Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol Season 7 - Top 2 - The Grande Finale

Well, this is it! The last performance show of the season. What a trip that was! I have to admit that, coming out of Season 6, where I thought the cast was so lovable - I was really invested in Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis - I didn't believe the "this cast is the best yet!" hype of the beginning of the season. Maybe now that the season is almost over and that we are about to crown a new American Idol, my mind is not as clear as it could be... But I now believe the hype. This WAS the most talented season so far. Not because there were no talents in prior years - there was, and talent that will be hard to surpass (think Clarkson, Underwood, Daughtry), but because there was a heck of a lot of talent on this season. Michael Johns, Carly Smithson, David Hernandez, Chikezie... I expect many from this season will get record deals.

Back to last night's performance show... This was so bittersweet for me! One the one hand, I am thrilled to see this show coming to an end. I've invested so much of my time, energy and love this year that it's time for a break. On the other hand... I don't want it to end! I want to see Cookie on my tv screen every week for the rest of my life. At the same time, I know full well this is only the beginning for this young, talented man. Cliche much? Maybe. But it's the goddamn truth!!!

Alright alright, enough stalling and filler - AI taught me well, n'est-ce pas? - on with the show!!!

Many thought that the boxing analogy AI used to describe both contestants was cheesy and totally ridiculous. I have to admit to the cheesiness of it all. But you know what? I enjoyed it all immensely at the same time. I was so incredibly nervous for Cook - had been for many hours prior to the show, much to my total dismay - and this little silly skid with Michael Buffer introducing "The Real Deal" David "Sugar Foot" Cook and David "Babyface" Archuleta gave me a moment of much needed relief. Gotta say, Cook looked good with those gloves. And the moves? Not bad either.

Ok, ok, the show....

The snarky bitch in me laughed out loud when Ryan, who narrated the contestants introduction package, mentioned that 2 "men" were vying for the price. Two men? Really? Hum, in my opinion, there was ONE man and one kid. I'll let you guess which one is which. And no, the kid is not Simon.

Advice from the judges before we start? "Leave it all out there", "Soak it all up", "May the best man win" and "You gotta hate your opponent". Wow, gimme 10 millions a year, I'll give you advice like that every freaking day of the week!

Ooooooooooh Archuleta....

And David Cook opens the show!!! Is Ryan wearing guy liner?

Round 1 - Clive Davis Choice

I found what the mentors - Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber - had to say to be really interesting. Clive explains his song choice for Cook by saying he was looking for a song with lyrics expressing the yearning of generations for answers, for spiritual guidance, for the meaning of life... And then all he says about Archuleta's choice is that it's a great song by Elton John and Tupin? Then Webber goes on to tell Cook that he has the vocal ability to pull this off, that he only needs to be brave. And to Archie? That he needs to keep his eyes open. ???

David Cook - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2

David looked so calm and happy. Cook's vocals were very strong and totally rocked this anthem like song! He changed the phrasing a bit to suit his style better, and added a bit more heavy guitar than the original. Going into the crowd was a good idea, too. He looked confident, and I think this was a very solid performance from Cook. He seemed happy with himself, clapping and pumping his fist. Cook is the only one to have ever done a U2 song in a performance show on Idol (yes, I know, Yamin sang One on the final result show).

Randy enraged me from the get go: "I don't know if you did everything you could do with it". Why is Cook expected to change up all his songs when Archie stays in his comfortable little box is beyond me. I for one am glad he didn't change it too much - he would have been crucified for changing an "anthem. You don't touch songs like that" - I can hear it. *sigh* Paula found Cookie: "David Cook has arrived, Amen, Amen, men." Simon thought it was "phenomenal".

David Archuleta - Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me - Elton John

I so did not want to hear Archie sing that song. I really didn't think he could pull it off properly. Well, I need to eat my words. He did it with lots of soul, and everything he's got inside. He produced a few bum notes, but you know what? I loved them. I loved them because it showed how much he was reaching inside and how much of himself he was pouring in that song. He finally connected with the lyrics! I think by far and away this was his best performance of the whole season.

Randy is so far up Archie's ass it'[s not even funny. His talking over Paula "crazy" really bugged me. Paula "The sun is never going down on you" made me chuckle. Simon was right on the money.

HOWEVER - I think round 1 is a tie.

Round 2 - Contestant Choice from Writing Contest Entries

The guys were given the 10 best entries from the song writing contest and were able to choose a song amongst those for themselves. Webber is worried about Cook's voice, and he tries to make Archuleta to reflect on the meaning of the lyrics of his song. "No one is going to take this away from me", says Archie. "If you are gonna go, go for the gold", says Cookie.

David Cook - Dream Big - Emily Shackelton

With his trusty Les Paul in hand, Cook serves us an unusual coronation song. Unusual in the sense that it is not the typically sweet, sappy, cheesy song AI has been offering us for the last 6 seasons. And I really am enjoying it!!! It's hard to do a song that no one knows and make the public fall in love with it. But I think Cook did a great job. He chose a song that is right up his alley and totally show us what kind of artist he is. I thought it was a refreshing choice amongst the cheesy wanna be inspirational typical AI songs. It takes one hope - To make the stars worth reaching for - So reach out for something more... Cook's voice was a bit tired, but he gave it his all, and it was awesome!

Randy didn't like the song but thought Cook was singing his face off. Eh. Paula loved it, while Simon thought it was a lightweight. He didn't feel like it was a winning moment for him. Paula's "It was not the winning song!" really confused me at first. Now I know that the song that won the song writer competition will be performed by the winner on the final result show.

"I feel guuuud, I'm playing for 7000 people so..." - Cook

David Archuleta - In This Moment - Ryan Gillmor

And there is the cheesy, predictable ballad that AI usually favors. It was another "Inside Your Heaven I'm Having My Now Moment" kind of song, and I really hated it. I'll be honest and admit that Archie sang it really well, and those lyrics really fitted him well. I wanna be in this moment, no one can take it from me...

Randy is, if possible, crawling even further up Archie's ass. His face will appear in Archie's mouth if he keeps going up. Paula loved it. Simon loved the egoistical lyrics. He thinks he chose the better song. Wha???? Simon, there is not enough space in Archie's ass, Randy's taking it all up!

Realistically, I'll give Round 2 to Archie. I personally preferred Cook's song, but I am not naive enough to believe that most of America liked the better song. They went for the one that felt safe and familiar. So slight advantage to Archie.

Round 3 - Contestant Choice

David and David chose their songs for this third round. They could choose to sing a new song or something they've done previously in the season. Webber advised Cook to mke his song "more of a cry of passion" and Archuleta to "make people believe what you're singing". Archie will reprise his best performance of the season, Imagine by John Lennon, while Cook will do a song he has been wanting to do for a while now, but had not - The World I Know, by Collective Soul. "They have to sing like it's their very, very last night on the show", says Andrew Lloyd Webber. Dude didn't get the memo that IT IS their last night on the show. *roll eyes*

David Cook - The World I Know - Collective Soul

David saved his strongest, most beautiful performance of the night for last. The simple, understated arrangement really allowed his voice to shine in all its wonderful glory. He had everything in that performance - soft caressing vocals, gritty powerful notes, fantastic falsetto, emotional delivery... I really loved this one. And his tears at the end, no matter what they were for... They were real, honest, genuine and it just makes me love him even more. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Has our conscience shown?
Has the sweet breeze blown?
Has all the kindness gone?
Hope still lingers on.
I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in new york city
And I dont know why.

Are we listening to hyms of offering?
Have we eyes to see that love is gathering?
All the words that Ive been reading
Have now started the act of bleeding into one.

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below.
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down.
'Cause it's the world I know.
Ooooh it's the world I know.

Randy, yo, yo, SHUT UP! Let him have his moment!!! He's got a point tho - Cook showed us a lot of different sides to his artistry, and I for one am grateful for that. Paula is giving him a well deserved standing ovation. Simon says Cook is one of the most genuine, nicest guy they've ever had on the show. And then he goes on to being "honest", saying it was a beautiful song but not the right choice of song for Cook on the night. Simon thinks David should have reprise "Hello" or "Billy Jean". Cook explains that for him, the show has been a progression, and that doing something he's done before would have been going backwards when all he wants is to go forward. Simon Cowell, shut up. Your Cookie Love Train card has been revoked.

David Archuleta - Imagine - John Lennon

While I thought Archie did a great job with it the first time around, I really didn't like his take on it last night. Yes, he sang it really well, and I felt he connected more with the lyrics this time around. But this song does NOT need all the runs he injected in there. Totally unnecessary. Me no likey.

Randy made me throw up in my mouth, seriously. Paula loved it. Simon crowned him right there.

Ryan, you are a beautiful man, and I'd do you in a heartbeat, but the guyliner really doesn't work for you.

Round 3 - Cook, all the way baby.

It was interesting to me to see how both Davids reacted after each of their performances. Cookie always seemed happy, calm, at peace, like he's having fun. Archie, on the other hand, was really emotional after each performance, panting and holding back tears. The poor guy looked like he was about to throw up, faint and shit his pants all at the same time. I admired Cook's poise throughout the show, but have to admit that Archuleta's obvious desire for the gold really tug at my heart strings.

As far as the performances tonight. I think both came out swinging for the fences and did really well in their own rights. Archie is not my cup of tea, but I can recognize the kid is talented. In my opinion, he's not quite ready yet, but he'll have a career... A very successful career indeed, be it with the crown of the next American Idol or not on his head. But tonight, I felt that while he sang the crap out of all his songs, he didn't stretch himself, or didn't show anything new. It might have been a good strategy - stick to what you know - or not - not showing growth. David Cook, on the other hand, constantly showed how original he is, and how much he has grown during the competition. His last statement in regards to his song choice of Collective Soul "This whole show was a progression for me, why do something I've already done" says it all. The guy's got mad talent, he's brave and original and doesn't compromise. I admire that in him. He showed us different sides of himself tonight, and it really contrasted with the one dimensional opponent that is Archie. Cook showed us his soul, showed us what he is all about, and I for one love him for it all. You've got a fan for life in me, David Cook.

Tonight promises to be a great show - duets with mentors, many idol alumni singing, the So You Think You Can Dance dancers, as well as many celebrities and of course, our top 2... Tonight, the next American Idol will be crowned.

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