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American Idol Season 7 (2008)

 

May 20 - Dream big...but sing better (The final two)

 

As we limp our way to a totally anticlimactic finale, Idol and the entertainment pundits would have us believe that this is as big a battle as Season 2's duel between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.  I respectfully disagree.  During Season 2, I actually cared who won.  Oh, well.  If Mike can give blood today, so can I.

After all the fluff of the preliminaries (the contestants coming out dressed as boxers, with a boxing motif throughout - puh-leese), and nearly fifteen minutes of filler and ads, we finally get down to business.  Andrew Lloyd Webber mentors the contestants.  Clive Davis, recently sidelined by Sony BMG (regardless of his current title), has spent his time rubbing his gnarled hands together and coming up with these song choices for our finalists:

David Cook (sings U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"): For the first U2 song ever sung on American Idol, I would have chosen something a little more upbeat.  But, squeeee!  It's U2!  And while I miss U2's instrumentation, David does a terrific job with the song.  I was worried he'd butcher it the way he did last week's Switchfoot song, but his vocals are great - and distinctive enough that I'm not comparing him to Bono at all, which would be very tempting here.  Randy thinks it was a great way to start the "Duel of 2007" (2007? Turn the calendar, Randy.)  Paula says that David Cook has arrived.  Simon thinks it was phenomenal.

David Archuleta (sings Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me"): Well, my goodness.  David has more performance chops than I've ever seen in him.  He actually moves around the stage and looks like he has some conviction.  Obviously, he wants to win this thing.  So everyone is excited and screaming and squealing in the audience.  But from a vocal standpoint, it's not incredibly exciting.  The song is too big for him, and I'm still reminded of a very good high school talent show performance.  However, the judges all but proclaim him the winner of the season.  Randy calls the performance flawless and "unbelievably molten hot."  Paula has chills up and down her arms.  Simon says this is the best David's done so far and gives round 1 to him.  David is about to cry.

Winner of this round for me: David Cook (nyah, Simon!).

Next, the two Davids got to pick songs from the top ten vote-getters in the songwriter's contest.  Gee, I guess the producers didn't like the winner.

David Cook (sings "Dream Big"): David chooses a tune where he can stand behind his guitar and pretend he's singing a bad 80s song.  Lou Gramm, anyone?  Vocally, his rock voice is as good as usual, but the song?  Urgh.  Don't ask me to tell you the lyrics, because I tuned those out after the first "When I was a little boy."  It doesn't really showcase David well at all.  I am...underwhelmed.  Randy wasn't thrilled with the song but says that David was singing his face off.  Paula says he's mesmerized everyone.  Simon thinks he made the most of what he had song-wise, but it wasn't a winning moment.  Paula has to point out that he wasn't singing the winning song.  Right, but he still picked this song to sing, when he had nine others to choose from.

David Archuleta (sings "In This Moment"): I.  Hate.  This.  Song. "I want to stay in this moment.  No one can take it from me."  Blech.  Blech.  Blech.  Oh, David was fine on it.  He picked the perfect song for his crooner's voice, and I can see him singing this tomorrow night when the confetti falls on him.  Then it will be released to all the stations and I'll have to keep the radio off in the car all summer.  Thanks so much.  Randy says that David could sing the phone book and it would be good.  Paula calls it another heartfelt performance.  Simon loves the egotistical lyrics, says David chose the better song, and gives round 2 to him.

Winner this round for me: David Archuleta (not because I like the song, but because he made the better choice)

Finally, the contestants had the option to sing a song they've sung already on the show, or sing a new one.  Their choice?

David Cook (sings Collective Soul's "The World I Know"): This is a very sensitive, soft arrangement, with some interesting vocals.  He's all emotional afterwards (probably because his brother with cancer is in the audience).  In any other week, this would have blown out the competition.  But for his final song on Idol, he probably should have chosen something that was a bit more of an all out rocker.  Randy says he's showing a sensitive side and calls it very nice.  Paula says he's "standing in his truth," and she gives him a standing ovation.  Simon calls him one of the nicest, most sincere contestants they've had, but he says he chose the wrong song for this competition.  Yep.

David Archuleta (sings John Lennon's "Imagine"): David chooses the song that made him a frontrunner in the semifinals.  While I preferred it when he sang this at the piano, vocally it's as good as that first time.  Certainly it's good enough to win the evening.  Randy says David is exactly what this show is about - finding the best singer.  Paula says she's left speechless, then proceeds to blather.  Simon says that David came out to win, and they've witnessed a knockout.  David looks like he's about to have an asthma attack.  Get the boy an inhaler, Ryan.

Winner this round for me, and presumed winner of the competition: David Archuleta.  David Cook is already applauding him, presumably in gratitude for saving him from being trapped in 19E's restrictive winner's contract.  Ruben Studdard then sweats his way onto the stage and sings us out while we see a montage of all the bad...uh...memorable moments of the show.  Celebrate me home, indeed.  Celebrate me off this show.

Review 2008 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

 

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