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The Nokia Theater was packed as the two remaining contestants gave it their all in a head to head… boxing match?  Hmm.. okay.  I don’t know about you, but I thought the whole boxing analogy was pretty lame, and what was up with the boxing expert who kept delivering over-the-top obvious statements like “In a competition between two people, there can only be one winner.”  Wow, thanks for that amazing observation, because I thought they could both win.  You really cleared it up with your boxing expertise.

But in the end, the night was mainly about the two David’s who have captivated America since the beginning.   Even though everyone kept talking all night about how they were going head to head and still competing and how they each needed to give it their all in order to win… I would venture to say that most of us already knew who we were voting for before the sound of the first bell.  There was not really anything either of them could do to change my mind about who I like best (Cook, ftw), short of completely giving up or forgetting all the words.

I thought it was funny also that Ryan announced in the beginning that they were battling over a “title reserved only for superstars.”  Has he already forgotten about Taylor Hicks and that awful performance from Fantasia last week?  The past has shown that Idol does not make you a superstar by default.  It just gives you a good jumping off point, but there is so much more to it that instant superstar status.  Anyway, moving on to the performances.

Round One – Clive Davis Choices

David Cook was given the U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and I thought it was excellent!  He looked like he was so comfortable and easygoing on a night where nerves and tension has to be running high.  He is already a rock star in the way he presents himself, and I think he’s one of the best contestants ever on American Idol to be honest.  The judges like it okay.  I honestly had to rewind my recording after the show to make sure I had heard Randy right when he announced that it was a good way to start off the “Duel of 2007.”  What?  Isn’t it 2008?  Randy had a total Paula moment there and someone should have called him out on it.  Simon said it was phenomenal, and it produced chills for Paula.

David Archuleta’s song was “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”  by Elton John.  Are you kidding me that they are really giving him this over-done song?  I have to admit that he did an amazing job on it, but it’s been done on AI at least 3 or 4 times already.  Did we really need to hear it again?  Everyone seemed to think it was his best performance ever and Simon announced that Round 1 goes to DA.  Randy thought it was “molten hot”.  I thought it was pretty darn good, but it was so predictably the only kind of song that this kid can shine on, if you know what I mean.

Round 2 – Songwriting Competition

David Cook chose a song called “Dream Big” which was a pretty good song, I thought.  He got raked over the coals for the song not having that “This is my Moment Where I win and Cry” kind of feel to it, but I don’t think that winning kind of song fits him anyway.  Plus it must be tough to come out after hearing that your competition was better according to the judges.  Especially after he really did an awesome job first round.  Simon thought it was a “lightweight” performance.  He was really getting into the boxing analogy, let me tell ya.  Randy thought he sang his face off, and Paula was mesmerized.  We also got another classic Paula comment when she tried defending David by saying “And it wasn’t the winning song…. Was it?”  Um… Paula?  How much do you get paid to be so clueless?

David Archuleta chose “In This Moment” which, from the title alone, you can tell it’s more the type of song traditionally done in the finale.  it wasn’t great though, to be honest.  It was a sweet ballad, but it didn’t give me chills or anything.  Nothing can really beat the “Moment Like This” song from season 1 and the way Kelly Clarkson performed it.  Randy was not crazy about the song, but as he’s mentioned a million times in the past, “you could sing the phone book, it was another hot one.”  He needs some new comments.  Paula said he was in the zone and Simon declared him the Round 2 winner.

Round 3 – Competitor’s Choice

David Cook chose the Collective soul song “The World I Know”.  He was up on stage looking amazing in all black with a red tie, his acoustic guitar strapped on, and his voice in top shape.  He slowed it down and reminded us that he is a great arranger and able to always bring something new to the table.  He really put some nice turns in it and built the song up graduatlly.  If his goal was to prove that he is a contemporary recording artist, then he really did it tonight.  I thought it was a perfect performance and that he showed us three different kind of songs and three amazing vocals.  Randy agreed that he showed different sides of himself.  Paula said, “You are up there standing in your truth.”  which I thought was actually very poetic.  She praised him for his originality all season.  Simon said he was the nicest, most sincere contestant they have ever had, but that he chose the wrong song.  He should have chosen Billy Jean or Hello or something he did well somewhere along the way.  I loved DC’s answer when he said “I was thinking the competition is about progression, so why do something I’ve already done.”  Well said.

David Archuleta made a great argument for doing something you’ve already done though, with his choice of his season showstopper, “Imagine”.  He added some vocal embellishment over the last time he did it, but it was flawless.  He has so much control over his voice and there is no doubt that he is one of the most talented singers in the history of Idol.   Simon said that both people had done well all season, but in terms of tonight, DA was a “Knockout”.  Ryan had to chime in and say “Well said, Mr. Cowell”, which I’m not sure if he was complimenting Simon’s use of the boxing metaphor or agreeing that Archuleta should win.

Overall, they both did a great job.  I think that Archuleta sang three very touching songs and he sang them flawlessly.  Tonight was his best performance ever, and if he wins then he truly deserves it.  But my vote has to go to David Cook.  This season he managed to bring an originality and diversity to the show that no one had ever accomplished before.  David Archuleta can sing the hell out of a ballad.  He’s proven that time and time again.  However, you give him an uptempo song to sing or something more contemporary and pop or rock, and he just can’t deliver.  It’s easy listening all the way for him.  I think the winner of American Idol should be diverse and able to sing almost anything you throw at them and give it their own personal flavor.  David Cook can do that without a doubt.

This has been a great season and thank you for your comments and for reading this blog.  One more update as we look to the two hour finale and find out who is crowned this year’s American Idol.

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