American Idol had the opportunity to have a great final performance night. However, ghastly production choices (a boxing theme? what?) and underwhelming performances by David Cook made the evening a bit lackluster. In fact, while Elder David seemed to be a bit off his game tonight, David Archuleta soared (to my dismay...dang it!) and gave two out of three knockout performances (sorry Simon, there is no way Archie's cheesy coronation song was better than Cook's rock-edged selection.)
Round One- Clive Davis Song Choice
David Cook: His take on U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was strong, controlled and captivating. It definitely was a great way to start the show, and it was a great song choice by Clive. No, David didn't really change it up, but this song also really didn't need it.
David Archuleta: To the surprise of many, Archie tackled Elton John's classic "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" with finesse. My only nitpick was the weird bouncing movement occuring near the end, plus a few diva-esque notes that weren't flattering. It was a good song choice. Simon declared Round One to him, though I'd say it was more of a tie.
Round Two- Contestant's Choice from songwriting contest
David Cook: This round is entirely one of personal preference. If you hate the usual, cliche, sappy coronation songs, then Cook offered something refreshing and radio-ready with the song "Dream Big." Though, if you like the sap, and therefore Archie, you (and Simon Cowell) hated it.
David Archuleta: There's no denying that Archie's song choice in "In This Moment" was better mellodically. Plus, despite the extreme sappiness, he sang it pretty well. Cowell said Archuleta owned this round too, but viewers' opinions will likely vary depending on whether they embrace Idol coronation songs or despise them.
Round Three- Contestant's Choice aka "Useless--if they aren't going to do the same thing!" Round
David Cook: Collective Soul's "The World I Know" was an interesting choice. He sang it well and it showed his softer side, but it didn't end with the bang he needed to step up his game. However, Cook can say that the audience does know what kind of album he will make--something that Archuleta cannot.
David Archuleta: He decided to reprise his performance of Lennon's "Imagine." This was a good idea because it gave him the knockout status of the night. However, hearing him tackle a new song would've been good too. Guess it doesn't really matter. His legion of teeny-boppers already have this thing in the bag.
So now the competition boils down to this. Should David Archuleta win for completely showing up Cookie on the finale--the single night that matters a great deal? Or should Cook's consistent originality all season long earn him the title? If it were up to me, David Cook would win. And though experts and betting rings thought the same earlier today, tonight's performances may have changed some minds. Here's to hoping they haven't.
Who Should Win: David Cook
Who Will Win: David Archuleta
For more recaps and reviews, visit the following: http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2008-05-20-idol-recap_N.htm
Tune to Fox tomorrow at 8pm for a mostly satisfying finale (except for the part where Archie is crowned the new American Idol). Forget this, just go buy Cook's cd when it comes out.