In some roundabout way, it's entirely possible that David Cook might not have won the seventh season of "American Idol" if it weren't for Michael Jackson.

See, it was his edgy take on "Billie Jean" — which was, for accuracy's sake, actually a take on Chris Cornell's version on the song — during the sixth week of the competition that took Cook from underdog to frontrunner, eventually carrying him to the "Idol" crown, a platinum-plus debut album and millions of fans around the world.

So, naturally, when he learned of the death of Jackson, he felt the need to pay respects to the man — and not just for his excellent songbook, either.

"The impact Michael Jackson has had on me as an artist is the same impact he's had on everyone ... he blew pop music wide open, and made it bigger than just music, you know?" Cook told MTV News. "That's viewed [in terms of] the short films he made for music videos, plus look at the cultural gaps: There's people that know no English except for the two words 'Michael' and 'Jackson.' And that's pretty incredible."

And that global reach is what astonishes Cook the most about Jackson. He credits the King of Pop for taking mainstream music to the mega masses ... and paving the way for all pop stars who have followed since. Without Jackson, there would be no Britney, no Beyoncé — no David Cook.

"To think that Michael Jackson as more influence on the world than presidents and world leaders, that's huge," he said. "And the fact that he was able to do that, I think, is what allows people like me to go out and perform music and have it matter in some small sense, I guess."

For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."

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