Before being crowned the new king of American Idol, David Cook had many hurdles to jump over including criticisms from the judges.

When you’re in a singing competition of this magnitude, competitors have to deal with the stress of learning new songs each week in addition to critics nitpicking song choices, vocal talents and outfits.

Judge Simon Cowell was one of Cook’s toughest critics. He put Cook’s performances down numerous times and even called him cocky and pompous. However, Cook says he never let it get to him or change who he was.

“I went into this with kind of a different perspective from everybody else. I didn’t have any expectations as to what the show was going to do for me or what I was going to do for the show,” says Cook. “I just went into (it) as an opportunity to expose myself musically to a large audience. So my confidence level really never wavered and maybe that’s what got misinterpreted as cocky or arrogant.”

From day one, Cook understood the brevity of the situation but chose not to get wrapped up in it. For him the focus was on enjoying the experience.

Cook’s first album coming out of the Idol gate is going to feature a mixture of his own work as well as contributions from others. His priority is to release a solid and successful record.

“The ideal release date is as soon as possible if you’re asking me, but obviously these things take time,” says the 25-year-old former bartender from Blue Springs, Mo. “As far as the type of record, it’ll probably be a rock record, but I think that’s a pretty vague generalization. I just want to make a record that’s going to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”

As for fellow competitor, David Archuleta, Cook has only warm words.

“He’s just an amazing human being, so I was just honoured to share the stage with him.”

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