With a new single, “Airborne Ranger Infantry," inspired by her father's experience in the Vietnam War, season seven finalist Kristy Lee Cook discussed Keith Urban joining 'Idol', Simon Cowell and more.
What is your take on a very different kind of war: the American Idol drama between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey?
Cook: We all know television can be a little overdone. People like drama and that’s what sells. I have never seen Mariah not get along with anybody. I don’t know much about Nicki Minaj, but Mariah is a very sweet person, so I think a lot of it is for show. A lot of people said Paula Abdul was crazy, but Paula was the nicest one there. She was the only one that came up to us and offered support and she was very sweet. A lot of it may be for show, but you never know what is going on behind the scenes.
How was your experience different than what these kids are now going through?
Cook: A lot has changed every year. They seem to be letting them do more of their style of music and not something that they are not. You say you’re country? Ok, sing Mariah! (laughs). It’s a singing competition. You can’t sing against someone that is comfortable in pop and you’re a country artist. You have to compete in your genre. You can’t play baseball and have a full ride in center field and go play first base. I think they are letting them do more of what they should do as an artist rather than what they want them to do as an artist. Then they’ll throw in some curveballs doing different stuff to see if they can learn it and make it their own, but they are letting them be artists now, which is what I like.
How do you feel about Keith Urban joining the panel?
Cook: I am so happy that he is there. He is a very good singer and knows what he’s talking about. He writes music, he plays music, he sings music and is an artist. That was not the same for Simon Cowell. He is not an artist. He doesn’t know anything about being on stage singing in front of thousands of people. It’s a lot different looking at it from a singer’s standpoint.
Speaking of Simon, have you checked out X Factor yet?
Cook: I wouldn’t tune in to see Simon! [Laughs] He wasn’t very fair to me [on American Idol] because he doesn’t like country artists. One of the things that made me very mad with him, is when I was eliminated off the show, I saw him backstage and he came up to me and said, "I had you picked to be in the title this year.” So he basically saw me in the top two. And I said "I never would have guessed that. All I knew was you hated me." Maybe if he would have said something nice, like I think you are a good contender or something, I might have had a chance. He is who he is. I would tune in to see Britney [Spears], though.