A Michigan 18-year-old wins a composition contest judged by Idol's Cowell

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 01, 2005 08:00 AM

Acerbic American Idol judge Simon Cowell clearly had something good to say to 18-year-old Mark Diffenderfer of Bloomfield Township, Mich.

Beating out 12,000 other hopefuls, Diffenderfer took the top prize in the USA Weekend Songwriting Contest for Teens with his ditty, “Make a Difference, Make Your Meaning,” the Associated Press reports.

“I was honestly blown away. I didn’t know I wrote something that would do so well,” said Diffenderfer, who also met the approval of fellow judge Fantasia Barrino, the Idol winner from two seasons ago.

Diffenderfer said he wrote the song in one day and sent it in two hours before the deadline. “It was more of a daydream to actually win. I always wondered what it would feel like, but I didn’t think it would actually happen.”

As for meeting Cowell, Diffenderfer – who plans to attend the University of Michigan this fall, then possibly proceed into a career writing scripts for movies or TV – said: “With all the things you hear about him, you’d think he would be vicious. But he was really a nice guy … very positive and very supportive.”