Huh?

Backstage at the Nokia Theatre after the "Idol" finale Wednesday night (May 21), the 17-year-old from Murray, Utah, looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders as he excitedly laughed through questions about his "big brother" David Cook and sharing a stage with Bryan Adams.

(Read Jim Cantiello's live blog of the show in the MTV Newsroom.)

So where has this bubbly personality been hiding? Who knows? But it was unleashed in this chat:

Q: How does it feel for the season to be over?

A: It's a big relief. After last night, it's like, "Oh my gosh!" We're getting judged after each performance. Now it's like we get to do what we love to do without being viewed as a competition and judged right after singing. It's like, "Let me enjoy this for a second!"

Q: The judges seemed to be on your side Tuesday night. Were you thinking you would win?

A: No. I think both Paula and Randy were appreciative of what we did and all our hard work, and Simon, I'm glad he apologized to Cook, because I don't think anyone realizes how much work we put into this. It's not like we just learn the song the day before, like, "Oh, I think I'll sing this." So much work goes into it. We just want to be able to share what we love to do with everyone, and it's just a great feeling to be up on that stage.

Q: What was it like to be on "American Idol"?

A: I love singing and I love being able to perform whenever I get the chance. I just love what I do and what this competition has done for me. I just really appreciate it and all the fans who have allowed me to make it this far — I just can't believe I made it this far! I didn't think I'd make it past the first round, for Pete's sake! It feels like such a blessing.

Q: What did you learn from David Cook?

A: Cook, he's like my big brother. I've learned so much. I've looked up to him since the beginning of this, and he's just such a great guy, really humble and down-to-earth. I just feel like, "I can't believe I'm standing next to him!"

Q: What's next? Are you thinking about college, or will you make an album right away?

A: I just hope to see what happens. I really want to make an album and see how that turns out, and if music doesn't go as far as I was hoping it would, I still want to complete an education. School's really important, especially after all this ends. ... People can have a few years of touring, making money that way, but then they have to go back to something afterwards.

Q: What was it like to perform with Bryan Adams?

A: Oh, Bryan Adams! That was really cool! Bryan Adams has been someone I've always really enjoyed to listen to. I sang "Heaven" during Hollywood week. It's just really neat to be able to talk to him, hear what he had to say. He's such a nice guy. I couldn't believe just how normal he seemed.

What did you think of the finale? Head to YouRHere.MTV.com to upload your video reactions to Cook's big win, and check out what other "Idol" fanatics are saying!

Plus, you can 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.