You’d think Chris Daughtry would get some major flack for the comment he made to Rolling Stone last month, claiming that American Idol is in a “state of decline,” but the Idol alum says his relationship with the three judges who put him through to Hollywood remains cool. “I talked to Paula, Randy and Simon,” Daughtry told at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammys bash on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, “and honestly, every one of them said to

me, ‘Congratulations for sticking to your guns and having an opinion. Never apologize for that.'” Still, it’s clear the brouhaha in the blogosphere has made him reconsider making such bold statements in the future. “My whole point was never anything negative toward the show,” Daughtry explained. “I did two interviews that day, and you don’t want to repeat yourself, but then you go back and think, Wow, I guess I should have said the same thing.”

Daughtry added that he sees promise in this season’s crop of contestants; he is especially jazzed about one “dude that could really do some damage.” And while he didn’t win American Idol or any Grammy awards Sunday night (he was up for four), the rocker remains one of the best-selling acts of the past year. “Last year, it was like [being] a freshman in high school who wants to hang out with the seniors,” he said while surveying his surroundings at the party, which included a logjam of celebrities including Janet Jackson, Fergie, and Whitney Houston. “This year, we’re still new to the game, but we feel like we’re slowly but surely graduating to our senior year.”

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