American Idol: Top 2 Perform
by Jason Hughes, posted May 20th 2008 7:51PM
(S07E40) Tonight, it's wall-to-wall David as Cook and Archuleta face-off in the penultimate episode of what was once proclaimed to be the most talented and greatest season of American Idol to date. And yet, for some reason it hasn't worked out that way. Nevertheless, the Davids are both talented and in such different ways. Archie has a pure and beautiful voice but his performance technique is severely lacking. Meanwhile, Cookie is a consummate performer, but doesn't have nearly the vocal depth of his nemesis.
Tonight, expect them to sing the "Idol Songwriting Competition" winning song which should be a horribly saccharine song about "Gosh, I can't believe where I'm at and isn't this amazing," or if we're especially lucky we'll get two different songs like that. Other than that, we should get three songs from each, one possibly an encore of their favorite performance and the third ... well, who knows. Join us in our weekly live chat and we can speculate together.
You can join the chat by following this link. Look for the full episode review right here later tonight.
American Idol, don't do that. Don't start your show that way. Granted, it's always fun to see Michael Buffer introduce anything, but the faux boxing theme throughout the show was cheesy even by Idol standards. The theater looks great but as I've not been all season I continue to not be impressed with the various celebrities they show us in the studio audience. It's all about publicity and marketing. Why do you think Jason Priestley was there? Exactly. Nothing more to say.
Can I remind the folks at American Idol that Chris Daughtry didn't win American Idol. Why didn't they show Taylor Hicks? He won that season. Or are we living in the era of American Idol revisionist history. So neither David has ever been in the Bottom 3? Well, how about last week, American Idol. I bet they were both in the Bottom 3 last week. Yeah, I got you! In your face!
I like that they brought Andrew Lloyd Webber back to help the kids as he was probably the most constructive and helpful celebrity mentor of the season. And Clive Davis is still a consummate genius when it comes to pop music, but I think he's put the screws to many an Idol finalist by pigeon-holing them onto an album that wasn't a good fit for their style. I hope they've learned their lesson and will let these guys do the right kind of album, rather than forcing another The Real Thing.
Coca-Cola Introductory Chat
David Archuleta won the coin toss. He opted to go second. Hey, check it out. Ryan, clean shaven and suited up, talking to the contestants before the performances began was brought to you by Coca-Cola. I wonder if they'll get a sponsor for the judges comments next season. "And now it's time for the Timex judges' comments. Remember, it can take a licking and keep on ticking. And so can these contestants."
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - U2 (Selected by Clive Davis)
Well, I'll give Davis credit for one thing, he gave Cook one of the most difficult vocalists for any singer to manage. And by dammit if he didn't come on strong right out of the gate with it. I enjoyed his performance a lot better before he did his "rock out" thing halfway through by grabbing the mic and heading for the crowd. But I've never been a big fan of the "stage" behind the judges' table. All in all, by the end I thought he handled the material well and got things off to a great start.
Judges: Randy doesn't know what year it is, but he thought Cook was "hot" and a good start. Paula made a bad pun about the title of the song and thought he was in great voice. Simon said that he was phenomenal.
"Dream Big" - Emily Shackleton (New Song - Contestant's Choice)
I like the twist on the "Songwriting Contest" this year. They gave the contestants the Top 10 entries and let them choose which song they wanted to sing from the list. When he hit the chorus on this, I got on board. It was a little grungy and muddled in the performance as I think the vocals were buried too much in the instrumentation, but it's a good song and Cook was absolutely amazing in his rendition of it. It wasn't overly corny as we've come to expect. Instead, it absolutely rocked!
Judges - Randy wasn't blown away by the song (I was) but thought Cook sang his face off. Paula made some grand comment about songs in hearts and guitars, but said he made a song we don't know something to fall in love with. Simon thought the end was okay, but didn't think it felt like a winning moment. Simon doesn't like hard rock music, though so his opinion doesn't count.
DOUBLEPLAY - Haven't had one of these in awhile, eh?
"The World I Know" - Collective Soul (Contestant's Choice)
This is an odd choice for a singing competition, but it is a great song. It's a song he's never performed before, so Cook is looking to bring something new to the stage. I was worried going into it though that it wouldn't showcase his vocal prowess enough to overcome Archie and an encore of his strongest song of the season, "Imagine." It was pleasant enough in the opening frames, but the lines have no melodic range and thus we had a raspy flat performance that wasn't really going anywhere. It'd be a great crowd pleaser in a David Cook concert, maybe for an encore, but for your last ever performance on American Idol. No way. Cook should be worried ending his run like this. But he did remain true and consistent to himself as a performer, and maybe he'd rather come in second and go the Daughtry route with his career as opposed to the Hicks route.
Judges: Cook was moved to tears by probably his feelings on the entire performance. Randy gave him kudos saying he could make a great album full of songs just like that. Paula said he was standing in his "truth" delivering songs with integrity and originality, after which she stood and applauded him. Simon said he was one of the nicest and most sincere contestants the show has ever had. He thought the song was beautiful but it was absolutely the wrong choice on the night. He should have instead done an encore performance of "Billie Jean" or "Hello." Cook saw the show as a progression, and thus didn't want to perform something he'd already done, though he understands what Simon was saying.
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" - Elton John (Selected by Clive Davis)
Davis didn't go any easier on David Archuleta. Elton John is a genius. Kudos to Webber for reiterting that he needs to keep his damned eyes open. Now if we could just get him to stop half-closing/squinting them I'd be happy. He started this number off seated (but still managed to hold his right arm out, palm up). And like Cook he got up halfway through and "rocked out," as it were. And like Cook I didn't like it quite as much when he did that, nor did I like the fact that he was sharp on his one falsetto note toward the end. Other than that, though, it was brilliant. During and after the judge's comments, David was absolutely sincere in the level to which he was overwhelmed and nearly in tears. If sympathy votes factor in, he just won.
Judges: Randy thought it was one of the best performances of the whole season. He's running out of time to praise David so he needs to pile on now. He gave Paula chills, who had to make another bad pun based on the song title. For her, it was beautiful and stunning. Simon agreed that arguably that may have been the best he's done so far and gave him Round One.
"In This Moment" - Ryan Gilmore (New Song - Contestant's Choice)
This, again, is one of the Top 10 "Songwriter Contest" selections. It's always fun to see the contestants singing something we've never heard before as it eliminates the comparison factor. Cook picked a rock song and Archuleta picked a ballad. I'm glad they went with their strengths, unlike last week. But he was squinting again. I felt a distinct lack of passion in the middle portion of the song when he first hit the chorus. And this is one of those sappy songs I was expecting from the songwriting competition. Once he got into it, it got better but I don't think he connected to the song in a believable enough way. And dammit, Archuleta, when they zoomed in on your face you had your eyes closed. Didn't you listen to Webber? Actually, a lot of singers close their eyes like fellow David, Grohl, and do just fine. Ultimately, it was pleasant but not dynamic enough for me.
Judges: Randy again didn't care too much for the song, but again said he could sing the phone book and he was hot. When was the last time Randy gave any sort of criticism to Archie? Paula said he's on fire tonight (pure magic) no matter what he sings. Simon loved the egotism of the lyric and thought it a better song than Cook's and gave Round Two to Archuleta.
"Imagine" - John Lennon (Contestant's Choice)
This is considered far and away the highlight of Archuleta's season so by ending the season on the same song, he's going for the win. Nothing that might slip him up. So while Cook when for the more challenging selection, Archuleta instead went for the win. Smart move. Personally, I have mixed feelings about these encore choices. I would have preferred they never repeat something they've already done because we know how they do it already. I say, for the last night WOW us with new stuff, not old stuff we can watch online or on our TiVos. That said, you can tell that Archuleta has grown throughout the competition, as he does improve upon his original performance of this, which was nearly flawless in itself. Now, you can tell he was living inside the lyrics and really singing from the heart. It was an absolutely beautiful vocal. As for what it will mean in the final vote, who can possibly say, but I think Archuleta has done everything he could to erase the slight lead Cook had taken in most polls in recent weeks.
Judges: Randy said he was so good tonight and declared the best singer of Season Seven was standing right there on the stage. Paula was left speechless again by his rendition of the song. Simon declared this one of the great finals in Idol history. But Archuleta came to win and delivered a knockout night.
I love you and miss you, Ruben. You are my velvet teddy bear. He came out live to sing the goodbye song and reminded us why he won the second season. The highlights reminded us that Idol is still a lot of fun. I hope Ryan was standing by with a towel for him to wipe his sweat. But he sounded absolutely amazing. Easily the best performance of the night.
Best of the Night
No, I'm going to go ahead and predict a David Archuleta win after that night's performance.
|David Archuleta||329 (39.7%)|
|David Cook||500 (60.3%)|