American Idol Results: Pound for Pound

No low blows or rabbit punches.  These two "fighters" genuinely respect each other.  "This guy's awesome," David Archuleta said of David Cook.  "You have been one of those consistently nice people," Cook said in return. "As far as I'm concerned the competition is over and we're just having fun."  Not so fast Cook. 

American Idol
 is the sanctioning body for this finals week battle.  It is on.  After the boxers handshake boys, making nice should be over.  It's time to belt it out.  Let's get ready to rumble," Michael Buffer called out in that great announcer voice.  In this corner... 

How do they match up?  Archuleta and Cook have two different styles.  They may not be within the limits of the same weight class -- but it's a fair fight, a catchweight. Cook would fall under a light heavyweight category and Archuleta a mini flyweight, but tonight they met some place in the middle. 
 
According to Simon (the show's official CompuBox) there was one contestant who completely dominated each of the three rounds.  He insinuated Cook was pulling punches while Archuleta was throwing power punches.  And at the end of the competition he said to Archuleta, "in my opinion, you came out to win and what we've witnessed was a knock out."  Pretty perfectly put, seeing that he favored Archuleta for each performance.  But how much truth were in those words?  And how much is it staged lines for the produced-up finals show with a boxing theme?  As a former television producer, I understand this.  That said, Cook was not KTFO'D.  It was more like a barnburner, but I guess that's technical boxing jargon and a knock out is more understandable and definitive for the common American Idol viewer.
 
After Paula's flub up the other week, I can't help but to be skeptical that all the judges' comments are genuine.  David Cook also had three great rounds.  Other than evidence of the young girls' overpowering squeals for Archuleta in the audience, who knows how the votes are going to sway?  There were no punches hard enough to render Cook unable to continue his fight.  He was his original, versatile, amazing self - as usual. 
 
Don't get me wrong, Archuleta did put up quite a fight.  He deserves to win as much.  I just think Simon unfairly stacked the odds against Cook.  And it appeared he had every intention of doing that right from the start of the show.  Who knows why he did it exactly.  It might very well be a feint - to get Cook's fans to react, go on the offensive and call all night long for their favorite rocker contestant.
THE FIRST ROUND:  Clive Davis (who let's face it is going to give both Davids record deals no matter what) picked their first song.  
 
David Cook
Clived picked U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" because it "captured the yearning" of his generation who are always looking for... answers.  Andrew Lloyd Webber was around this week to coach the contestants.  He admitted it was a tough song, but told Cook, "you have all the vocal equipment.  You can afford to be brave."

You may not have found what you're looking for, but we have found David Cook," Paula said. (She had a million of those cliche comments throughout the show.)  "We need to look no further.  David Cook has arrived.  Amen, Amen," she praised.  Paula has a tendency to appear punch-drunk, but tonight she was a lover not a feisty one.  Randy liked the song, but didn't think he did all he could with it.  He did note, however, he "loved the scoop in the end."  Simon gave a confusing critique, "at the top of the show you looked very tense.  Very emotional.  Taking all that together, I thought it was phenomenal."  
 
I don't know what it is about Cook, but whatever song he sings I love.  I more often dig his take better than I do the original.  I am just impressed by his overall uniqueness for the competition and ability to sell it.  This guy can sell anything.  And that's what you want in an American Idol.   
 
David Archuleta
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was a good fit for Archuleta's power vocals.  ALW said in a very Yoda-like way, "young David has it provided he doesn't" keep his eyes shut throughout the performance.  He joked with Archuleta calling the song, "Don't Let Your Eyes Go Shut on Me".

Wow, the fans were going crazy for the kid with the golden voice.  Randy had to wait until it quieted down a bit before he spoke.  "That was flawless and unbelievably molten hot!"  Randy also called it one of the best performances of the season.  Paula who expressed her emotions with chills running up and down her arms had another one of those lines, "the sun is never going to go down on you." Simon reminded him that he thought last week was just ok, but said "tonight was arguably the best you've ever done.  Round one goes to Archuleta." 
 
Archuleta was flabbergasted, totally overwhelmed.  The song was perfect to showcase his strong ability to belt out a song beautifully.  No shouting or pitch problems, he's a savant. 
 
THE SECOND ROUND: The contestant's got to pick from the AI songwriter's contest (not the winning song that will be sung in tomorrow's grand finale).  

David Cook
"Dream Big" by Emily Shackelton was one that Cook could rock out to.  It wasn't the sappy type of song we are used to hearing from this contest, but it wasn't the coolest for his bout with all things considered.  

"The song was just ok for me, but what really made it work was your voice," Randy fairly commented.  Poetic-Paula gushed, "a song in your heart and a guitar in your hand... This is a great way to take a song we don't know and fall in love with it."  Simon thought "the end was ok" and he made the most of what he had to work with.  "Baring in mind this is supposed to be a winning song," Simon added, "it does not feel like a winning moment for me."  Paula pointed out it wasn't actually the "winning song."   

David Archuleta
Archuleta picked a song called "In this Moment" by Ryan Gillmor.  It was a typical AI finals "nothing can stop me while I'm on top" kind of ditty, and totally Archuleta's style.

"Another heartfelt performance.  It doesn't matter what song you sing," Paula beamed.  Simon loved the egotistical lyric and told Archuleta he chose the better song.  He gave him round two as well.  Once again, Randy wasn't crazy about the song, but he said like he's said before, "you are in the zone.. you could sing the phonebook."

At the end of the first two rounds it was a split decision.  Simon declared Archuleta the winner at this point.  Randy and Paula held back on that -- it's still too close to call.

THE THIRD ROUND: The contestant's personal choice for the rubber match. Archuleta performed a song he's done in the competition and he's proud of.  Cook went with something he's never performed before.
 
David Cook
Cook sang "The World I Know" by Collective Soul.  He was emotional and it brought him to tears afterward.
 
Paula saluted him with a standing ovation.  "I look at you standing on stage and you are standing in your truth and you are delivering unbelievable songs with integrity and originality."  Randy commended him for showing different sides of himself tonight.  "That was a nice sensitive side," he said.  "I love Collective Soul and I've been saying for weeks this is the record you can make and get by with."  Simon started with a Paulaism (where you begin the critique with a nice comment that has nothing to do with singing.. then hit 'em with a sucker punch.)  The soft blow started like "I want to say publicly you are actually one of the nicest, most sincere contestants we've had.  I thought it was a beautiful song, but I have to be honest."  Alright here it comes -- "it was completely and utterly the wrong song choice for you on the night.  What you should have sung was "Billy Jean" or "Hello", he suggested.
 
Cook sang both of those songs in this competition and got rave reviews.  When Simon said "you understand what I'm saying?  Cook said yes and no.  He counterpunched by explaining that he sees this competition as a progression and thought, "why do something I've already done?"
 
Ryan pointed out to the viewers, "that's all he can do now.  The rest is up to you."        
David Archuleta
Archuleta didn't have the same motivational idea as Cook and did his rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine".  I'm sure the "boxing agent" father of his approved since it was a song he helped arrange the first time he performed it on the show. 
 
The judges loved it just as much the second time.  "You are so good tonight.  You are exactly what this show is about - finding the best singer we can find.  And the best singer of season seven is right there," holla!  Looks like Randy made his choice and bum rushed Cook.  Paula didn't take a true stance, "it's the culmination David.  You left me as speechless as I was when I first heard you sing that song.  You were stunning tonight.  This is what it's all about."  Now this is where Simon calls the technical knock out on Cook.  He said to Archuleta, "at the end of the day, this show is about finding a star.  Tonight I think we witnessed one of the great finals."  
 
The majority decision goes to Archuleta.  But no one can officially throw in any towels just yet.  Cook's not taking a dive.  There's no way he's down kissing the canvas.  Each finalist went the distance in this competition.   
 
Remember what ALW said in the beginning of the show, "whoever is prepared to dare a little bit more than the other" has the best chance.  If that calls the match, the contestant who took the most risks every week (including this one) is David Cook.
 
The fans, who we can call the "matchmakers" in this duel, had four hours to vote like mad.  One reader of TV Cocktail said last week that the teeny boppers will be flexing their texting fingers like lightning for Archuleta and that could give him the advantage.  But I have to ask, who are their mom's voting for across the room?  Third place finalist, Syesha Mercado has commented on how much older women find Cook charming.  There could be a family battle going on in homes across the world.
 
What was your scoring criteria for this match?  
 
Audio and video of the night will only be available on iTunes until midnight tomorrow.  I may actually be in for adding one or two to my favorite playlist from each of the finalists.  The way I see it, no one is down and out.  Everyone is a winner this season.
 
We'll have two hours of grand finale entertainment before we find out who the next American Idol will be tomorrow.

 

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