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LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - It's the first time songs performed on "American Idol" have been made available for immediate download on iTunes -- and the audience's ability to make an instant-gratification purchase has paid off handsomely for winner David Cook.
Cook's "The Time of My Life," first performed during the "American Idol" results show May 21, has since tallied 236,000 downloads, making it No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart and helping to land it the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
In fact, Cook has 14 songs from the "American Idol" season on Hot Digital Songs, with "Dream Big" at No. 7 with 110,000 downloads and his version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" at No. 9 with 98,000 downloads. All told, Cook sold 888,000 downloads of his songs in one week.
It has been a similar whirlwind for Cook since his win, as he shuttles between press appointments and photo shoots. He's discovering that being the star of the country's biggest reality show -- 31.7 million people watched the finale on Fox -- sometimes has its surreal moments.
"I loved my time on the show, but I've been looking forward to just being able to get back to the creative process of writing and recording," he says. "It's going to be interesting to be able to play a song and not have to wonder where 'camera A' is."
For most of June, Cook will focus on rehearsals for the American Idols Live tour, which features the top 10 finalists and runs for almost three months. The trek begins July 1 in Glendale, Arizona, and wraps September 13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"It's going to be more of a mini-concert for everybody," he says. "There will be some group numbers (and) some duets, but for the most part I think everybody gets to do at least three songs. I've always loved the idea of waking up in a different city every day, so to be able to do that on this kind of scale is going to be an experience."
And then, after the tour, comes the transition period from day-in and day-out "American Idol" mania to establishing a voice as a musician separate from the show.
"I lucked out in this whole scenario because I knew going in what kind of artist I wanted to be and what kind of writer I was," says Cook, whose 19 Recordings/RCA debut is due in the fall.
"I don't see myself straying too far from what I was doing before, which is kind of a rock vibe with some catchy pop choruses. The cool thing now is that I don't have to worry about taking shortcuts. I have the resources to put together a record that I'm going to be proud of, I hope, for the rest of my life."