Songwriters strike ‘Idol’ gold

Times Staff Writer

Whoever wins the “American Idol” crown tonight will owe a shout-out to a greater idol.

“This Is My Now,” the original song performed by “American Idol” finalists Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis in their showdown Tuesday at the Kodak Theatre, was written by a Seattle duo: a pastor and a contemporary Christian music artist. The song, which beat more than 25,000 entries in this season’s online songwriting competition, will be released as the winner’s first single.

“This is just surreal,” said Scott Krippayne, 36, the singer-songwriter who penned “This Is My Now” with New Day Church pastor Jeff Peabody. “We believed in the song, but you just never know. We wanted to write something that encapsulates the season.”

Added Peabody, 40, who wrote the lyrics: “I would describe the song as encouraging for people who might be discouraged. Hopefully it gives them the incentive to carry on.”

The partners quickly boarded a plane Monday to Los Angeles after being informed by the show’s producers that they were the winners of the songwriting competition, which was established this year by “Idol” creator Simon Fuller. In previous seasons, the showdown song has been written by established composers.

Krippayne and Peabody were scheduled to be in the Kodak audience Tuesday when Jordin and Blake were to sing the composition. They are expected to return tonight when the winner is named.

Iain Tirie, head of the U.S. arm of Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, said more than 500,000 votes were cast on the “American Idol” website May 2-8 for the contest’s top 20 songs, which had been culled by company executives from the uploaded submissions. Said Tirie, “Our goal was twofold: to elevate the songwriter craft and to let America choose the winning song.”

The winning version will be available for download on iTunes and the “Idol” website after the show is over. All previous initial singles by “Idol” winners have reached the top of the charts.

Krippayne and Peabody said they hope the song will help open doors to record companies who might be interested in their other compositions. But their first goal is more immediate.

Said Peabody, “I can’t wait to download my own song off iTunes.”