Don't shed any tears for David Archuleta.

The "American Idol" runner-up isn't crying over finishing second to David Cook, and he doesn't want any of his fans crying, either.

"I just want them to know that I'm feeling great about it," Archuleta said in a conference call with TV critics a day-and-a-half after the "Idol" results were announced. "The fact that Cook won — I think he deserved it so much.... He's such a great guy, too."

And it was still a David and David mutual admiration society. Cook repeated that had expected Archuleta would win.

"My hat's off to Archie," he said. "He handled himself with a lot of grace. And, more importantly, he's just an amazing — an amazing — human being. And so I was just honored to share the stage with him."

The always-humble Archuleta is still struggling with the whole concept of having fans. He's taken aback by the thought that some of those fans burst into tears when he didn't win.

"I don't think it really has hit me that there are fans out there for me," he said. "It's just such a weird thought to think. I do think of it more as people who have appreciated what I've done."

And he's having some trouble wrapping his mind around the thought that he's a teen idol. Dating isn't his priority at the moment.

"I think now it's time to really focus on making an album and writing songs and all of that," Archuleta said. "I just feel like being 17, I'm not really mature enough to understand those feelings yet."

He said he's "watched so many of my friends" suffer through dating break-ups and say, "Oh, I can't live without them."

"It's like — you're 17! What are you talking about?" Archuleta said. "It just bugs me. All the drama. I so don't want to deal with the drama right now. I just want to be able to focus on music."

His immediate plans are fixed. Archuleta is still under contract with "American Idol" through the end of the upcoming summer tour. (It runs July 1-Sept. 13, including two already sold-out dates at the E Center on July 14 and 15.) He's thinking of possibly playing the piano on the tour, but neither that nor what songs he'll sing have been determined yet.

After the tour, Archuleta is a free agent. And he's already talking to various record companies about producing an album.

"Not winning the competition won't limit me from trying to create an album and write stuff," Archuleta said. "I think this has just been such a great opportunity to open all those doors that weren't open and available before this all happened.

"To make it to the top two — I don't think there's any reason to be disappointed with that," he added with a laugh.

As to what sound we might expect from a David Archuleta CD, "I'd love to do the pop thing, just because I'm still a teenager," he said. "On the show, I was getting a little mature with my songs, even though I love to do that stuff. I still want to be able to relate to kids my age. I like the pop music, but I still want to have meaning in my music."

He pointed to John Mayer and Sara Bareilles as people he'd like to emulate because they do "real music" that "has meaning and depth to it."

Music will be his priority, but Archuleta said school remains a focus. At this point, it has to. "Even after this interview, I still have to go to school," he said.

The odds of his returning to Murray High for his senior year are slim, however.

"I'd just love to take these opportunities that are available right now and to work on music as much as I can," he said. And finishing his education with home-schooling is a definite possibility.

"I've probably home-schooled for half of my life, so it's not anything new to me. If ... I have to do that, then that's something I'm up for," he said.

Even at 17, he's practical about the future. He hopes for a music career, but he knows it may not happen.

"Even if music does turn out to go somewhere for me, you never know how long it's going to last. So I just want to make sure I have something to back me up on that," Archuleta said. "I want to do music all my life, I just don't know if I'll be able to make a living off it for the rest of my life."

Like most 17-year-olds, he's not sure what he wants to be when he grows up (if music doesn't pan out). But he's still thinking he'd like to be an ear-nose-and-throat doctor.

"It's just something I can really relate to people with, because I've had so many issues with that stuff," Archuleta said. "So it would be great to study that more and be able to help out with all those problems."

But for now, he's just grateful the way things turned out on "American Idol."

"This is such a great experience. I'll never get this opportunity again," he said. "This is just the opportunity of a lifetime."


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