David Luning's video for his original song, "Whiskey Bottle"

Wednesday's season-opening show was watched by about 18 million viewers and expectations were that that number wouldn't drop much Thursday night.

"Afterward, Keith (Urban) told me he liked my song and he would buy my record," Luning said. "That was pretty cool.

"The entire process was kind of a blur," he admitted. "I mean auditioning in front of three superstars like that ... it was really, really cool."

After getting the judges' approval, he did the obligatory walk off the set and into the jubilant arms of mom Kathy, dad Michael and aunt Paulette Luning.

And the show, which was taped last fall, happened to air on David's 27th birthday.

He has now passed three enormous hurdles in the Idol journey.

Luning, who performs frequently around Sonoma County, went to last summer's tryout at AT-T Park in San Francisco ("I got there at 4 a.m. that day and it was cold. I was way out in the outfield when I performed," he recalled), was called back for a second tryout a month later and then was picked for Thursday's show.

At the seven audition sites scattered around the country, 72,000 singers tried out and there were 212 subsequent Golden Tickets awarded.

Luning has one of those.

Now what happens as Idol weaves its way to a May 21st finale at New York City's Madison Square Garden for the first time?

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