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Over-used boxing metaphors aside, last night’s final performance episode of American Idol left me thinking the Idol title could go to either David. If you were to go by the judges reactions last night, Archuleta has it in the bag but as a Cook fan, I’m holding on to hope that he could end up leaving tonight’s finale a winner. I don’t have anything against Archuleta. I guess I just fail to see the pop-star in him just yet. Perhaps if he were a bit older I might feel differently but he comes off as a bit too pageanty for my taste. One thing’s for sure; both contestants are talented and deserve to be up on that stage tonight. I’m going to be covering the two-hour event as it airs live so stick around or check back in and feel free to share your own thoughts on the finale in our comments section below.
8:00 p.m. - The episode starts with Ryan doing his intro and the two Davids, both dressed in white are standing face to face on the stage. Flash to celebrities in the audience. Was that Lori Loughlin? Ryan says over 97 million votes came in last night, smashing the record. One David got 56% of the vote, while the other david received 44%. Were the phone lines ever left open for four hours in previous years? Wouldn’t that affect the record?
8:02 p.m. - Mikalah Gordon is in Cook’s hometown surrounded by Cook fans, while Matt Rogers is in Archuleta’s hometown. Lots of cheering fans and the now we’re back in the theater where the top 12 take the stage to perform. Everyone’s dressed in white and performing “Get Ready.” Ah, it’s nice to see the faces of the previously eliminated Idols I’d pretty much forgotten all about. There are dancers on stage and I’m pretty sure we’re looking at some of the previous So you Think You Can Dance dancers as I could’ve sworn I saw Lacey up there. I doubt that’s the last plug we’ll see for Fox’s SYTYCD, which premieres tomorrow night at 8 p.m. EST (yay!).
8:09 p.m. - When we come back from commercials, Cook takes the stage and starts singing Hero (the Nickelback version). Archuleta soon joins him and contributes some harmonies before taking the wheel himself and letting Cook back him up. For two very different voices, they sound really good together.
8:12 p.m. - After that performance, Ryan introduces a totally obvious promotional clip for The Love Guru that is loosely tied in to the Davids (apparently they got to go to a screening of the movie). What does this really have to do with American Idol? Drink Coke. Drive a Ford. Go see The Love Guru. Everyone good on that? Ok, now Mike Myers is being funny teasing the Davids. He pokes fun of Cook’s facial hair (“It’s not the 90’s”) and tells Archuleta he’ll soon have hair in weird places. Heh. Ryan says Guru Pitka has traveled all the way from “Harin makeester” – get it? Anyway. Mike Myers gets up stage as his character from The Love Guru and jokes about predicting that David will win. He plugs the movie and gets off the stage.
8:17 p.m. - Syesha gets on stage and sings “Waiting For You” with Seal. Wow! He sounds great but she seems a little off. Nerves? She started out great but got a little shaky once Seal joined her. She’s back on track now though and the two finish up the song to applause. Off to a commercial of – you guessed it - The Love Guru.
8:26 p.m. - Jason Castro is now singing what was easily his best number, “Hallelujah.” Fan girls in the audience can occasionally be heard screeching. Now it’s over and we get a Ford commercial (music video – whatever), which appears to be made up of clips from previous Ford commercials. Ford’s all about recycling. And speaking of going green, both Davids get a Ford Escape Hybrid.
8:29 p.m. - The six female contestants take the stage to perform a Donna Summer medley. They’re all dressed in red. The performance seems oddly stiff but the girls all sound great. Yay, the dancers are back! They spin around on their heads and do lots of flippy things as Donna Summer takes the stage to sing. The girls back her up as she rocks out on stage. I wish they’d show more wide shots of the stage so we could see how the whole thing looks with the six Idol females, the dancers and Summer all at once. At one point, Ryan joins in on the dancing then quickly moves out of the way. That was actually kind of funny.
Summer passes the microphone over to Syesha, who takes over for a couple lines of the song. Was that planned or did Summer just need to take a breather? She was sounding pretty strong throughout the medley.
8:39 p.m. - Carly and Michael Johns team up for a duet of “She Wrote Me a Letter.” Johns sounds good but Carly is a little bit screamy. Maybe it’s just the song. Ryan plugs the Idol tour. Go to AmericanIdol.com for more info on how to get tickets.
8:43 p.m. - Jimmy Kimmel steps on to the stage an quickly makes a joke about Sanjaya serving as the valet who parked his car tonight. Cut to Sanjaya in the audience laughing. He moves on to roasting Ryan and the other judges. He says if you put all of the awful things Simon’s said this season to music, it’s actually quite music. Then we get a hilarious montage of Simon saying mean things all season long. Nice!
8:46 p.m. - And now it’s the top six guys’ turn to rock out. They (minus the two Davids) start out singing “Summer of ’69.” Oh God, does that mean Bryan Adams is performing?! The guys’ voices don’t flow together nearly as well as the girls. David and David join them and start singing “Heaven.” No. No. No!! On the plus side, with the two Davids singing, the guys’ sound much better. Bryan Adams is now on stage singing. He looks (and sounds) exactly as I remembered him from back in the early 90’s when I obsessed over “Everything I Do” along with the rest of my eighth-grade schoolmates (well, the girls did anyway). This lends credence to my theory that he’s been cryogenically frozen for a decade somewhere in some remote, freezing cold part of northern Canada.
8:55 p.m. - We’re so close to being past the first hour. We get a promo for the new Idol attraction that’s coming to Disney World. David Cook and ZZ Top rock out to “Sharp Dressed Man.” Cook sounds totally on his game with this one. If he’s blown away by the fact that he’s standing in between the two bearded guys from ZZ Top, it’s not showing in his voice. Cut to Blake Lewis in the audience. This performance is followed by Mikalah Gordon and David’s music teacher cheering him on from via satellite from his hometown.
8:59 p.m. Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills & Nash) and Brooke White sit on stage playing acoustic guitars and singing “Teach Your Children Well.” Brooke’s voice sounds strong tonight and she seems much more confident than I remember her from her performances during the competition.
9:06 p.m. - A group of guys take the stage and start singing. I think they’re the Jonas Brothers. Not quite sure because Ryan said they need no introduction. He must be assuming we’re all 14-year-old girls who are too busy screaming over his intro anyway. Following this we get the video montage of all of the crappy auditioners from this season. Oh I totally forgot about the “Take it! Take it!” girl who resented Simon for rejecting her! One of the bad singers gets on stage wearing his weird white pimp-hat and cape and proceeds to make a fool of himself in front of millions of people by singing badly (again). Seriously, the montage was sufficient – a live performance including a marching band isn’t really necessary.
9:15 p.m. - I’m wondering if Fox has a way to measure how many people skip the first hour of this thoroughly stretched out finale and just tune in for the very end? We’re back from commercials and One Republic is on stage performing “Apologize.” Archuleta joins in during the performance and frankly, he sounds better than the lead singer with the exception of a few parts during the song when the lead singer belts out some notes. Cut to Matt Rogers in Salt Lake City surrounded by what appears to be the entire population of Utah.
9:22 p.m. - Jordin Sparks steps onto a pink-lit stage wearing a gold dress and starts singing “One Step at a Time.” She sounds great and performs with the confidence of a girl who’s had no trouble easing into stardom over the last year.
9:32 p.m. - Now we get an old video of Gladys Knight singing and performing backup are Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. This is likely to be a promotion for the summer movie, Tropic Thunder. Ryan says the money raised by downloading that video in iTunes will go to charity.
9:34 p.m. - Carrie Underwood gets on stage wearing what appears to be a white, dressed-up double-breasted suit jacket and nothing else. She’s pulling the look off and totally rocking with her performance of “Last Name.”
9:41 p.m. - Ok we’re getting closer to the end and it seems like Fox might’ve gotten wise to the fact that more people are probably watching at this point because it feels like the commercials are coming a bit more frequently. This includes the trailer for the new JJ Abrams series, Fringe.
9:43 p.m. - The final twelve take the stage and start singing “Faith.” Please let George Michael join them! They follow this up with “Father Figure” and then “Freedom” (which is my favorite George Michael song, so yay for that). I don’t know if it’s the sound or what but the timing sounds off during this part as the Idols trade off lyrics. They sound much better when they’re all singing together.
Ladies and gentleman, Mr. George Michael! He sings “Praying For Time.” A cheesy video of a sunset over the ocean is up on the screen behind him. George Michael sounds good but at this point, I’m just waiting for the results. C’mon! Get on with it already and bring on the confetti! The song goes on for an eternity (or what feels like it) and then Ryan announces that after the break, the new Idol will be crowned.
9:56 p.m. - Ok folks, this is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for! The Davids take the stage (and for some reason, they're dressed alike) and Ryan prepares to announce the results. The judges quickly throw in their two cents. Simon says after rewatching last night’s episode, he thinks he might’ve been a bit off with his assessment and that it was "verging on disrespectful” (in terms of the criticism he gave to Cook.) Then Ryan gets to the big announcement:
And the winner of this season of American Idol is: David Cook
Cook seems genuinely thrilled and thanks everyone. His parents and brother are on stage and they all hug. Now he sings the song that won the online contest. This song fits Cook perfectly and he’s managing to perform it well given the circumstances.
And that’s all she wrote. What say you, Idol viewers? Are you happy Cook won or were you hoping Archuleta would win?
Photos from the finale can be viewed here
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