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- David Cook’s first audition
- David Archuleta’s first audition
- Michael Buffer intro
- Boxing style montage
Clive Davis Pick
- David Cook – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
- David Archuleta – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John
So the crack script writers decide to go with a lame and cheesy boxing metaphor as a backdrop to the “action”. I was reminded by someone in comments that this concept was taken out of mothballs. It was used for the previous all-male final 2 back in Season 2. I vaguely remember it. I’m sure it was as stupid then as it is now. The Top 2, David Cook and David Archuleta are game. They play along, even though it’s got to be horribly embarrassing to be introduced wearing robes and boxing gloves, They are playing it up, punching into the air. OMG. Incredibly lame. I’m also pretty pissed that the boxing announcer dude, Michael Buffa, deprived me of hearing Ryan Seacrest say, for one of the last times this year, “This PAUSE! Is AMERICAN IDOL!” The camera pans the audience. OMG Jason Castro is yawning! Too funny.
So, the game begins. And the boxing theme continues, with a video narrated by some boxing analyst dude. The narration refers to a “heavy weight title, only reserved for superstars” and they flash Chris Daughtry on the screen. I mean, seriously? This re-writing of history by TPTB is out of hand. Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber are called in for commentary.
The Davids are introduced, there’s some blah-de-blah my competitor is worthy-cakes, the judges are asked to add some blather, and it’s time for the first break.
David Archuleta won last week’s coin toss. He chose to perform last. David Cook opens the show.
The first song was chosen by Clive Davis. I have no idea why they are trotting out this geezer, who’s basically operating on fumes in the music business at this point, having been demoted from his post at BMG recently. Andrew Lloyd Webber is back to mentor some more. Clive did good for Cookie, clearing a U2 song for for him. This is the first time a U2 song has been performed in the American Idol competition. He picks the moldy Elton John classic, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” for David Archuleta. At first glance, it looks like a slam-dunk for Cookie…
David Cook – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 – Cookie’s raspy vocals are in great form tonight. He walks the stage, takes the performance into the audience and up onto the catwalk behind the judges. David puts his own stamp onto the performance, adding some really nice vocal flourishes. Unfortunately, it’s not a finale performance–there’s no run up to a big finish or big explosion of emotion. I expect the judges are going to be lukewarm…and I’m wrong. Randy says, “Very nice song choice, I’m not sure you did everything you could have with it, it was hot baby.” Paula babbles some scripted nonsense about having found what she was looking for, or something. Simon says, “I thought it was phenomenal.”
David Archuleta – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – Whoa, go go Archie. He sings a very emotional “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”. He begins sitting down. He’s squinting, despite the fact that ALW warned him not to. I doubt anyone is noticing at this point. He stands up, and purposefully takes the stage. He sings this classic, with so much passion, it doesn’t matter thats it’s over 30 years old, and that it’s been overdone on the Idol stage. His vocals aren’t perfect, but he goes for the big finish as if his entire life depends on it. This is the kind of stuff that wins over an audience, that compels them to pick up the phone and vote. Archie won this round, for sure. Randy says it was one of the best of the season and that it was “molten hot baby” blah blah blah. Paula says, “The sun is never going to go down on you.” I want to shoot the person who is writing this corny sh*t for Pauler. Simon says, “I thought last week you were OK. I thought tonight’s performance was arguably the best you’ve done so far.” David’s mouth drops open. He just got the Simon Seal of Approval! Then Simon adds, “Round One goes to Archuleta.”
I agree with Simon. Although Cookie had a great performance, it doesn’t match Archie’s emotional intensity. Round One goes to Archie.
For the next round, each contestant picked a song from a pool of Top 10 vote getters from the Idol Songwriters Contest.
“Battles Aren’t won by being a coward” — Andrew Lloyd Webber. “Be brave, A faint heart never wins the day” — Boxing analyst dude.
ALW and boxing analyst dude should have a contest. Who can come up with more dumb phrases that say the same thing? This is a tough round. The songs suck. From where I sit, Cookie’s song sucks a little less than Archie’s.
David Cook – “Dream Big” by Emily Shacketon – The lyrics are typical coronation song crap, but the melody has a really nice hook. It’s a pretty decent commercial pop-rock song. Cookie, with his guitar slung ’round his shoulders, wraps his raspy vocals around the insipid lyrics with a lot of heart and conviction. But, alas, again–totally not coronation song material. Ironically, it does a pretty good job of showcasing what Cookie could be doing in a super-commercial radio format. (Actually, I’m hoping his stuff is a little edgier than this, but I’m not holding my breath.) But, that’s not what Idol coronation songs are all about, right? Randy said, “You were singing your face off! Nice! Nice!” “A song in your heart, a guitar in your hand…this is a great way to take a song we don’t know and fall in love with it, ” Paula’s scriptwriter is working overtime! Simon says, “I thought the end was ok, it didn’t feel like a winning moment for me…that was a 6 out of ten.” Simon no likey!
David Archuleta – “In this Moment” by Ryan Gilmore – Ugh. This isn’t even good by coronation song standards. It’s beyond insipid. Not only are the lyrics dopey, but the song offers nothing melody-wise. Archie has a few nice vocal moments in the song, but it’s pretty underwhelming. Randy offers up the asinine phone book analogy once again. For Gods sake, Nobody, NOBODY singing the phonebook would be good! Is it crazy for me to want some substance and meaning behind a good voice? “Another hot one, ” says Randy. “It’s another heartfelt performance, it doesn’t matter what your singing, it’s like your on fire tonight. Pure magic, ” says Paula. “You definitely chose the better song…round two, goes to David Archuleta.” David stands there, taking it in as Ryan ticks off his numbers. He’s on the verge of tears.
Archie picked the right song–a big crappy ball of Idol ballast. This is what Idol coronations are made of–not catchy mid-tempo pop-rock tunes. In order to really impress the judges in this round, Cookie needed to pick a huge power ballad with a giant ending, and then proceed to sing his face off. Nothing else would do. Who won the round? Archie out-Idoled Cookie. But I think Cookie picked the better song and out performed Archie. Personlly, I give the round to Cookie. But Archie wins the doing the right thing at the right time award.
We’re back from break, ready for round three.
In round three, the Davids pick their own song. Cookie chooses a song he’s never performed before, while Archie plucked a crowd pleaser from early in the competition. Who made the smart move? On finale night, in order to take the crown, the safe move, is probably the smart move.
David Cook – “The World I Know” by Collective Soul – Gorgeous. Loved it. But totally the wrong song to win the competition. David’s beautiful rendering of this 90’s pop hit is hands-down my favorite performance of the night. David, playing acoustic guitar, pours a well of emotion into a simple song. This is totally not what he is supposed to be doing at this point. He’s supposed to be either wowing us with one of his prior show-stoppers like “Billie Jean” or “Hello”, or picking a big, familiar song that everyone knows. It’s a totally anti-Idol performance. And it’s probably going to kill him in this competition. And in a way, I sorta love it–not that he’s killing his chances, but that he went totally off the reservation and took a risk. If David loses this thing, he has nothing to be ashamed of. Cookie finishes. His eyes well up with tears. Randy says, “That’s a very nice sensitive side of David Cook…this is the kind of record you could maybe get by with…very nice job, dude.” Paula says, “I look up at you standing on the stage and you’re delivering your truth…unbelievable songs with integrity and originality, I truly applaud you, ” Paula gets all dramatic and gives him a standing O. Simon gives David one of his patented brush offs. He tells him that he’s one of the nicest, most sincere contestants they’ve ever had. Then he goes on to say that it was completely and utterly the wrong choice tonight, that he should have sung “Billie Jean” or “Hello”. David speaks up, “For me, this whole thing has been a progression, why do something that I’ve already done?” So you can win the contest, David! Sigh.
David Archuleta – “Imagine” by John Lennon – I didn’t care for Archie’s sweetened-up, denuded, run infested arrangement of this song the first time around. Completely stripped of it’s controversial verses, it’s like a toothless tiger. I don’t really care for it much tonight either. I will say, that Archie’s vocals on the song are beautiful, and I give him props for his earnest purposefulness. He appears to have every intention of winning this thing. Unlike Cookie, he made all the right moves tonight. The first and third songs were definite crowd pleasers, and the second song, even if sub par, had the politically correct amount of cheesy coronation song goopiness. The boy did good. The judges think so too. Randy says, “Dude, you are so good tonight, you are exactly what this show is about, finding the best singer and the best singer is right there.” Paula says, “You were stunning tonight.” Simon says, “This show is about finding a star. Tonight, I think we’ve witnessed one of the great finals. In my opinion, you came out here tonight to win, and what we have witnessed, is a knockout.”
So there you have it. Simon declares the winner, David Archuleta. It’s so weird, Simon spent the past week running around the talk show circuit pimping David Cook. Last week, when Archie gave a rather beautiful performance of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes”, Simon totally downplayed it, then he completely tongue-bathed Cookie’s performances. Tonight, Archie could do no wrong, Cookie could do no right. What goes on in the mind of Simon Cowell? I don’t really want to know.
Both Davids performed well tonight. Although I’d give Cookie the edge, Archie made all the right moves. Between his crowd-pleasing performances, the pimp spot and the judges blessings, he’s got to be the winner tonight, despite what Dial Idol says. I have to admit, he’s going to look natural singing the winners coronation song with confetti raining down on his head. There’s no doubt about that.
Ruben Studdard closed the show, singing a smooth “Celebrate Me Home” to a montage of season best of (or worst of) clips of the season. Almost over, it is. Can hardly believe it.