Kristy Lee Cook talks about her 'American Idol' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/18/2008
Kristy Lee Cook thinks she didn't even scrape the surface of wowing viewers with her country-style vocals.
"I know -- in the bottom of my heart -- that I haven't shown America and [Simon Cowell] what I have, and it's basically because I haven't been able to do the kind of music, the country," Cook told reporters during a Thursday conference call.
"I got to do 'God Bless the USA' and 'Anyway,' and those are two of the songs that I really like, and I got praised on both of them. And that's just what I'm comfortable with because I've never stepped out of that genre and done something else, so it was all new to me. But I know that once they see me singing country music, they'll see a whole other side of me that they never got to see on the show, which is kind of unfortunate because I would have loved to have shown them my country side and just gone out there and shown America and everybody what I really have. But, luckily, I get to do that on tour."
Fans will have to wait for the annual tour because the 24-year-old from Selma, OR was ousted from Idol's seventh season based on the "almost 36 million" home viewer votes that were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance broadcast that saw the Top 7 finalists sing Mariah Carey songs.
Despite the fact Cook feels she has more to show and was "shocked" by her elimination, she thinks Idol did provide her a big enough platform to succeed in the music industry moving forward.
"I think I showed myself enough to where I can do something with my career in country music," she said. "The show's about being versatile and being able to do other things out of your element, and you have to be able to be versatile, and I thought I did a pretty good job considering I had never done that kind of stuff before, so I was really happy to have that kind of opportunity to be able to expand my genres and try different things. It was very fun and very interesting."
Cook was one of several Idol seventh-season finalists with previous professional experience, signing with the label BMI as a 17-year-old -- which she told reporters was "definitely a long time ago."
"I needed this push to get my career back starting again because nobody knew who I was before American Idol," she said. So it was definitely the biggest push I could have ever done to get my career started. To be able to sing in front of that many people and in front of judges that you know are criticizing you, I think anybody that can sing in front of that, and to the remaining contestants, will be able to sing in front of anybody. It's a pretty amazing feeling."
Cook added that while some of the other finalists -- including David Cook, Carly Smithson, and Brooke White -- may have also had previous professional experience doesn't mean they should have been shunned by Idol.
"Everybody has some sort of music background, so it's kind of like, we weren't discovered before this whole thing, so this kind of like a second chance," she said. "And everybody, I believe, deserves a second chance, so it was a great opportunity for all of us."
Cook was also one of the first artist signed by Britney Spears' production company in 1999, but told reporters it's been a while since she's talked to the pop star.
"I actually haven't heard from her. It's been a long time since I've been in contact with her, but maybe one of these days we'll catch up again," she told reporters with a laugh.
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The performance that Cook was most praised for during her Idol run was "God Bless the USA." While Cook has been criticized for the song selection being a strategic move, she claims she and her sister "plotted our heads together and came up with that song."
"It wasn't like a huge thought process for me. It was the year I was born. It came out again, and my dad was in Vietnam, and he absolutely loved that song, and I just love that song, and I've sang it for a long time," she told reporters. "It just kind of hit me when I saw that [it was from the year I was born]. And my sister called me, and she was like, 'Well, you should do God Bless the USA.' It was done in that year. And then I was already thinking about it. And I was like, 'That's the one.' And so we kind of just stuck with that one. It was kind of an instant yes in my mind."
Cook was among the bottom three vote getters four out of her six weeks in the Top 12, and if that weren't bad enough, she was also frequently a whipping post for Cowell's sharp tongue.
"I believe that he was just being skeptical because I started out kind of weak," explained Cook about Cowell's constant criticism.
"I was struggling the first three weeks on being sick, and recovering took awhile. I think I outlasted what he thought because I started getting stronger towards the end, and I was getting in the comfort zone of some of the songs that I've been used to and that I've done for awhile. So I was starting to come out of the shell and sing the songs that I'm comfortable with and the ones that I knew that I could sing well. And he saw that a couple times, and unfortunately, it ended when I had to leave, but I thought my performance was pretty strong this past week, so I'm happy I went out on that note."
Prior to her ouster during Wednesday night's results show, Cook retaliated by calling Cowell a "butt."
"I was debating between brat and butt, but I figured I would just say butt. I don't know why," she said.
In addition, Cook sang the beginning of her exit performance on Wednesday night seated on the judges' table directly in front of Cowell.
"He said, 'Well, you made it awkward for me,'" Cook told reporters on Cowell's comments afterwards. "And I said, 'Well, now, you know what it's like to feel like us singing in front of you all the time.' And he just started laughing. It was kind of funny."
Cook also touched upon her comments to Cowell following her Top 11 performance of "Hey You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," in which she told him if given the chance she'd "blow you out of your socks."
"It really does take a lot to get me embarrassed. And I really wasn't embarrassed after it," said Cook, although she seemed embarrassed immediately after she said it.
"It's just my way of saying that I'm going to show you what I have. He didn't really get what I have, and I don't think he still does because I still have a lot more to give. But it's just my way of basically saying, 'Watch out because I'm going to show you what I have.'"
When pressed by reporters about how the comment could have sexual connotations if taken out of context, Cook quickly brushed off that notion.
"I don't look at it as that was being something bad to say just because I'm not that kind of person, but I just was saying I'm going to blow you off your socks, so I just thought it was appropriate," she said. "And I thought it was kind of funny, got everybody's attention."
Cook also got viewers' attention with her sob story of how she had to sell her horse in order to pay her way to her Idol audition. She reiterated her Wednesday night comments that the horse's new owner is unwilling to sell it back.
"I've talked to him a few times, and he doesn't want to sell. He doesn't want to sell him back," she told reporters. "He's really attached to him because he's such a good horse. But the least I could have asked for was a good home, and he got a really good home, so I'm happy with that, but it does kind of suck that I won't be able to get him back as my own horse."
Cook promised her fans she'll "put on a show" during Idol's upcoming tour before she has to do some planning for her wedding. Cook and her boyfriend Andy Dobner got engaged March 15, kept it secret, and he re-proposed following her ouster on Wednesday night.
She said she would "definitely" invite the judges to her wedding, and added she might even take the microphone.
"I've always wanted to sing at my own wedding, since I was little. I don't know why," she told reporters. "I've always had this thing about walking out singing, but I don't know if that'll happen or not, but I probably would sing a number at my wedding."