Tonight the Davids faced off in the finals of American Idol in a battle that pit a rock star versus boy wonder. But who will pull away with the title?
Going into this final night of competition I still believe that David Cook is the better choice for the Idol winner because he offers the whole pop star package. Even in the cheesy eight-minute Ready-to-Rumble introduction David Archuleta couldn’t muster up enough character to make the whole “fight night” ambiance believable.
This final battle was fought in three rounds before 7,000 fans in the Nokia Theatre with Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber helping the Davids prepare.
Round 1 – Clive’s Choice
Songs for Round 1 were chosen for the contestants by Sony BMG Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis.
In the first round, Cook proved that he was in it to win tonight, opening with a slowed-down rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that started the show off on a high note and caused Randy to forget the year when he called this the Dual of 2007.
But if you liked Archuleta coming into this show, then you loved his version of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” It was his every performance personified, then amplified. I’ll agree that it was one of his best performances.
Although the judges gave this round to Archuleta, I’d say that Cook won it. While both sang well, Cook worked the stage and the crowd better.
Round 2 – Songwriter Contest Choice
This round was for those of you that wanted to see what the contestants could do with something original.
And what Cook did was rock a song with only mediocre lyrics. In fact, I think his rendition of Emily Shackleton’s “Dream Big” could actually become a hit for him despite second-rate words. The arrangement was likable, fun and easy to rock out to.
The lyrics of “In this Moment” by Ryan Gilmore might have been better, but for me Archuleta’s performance was forgettable. As I listened, I kept wondering what Cook could do with this song. We all knew what Archuleta would do – sing it as a ballad, squint his eyes and hold out his right arm as he sang.
While I thought it was cool to see some original work, I have to wonder at the wisdom of choosing from songs that weren’t good enough to win the songwriting contest. The judges also gave this round to Archuleta. But was it because they liked the lyrics better? I still think that Cook did more with what he had.
Round 3 – Contestant’s Choice
The songs selections in the Contestant’s Choice round were better than last week.
Cook showed his versatility by slowing things down with Collective Soul’s “The World I Know.” For me, his performance felt intimate despite the venue. I think it was a cool move on his part that, even on the last night with the title at stake, he didn’t take the easy way out with a song he’d already performed. Instead he challenged himself with a new song.
On the other hand, I was not impressed with Archuleta’s “Imagine” the first time he sang it. And an encore performance did nothing to improve his standing with me. But on a similar note, I wouldn’t have been more awed if he’d chosen a new song since I think all of his performances sound the same.
Again the judges gave the round to Archuleta, but it was Cook who proved his range and his flexibility with his choice.
If anyone had any doubt that Archuleta was being set up to win had to just listen to the judge comments tonight for proof.
Cook clearly out sang Archuleta showing his versatility and originality while Archuleta’s songs were all alike – right down to the hand gestures. But still he got the praise.
What do you think? Who sang better? Who deserves the title?