Kristy Lee Cook’s American Idol run was marked by a number of stays in the bottom three and, as it turns out, a secret engagement.
Cook’s boyfriend popped the question in the sauna of her Idol apartment on March 15, days after she survived her first elimination round as a finalist.
The country-inclined singer was able to share this detail with reporters Thursday because she did not survive Idol‘s latest elimination round Wednesday night.
After an especially Byzantine results show, Cook, 24, was revealed to be the odd singer out, exiting in Mariah Carey week with the inaptly titled “Forever.”
“I was kind of upset that I went home because I thought I was getting stronger and stronger,” Cook said. “I thought [“Forever”] was my best performance so far. I thought I had at least another week in me.”
Cook said her goal was to make the top five. In the end, she finished seventh.
No stranger to the bottom three—she was there four out of the last six weeks—Cook “built up a stamina for it.” And so when host Ryan Seacrest divided the finalists into curious groups Wednesday night, Cook wasn’t fazed, even if Carly Smithson was.
Smithson, Cook said, was convinced that Cook’s group—she was sent to stand next to her nonrelation David Cook—was the safe group. “They’re going to do something that’s so off the wall,” Cook said she advised the nonbelievers.
Cook was right. David Cook, the show’s emotional favorite, was sent to safety—and to Smithson’s group. Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White and Syesha Mercado ultimately comprised the unsafe group.
Cook took the opportunity of her exit to sing her swan song right in the face of her chief critic, judge Simon Cowell.
” ‘Well, you made it awkward for me,’ ” Cook said Cowell told her. “And I said, ‘Well, now you know how you make it for all of us.’ ”
Of Cowell, Cook said, “He didn’t really get what I have. I still don’t think he does.”
On a happier note Wednesday night, Cook’s boyfriend, whom she identified only as Andy, reproposed on the Idol set, dropping to his knee—a move he didn’t do the first time out in the sauna. “He owed it to me,” she said.
Cook didn’t talk about her engagement earlier because of all the Idol-related madness that goes with being a finalist. “The first time we tried to keep everything on the down-low,” she said.
There’s no wedding date yet, although Cook guessed she might walk down the aisle in June 2009. And she more than guessed that she might invite the Idol judges, Cowell included.
“Oh, yes, of course I would,” Cook said. “I definitely would.”
- Conventional wisdom had it that Cook saved her endangered bacon a couple of weeks ago when performed the critic-proof “God Bless the U.S.A.” But Cook denied working any angles. “It wasn’t like a huge thought process,” she said of the song selection. “My dad was in Vietnam. He absolutely loved that song. I’ve loved that song, and sang it for a long time.”
- Cook’s eviction means the Vote for the Worst has lost its latest champion. (Prior to Cook, the Idol-vexing site had stumped for Amanda Overmyer, Danny Noriega and Amy Davis). At last check Thursday, Vote for the Worst had not settled on its next new anti-hero.
- First Madonna, then Kristy Lee Cook. It could have been. Had Cook survived to sing on next week’s Andrew Lloyd Webber recital, she said she would have performed Evita‘s “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”
- No novice, Cook had a major label record deal when she was 17. But her album never came out, and Cook said she didn’t regret putting herself through the Idol cattle call. “My career was a long time ago,” she said. “And I needed this to get my career started again.”
- Once upon a time, Cook was signed by Britney Spears‘ production company. If Cook’s former boss was keeping tabs on her former protégé’s Idol run, she didn’t make it known. “I actually haven’t heard from her,” Cook said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contact with her.”
- On Wednesday’s show, Cook called Cowell “kind of a butt.” Her statement was the product of due deliberation. Said Cook: “I was debating brat and butt