American Idol: Top 2 Perform

by Jason Hughes, posted May 20th 2008 7:51PM
David vs David 2008
(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.

Comparison Video
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."

David Cook
"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.

David Archuleta
"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.

Ruben Studdard
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
David

Going Home
David

No, I'm going to go ahead and predict a David Archuleta win after that night's performance.

Who is YOUR American Idol
David Archuleta329 (39.7%)
David Cook500 (60.3%)

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72 Comments

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Mariam

I think both Davids played to their strenght that night and David Cook didn't have a bad night at all ! I think David Archuleta should have won but Cook winning is fine with me. Win or lose, they're both winners. Everyone knows that the votings aren't completely accurate, since voters can vote as many times as they please. Oh and Dan, don't be mean ! I really liked "Shop Around". It may be a song we wouldn't expect him to sing, but he sang the song very well and it wasn't akward the way "With You" was. I wish the best for both Davids :)

June 05 2008 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mariam

I think both Davids played to their strenght that night and they both had a great night ! Win or lose, they're both winners. Everyone knows we can't we sure that the votings are completely accurate, since voters can vote as many time as they want. Oh and Dan don't be mean. I really liked "Shop Around". Even though we would never expect him to sing a song like that, he really delievered it. Best wishes to both Davids :)

June 05 2008 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Shirley

Archuletta is young and is more marketable, because he still has time to be a "Tweeny" like Miley Cyrus (Hanna Montana).

David Cooks is a rocker like many others, and is much older. He has had other public exposures. The younger children need someone, like Archuletta, that has not been currupted. David Cook looks like an older, hair on face , hair standing on his head un- combed ruff, looking, older guy. A guy that is singing to older girls that is looking for a "sexy man."

May 21 2008 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
emily

I'm proud of David Cook for showing he could actually sing something different for once.
As for Archuleta, there's barely any difference between every single ballad he sings.

May 21 2008 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
R in Weed

Would someone please tell me why we can't get the single version of David Cook's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I bought the video because thats all there was. You can't download it to your iPod.? If anybody out there knows whats up please tell me. Thanks

May 21 2008 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to R in Weed's comment
ORKMommy

I think the iTunes songs were only available until the end of the broadcast last night. At least that's what I think Ryan said. You could check the AI or iTunes site to verify.

May 21 2008 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CK

I'd love to see how the votes pan out. How many repeat votes for Archeleta and how many unique votes for Cook. It does seem, to me, that Cook has more fans, but the Arch fans (little girls with cell phones) can text 1000 times in seconds...I guess we'll have to wait for the record sales! Go COOK!!!

May 21 2008 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

Did anybody notice that when they did the end-of-the-show wrap up, where they show a few seconds of each performance, they showed a different "Imagine" performance than the one we'd just watched live? On "Take my hand and Join us..." he hits a high note, and I thought, "I don't remember seeing that!" So I played back the performance and the recap a couple of times, and sure enough - it's a different clip. Must have been from rehearsal or something....
Nonetheless, David Archuleta so clearly outsings, outshines and outperforms David Cook at this point, that it's not really even a contest. I like Cook, and I predict he'll have a successful career. But Archie's the boy this season - the New American Idol.

May 21 2008 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LenoraSTL

I think Simon was too harsh on David Cook last night. I like Simon and I respect his opinion but I've come to the decision that he sways more towards the one that he thinks is going to win. I think the judges pretty well know, from who got what with votes, who will win and Simon wants to be sure the viewers see him as the one that knew all along was to win. Both Davids were great last night and both a wonderful talent, I wish them both the best and hope to see more of them in the future.

I do want to add one more thing...I do feel that David A. will benefit more from winning Idol than David C. Cook is already secure with himself and will do well on his own...but David A. needs more experience with his stage presence and self-security...hopefully him winning will give him that, for his future performances.

May 21 2008 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alisa

Cook didn't try to win AI and I believe it was on purpose. He could have rocked us out but I believe he is smart to do what he did. He sang consistent and beautiful to show that he is great but he knows that if he comes in second he is really coming out in first!! He won't be tied down to AI for a year and no doubt he will do much better than Archuleta in his music career. In the beginning he pretty much said it himself by saying the competition is over and that they were just having fun. Archuleta did do an AWESOME job!! I will be waiting for Cook's music to come out and will probably buy all of his and will probably buy at least one of Auchuleta's. Great job David Cook!!

May 21 2008 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amanda

There was a moment last night when I realize that even though both are very talented singers I wouldn't pay to see David A in concert.

It was at the beginning of the show & they asked them how it felt to be there & David Cook said "Why don't we ask all these people for showing up" (not verbatim). Then Ryan asks David Archuleta & he goes (all breathy) "oh gee, wow, um, it's like aaahhh a dream come true". As much as a great kind of generic voice that Archuleta has - his stage presence is big time boring! At least Cook gets out there & works the crowd.

Considering that I would still see Cook even after he BUTCHERED one of my fave songs ever (Innocent by OLP) it's really saying a lot. I do still stand by my original convictions though that Cook will do much better rock-wise without the stigma of the AI title. =)

May 21 2008 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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