David Cook was the surprise winner of the seventh season of American Idol, beating runner-up David Archuleta by a resounding 12 million votes. Because of his innocence and appeal to âtween and teen girls, crooner Archuleta was favored to win the 2008 contest. But the innovative and versatile rocker Cook prevailed. Clearly influenced by Soundgarten's Chris Connell, Cook complemented his grunge-inspired vocals by accompanying himself on both electric and acoustic guitar on several occasions throughout the contest. He won wide praise for his interpretation of Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Cook started singing in second grade and playing guitar at age 12. He grew up in Blue Springs, Missouri, and graduated in 2006 from University of Central Missouri as a graphic design major. From 1999 to 2006, he was the lead singer and guitarist for Axium. He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, after college, where he bartended and played guitar and bass and sang backup for the Midwest Kings.