''I just wanted to go over to Simon and let him know I wasn't scared of him,'' she says of her out-with-a-bang final performance
Kristy Lee Cook
Credit: A Rapoport/Getty Images

You have to hand it to Kristy Lee Cook. The girl had no shot of walking away with the American Idol title, but she won fans with her self-deprecating humor. Still giddy about making Simon feel awkward with her tabletop serenade, Kristy Lee called EW to discuss why she thought she was safe, why she doesn’t regret countrifying the Beatles, and, of course, what’s going on with that horse.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kristy Lee, I am very impressed with how you went out last night. You have guts to sit on a table and sing ”Forever” to Simon.
KRISTY LEE COOK: Yeah, it was kind of my last time on the stage. I just wanted to go over to Simon and let him know I wasn’t scared of him. I had enough confidence to go and sit right in front of him.

How did that work? Did you coordinate it ahead of time with the stage manager?
When it was getting close to Ryan announcing the results, I said, ”Can we do what we want on stage? Because I’m going to sit on Simon’s lap and sing.” [Debbie, the stage manager] said, ”You are?” and I said, ”Yes, I am.”

How did the lap song get nixed?
I was planning to sit on his lap, but he’s got a girlfriend and I have a fiancé. I just thought it was inappropriate.

You managed to make Simon blush.
I know! He told me it was very awkward for him. I was like, ”Now you know what it’s like to be us.”

Nice lyric change when you sang ”Still I burn on and on/ All of my life/ Only for a good comment from you.”
I don’t even know where that came from. I did it on the spur of the moment. I don’t even know what I said.

So did you know you were going home?
I didn’t. I really thought I was going to be okay this week. I thought I did my best job on the song this week; I thought I hit all the notes. It’s the most vocally challenging song I did this year so far. When I was done, I thought Simon was going to feed off of Paula and say he enjoyed it.

When you and Brooke were standing up there, it looked like you were telling her that you thought you were going home, and she was saying it hadn’t been decided. What did we miss?
Yeah, that was pretty much it. She had really thought she was going to go home. I told her ”No… You’re not going anywhere. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be me.” I was comforting her. I had a gut feeling then it was going to be me.

Were you annoyed that you had to comfort Brooke?
No, we pretty much have become like sisters. She was having a hard time with my leaving. It’s hard leaving. I was like, ”Don’t worry.”

When you put that ”Kristy’s seat” sign on the bottom-three stools a few weeks back, you won me over with your sense of humor about yourself.
Thanks. Some people didn’t like it. They thought maybe I thought they weren’t voting enough for me. I was trying to be myself and break the ice and be funny.

NEXT: ”If Simon had said ‘It’s amazing,’ everyone else would have thought differently. He didn’t, so unfortunately people didn’t like it.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you pick ”God Bless the U.S.A.” for strategic reasons, as Simon implied?
KRISTY LEE COOK: I actually picked that song for my dad, because he is a veteran. I sang that song a lot, so I knew I would do that instantly. People thought I did it just for votes and stuff, but I was just doing a song I was comfortable with. And it was nice to do something patriotic. Nobody does anything patriotic, and I had a chance, so why not?

You were slammed for turning ”8 Days a Week” into a country song. Do you want to apologize to Paul McCartney?
No, a lot of people liked that version. It’s basically personal preference. If Simon had said ”It’s amazing,” everyone else would have thought differently. He didn’t, so unfortunately people didn’t like it. All I heard when I was working on it all week was that it was good.

Did you ever think you should ditch country and just try to sing pop?
I can probably sing it, but my heart is in country, so no. I just wish I had been able to do more stuff I love. I wish I could have shown a lot more of my potential than was shown on the show. Most everyone hasn’t seen the real performance side of me, and that’s because I haven’t had a chance to show that. They’ll definitely see that on tour.

What do you mean? The kind of songs you want to sing, or how you perform on stage?
Both. But on tour I’m picking the songs I want to do, and I’ll be able to perform and move all over the stage and get really into the songs.

Will you be moving to L.A. to pursue music now?
I’m definitely going to go home first and then come back for the tour. After that, maybe there will be record deals in Nashville.

The world of horse fans is dying to know: Can you get your horse back?
No. The guy won’t sell him back to me. But he has a good home. It’s kind of unfortunate that he won’t sell him back. But I know why. He’s such a cool horse. I’d rather have him in a cool home than a bad home. The owner has been keeping in touch with me and sending me pictures of him. It sucks he won’t give him back.

What were you going to sing during Andrew Lloyd Webber week?
I was going to do ”Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Oh well. It happened for a reason.

Too bad. What a great song.
I know. It sucks I won’t be able to sing it. It just really stinks.

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