By Michael Slezak
June 01, 2006 at 09:59 PM EDT

Things got eerily quiet around 3 p.m. yesterday at PopWatch HQ, unless, of course, you happened to be in the vicinity of the conference room. That’s where a few dozen Entertainment Weekly staffers gathered to catch a glimpse of newly crowned (and recently signed) American Idol champ Taylor Hicks, lookin’ spiffy in navy pinstripe jacket and blue oxford, and of course, to try to squeeze a few last drops of season 5 dish from his weary bones. Here are our top three scoops:

Those catchphrases: “The third week I was in the top 24 or something, somebody shot me an email of a drinking game. And [the rules were]: If I say ‘Soul Patrol,’ you’ve got to drink once. If I say ‘Woo!’, you’ve got to drink five times. And if [Simon] Cowell gives me a good remark, you’ve got to drink the whole bottle.”

His perceived “underdog” status: “I think ‘Simon Scowl’ helped that out with some of his off-color remarks. [After the show], we actually got to shake hands, and we had a smile, and that was it. On with the next part of my career.”

Under the Radar, Hicks’ previous indie disc: “I could sell a few right now, to be honest with you. I’d like to. Actually, I’ve got a bookbag full of ’em at the hotel room. And you know what, I’m still gonna peddle CDs. Once you start doing something for so long you don’t stop… I’m still like that. You have to be. As a struggling musician, you’re just scrounging for every little penny that you can get.”

addCredit(“Taylor Hicks: Connie Yu”)

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