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"American Idol": The Two Davids

For the first time since Clay vs. Ruben, two guys are competing for the "American Idol" tiara. To mark the occasion, "Idol" producers have dressed up the show like a boxing match. Yeah, preteen girls and middle-aged women -- the program's core audience -- they love boxing.

Particularly ringmaster Michael "Are You Ready to Rumble?!" Buffer, who introduces the two remaining Idolettes: David "Sugarfoot" Cook and David "Babyface" Archuleta.

Contestants David Cook and David Archuleta arrive for the "Battle Of The Davids." (Michael Becker/FOX)

David Cook demonstrates why a rocker should never ever make it to the Final 2 of this competition, losing all cred as he happily camps it up in a red satin robe and boxing gloves.

Baby Elmo, on the other hand, has the good sense to seem really uncomfortable and embarrassed shoved into a blue satin robe and boxing gloves.

Music industry mogul Clive Davis is back, babbling incoherently and looking like one of those dried-apple faces we used to make in Brownies. Best guest mentor ever Andrew Lloyd Webber is back, too, but this time he seems only slightly more coherent than Davis, thanks to some incredible slicing and dicing by the producers, who keep zipping back and forth between his comments and those of Davis and HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley.

Preteen girls love Lampley.

Host Ryan Seacrest has pulled out his most conservative three-piece Tony Randall suit for the occasion. The judges also are in their Sunday best -- Randy Jackson is wearing about 15 pounds of bling. Paula Abdul is bejeweled in glitter bracelet, glitter ring, pink glitter dress and glitter handbag she props on the judges' desk. Simon Cowell is wearing his trademark Il Divo outfit: snug black Italian-ish suit and white open-collared shirt, unbuttoned one button too many.

Seacrest mentions Baby Elmo winning last week's coin toss and opting to go second. He asks David C. how he feels. David C. smiles smugly, turns to the crowd of around 7,000 (they've moved the show to the [Cellphone Company] Theatre in downtown Los Angeles): "You guys tell me -- how does it feel?" Asked the same question, Baby Elmo has the good sense to respond, "It's a dream come true!" Baby Elmo is clearly in this to win.

Time for the American Idol Final Performance Show Judges' Opening Cliches.

Randy says the Two Davids have to leave everything on the floor in the battle for King of the [Cellphone Company] Theatre. Paula says they are in the [Cellphone Company] Theatre and everybody is loving the Two Davids, so they should soak it all up and may the best man win.

Clearly the producers cut a sweet deal for the theater on condition the judges mention its name on-air at least 15 times.

Simon says the Two Davids must each have the desire to win and must hate their opponent.

Do they hate their opponent? Seacrest wonders.

Baby Elmo says: "Umm, you know this guy's awesome. I wish him the best of luck." David C., on the other hand, says the show "has been amazing" and that Baby Elmo is one of those "consistently nice people" and as far as he is concerned the competition is over and "we're just having fun."

Round 1: Clive Davis Picks.

Lampley advises the Idolettes to pace themselves and don't use everything in the first round.

Cook is stuck with the tune "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

In honor of the important night, his Coroner Munchkin sideburns are back, but the rest of his hair has been made to stand up and look like a thatched roof.

Randy Jackson likes it -- the song, not the thatched-roof look -- plenty. Paula says he may not have found what he's looking for "but we've found it and it's David Cook, amen, amen!" Simon says that in light of how tense Coroner Munchkin/Thatched Roof looked at the top of the show this performance is "phenomenal." David C. cocks his head and gives his best stage Surprised Look.

Baby Elmo is stuck with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Webber tells him, "Don't let your eyes go shut on me!" and "you don't win anything if you're not brave." Ounce for ounce, this is the most cliche-jammed episode in "American Idol" history.

Baby Elmo largely ignores Webber's advice and yet the audience loves his performance -- so much so Randy says "Wow!" in re the applause.

Paula says the sun is never gonna go down on Baby Elmo he brings so much sunshine to the world with his beautiful sunny performance -- and then collapses from pun exhaustion.

Simon calls it Baby Elmo's best performance to date, adding, "Taking everything into account: Round 1 goes to Archuleta."

Round 2: Idolette-Chosen Treacle Tune

Lampley observes that winning a fight is like climbing stairs -- the second round is harder. Also, train hard and take care of your body because it's the first thing to go. Words for us all to live by, I might add.

Webber, on the other hand, thinks Coroner Munchkin/Thatched Roof needs to take care of his voice. CM/Thatched Roof picks a tune called "Dream Big," a perfectly decent rock tune for a bartender-cum-Idolette but hardly Treacle Tune worthy.

Randy believes CM/TR sang his face off and correctly notes it's the beginning of Round 2 of the Duel of the [Cellphone Company] Theatre.

Paula, on the other hand, insists CM/TR's song is in his heart and his guitar is in his hand. Simon, however, nicks him for choosing a tune lacking in treacle. "Bearing in mind it was supposed to be, like, a winning song, it didn't feel like a winning moment to me," Simon clarifies.

Baby Elmo picks "In This Moment," which in his capable hands proves to be the Mother of All Treacle Tunes. Driving home the point, he sings it while wearing a jacket with a big anchor on the front and the back. Webber hates the lyrics to Baby Elmo's tune -- particularly the bit about:

Staring through windows at my own reflection,
How can a window encompass perfection?

You can see his point.

Randy observes that Baby Elmo can sing the phone book. Paula declares him on fire. Simon calls the tune "fantastically self-centered" but "much more in keeping with the night," and adds: "Round 2 goes to David Archuleta."

Baby Elmo fights back tears -- good for another half a million votes.

Coroner Munchkin/Thatched Roof is in some kind of real trouble now.

Round 3: Idolettes Choice

Lampley says the first two rounds are about boxing, or something like that.

He's now white noise.

Coroner Munchkin/Thatched Roof picks "The World I Know" because, he later explains, it's all about "progression." But of course it's not. It's all about winning. By the end of the performance, he's crying. Paula gives him a standing ovation. Randy commends him for showing his "sensitive side." Paula says he's "standing in your truth."

Simon says CM/TR is one of the nicest and most sincere contestants ever on "Idol" but the song, while pretty, was "completely and utterly the wrong song choice for you on the night." He should have resung "Billie Jean" or "Hello" -- you know, one of his earlier showstoppers.

"Why do something I've already done?" CM/TR responds, patronizingly. In some circles this is called "taking a dive."

It's like Old Idol meets New Idol: Simon talking about what "American Idol" used to be -- bunch of wide-eyed kids get together and pick old tunes and sing their little hearts out -- and CM/TR is New Idol -- you don't necessarily want to win, runner-up is just as good and way cooler if you're a rocker and "performance night" is best handled as "audition tape."

But props to Simon for not fawning over Thatched Roof -- the more commercial singer of the two.

Baby Elmo, on the other hand, once again trots out his unstoppable performance of "Imagine." Of course he did. Otherwise he'd be like a production of "Dreamgirls" opting not to do the "And I Am Telling You That I Am Not Going" number.

After weeks and weeks of okay-not-great robotic performances, it's the "American Idol" storyline the judges love.

Randaula declares Baby Elmo the best singer we can find in the best season, and is otherwise speechless. Simon says, "You came out there tonight to win and what we have witnessed is a knockout."

It appears things may play out as they should after all. Baby Elmo needs to win this thing and get signed to an iron-clad contract, lest he wind up in some kind of Shelter for Victims of Stage Dads. Thatched Roof, meanwhile, needs to not win, so that he can go sell millions of CDs, like Chris Daughtry.

By Rose Jacobius  |  May 21, 2008; 7:26 AM ET
 | Tags: transfer  
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Next: "American Idol": David Slays David


I'm pretty sure the judges and producers agreed to go nutso over Disney David so he'll win. He's cute and has a great voice, but his complete lack of stage presence and personality can be cultivated. He's a blank slate, and they love that crap. Cool David is a done-deal, and he'll do just fine on his own. If Disney David wins, it's really a win-win.

But how boring was Disney David? By the time Imagine rolled around, it was ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. My husband commented that there was NO WAY he could listen to a whole album of that.

I love Cool David because it never sounds like karaoke. He's really good. My husband commented that he performs like a guy who writes his own music. High praise from my music snob of a husband.

Posted by: atb | May 21, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"Thatched Roof" -- LOVE THAT! I agree that Cook probably thinks he's better positioned as the runner-up so he can sell big as a rocker like Daughtry. But, I also heard that AI does not really want Elmo to win because they have to deal with his father whereas Cook is pretty agreeable to work with. So, they may have trashed Cook so he gets the sympathy vote. What is the deal with Elmo's dad? I just keep hearing scary stage dad but what does he do?

I don't think I can suffer through 2 hours tonight. I may just tune in for the last 10 minutes and then read this Thursday. Welcome back, Lisa, we missed you!!

Posted by: Ptfmot | May 21, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

My problem with Baby Elmo is that he while he certainly has an amazing voice, every song he sings sounds exactly the same. Am I the only one who noticed this? Apparently the judges think this is what constitutes talent.

Coroner Munchkin on the other hand actually has that thing rarely found on AI: ability. Hopefully CM will lose and move on to make a decent record that people will actually buy.

Posted by: fnht451 | May 21, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the assessment that its a win-win. Id hate for David Cook to win and be made to perform treacle-tunes.

Posted by: dc rulz | May 21, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and welcome back, Lisa. I didnt dish your sub, but I sure missed you!!!

Posted by: dc rulz | May 21, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Ptfmot in that I am definitely going to watch just the last 10 minutes of tonight's show. No way that it could (or should) last 2 hours. Puh-lease.

Last night I definitely got the feeling that the show is rigged. Baby Elmo was the same old same old, singing ballad after sensitive (ooh, let me close my eyes and squint... I'm like an American Andrea Bocelli, but I'm not blind, girls!) freakin' ballad. I think that AI is definitely setting him up to win because he is, as previously mentioned, a blank slate and will be easily manipulated to make tons of money for executives once his Dad is taken out of the picture.

But, wouldn't you want to see Baby Elmo lose, to watch Scary Stage Dad implode?

Anyways... so CM/TR comes in second. That's not so bad. I mean really, does anyone even remember who Daughtry lost to? David Cook has quite the career in front of him.

Posted by: con-e | May 21, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

oh yeah, and the whole boxing-theme? WTF was that?

Posted by: con-e | May 21, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

DialIdol says it's Cook in a landslide. ALW said you don't win unless you're brave, and then Archuleta sings "Imagine." Of course, for a Mormon to sing a song about an atheist collectivist anarchic utopia may be a bit brave, eh?
Cook knew the judges had it in the bag for Archuleta, and played along. Cook deserves the win.

Posted by: mark | May 21, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

LOL column Lisa! Honestly, I thought David A sounded the best last night. Would I buy his CD, no but he does have a lovely voice. David C - what a bunch of loser songs, nothing I'd buy on a CD either. Next year, the show needs to limit the calls or texts from one phone number-many good singers this season didn't get past the dreadlocked one who couldn't sing, period. Somehow, the show needs to "market" the fact that this is a singing contest. Obviously, the so-called fans out there have made it a popularity contest. So, to wrap up - may the best David win!

Posted by: WI | May 21, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I've been a Thatched Roof fan for ages now, and wanted him to win until last night.

I think your summary is correct. Baby David needs this way more than Cool David. (I personally had to mute "Imagine" last night. The disconnect between the wind-up toy singer and the meaning of the words is more than I can bear.) Whatever happens, I'll buy Cook's cd, and hopefully will never hear Archie again.

Posted by: Dianne | May 21, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Nice bus that Simon drove over Cookie. He spent two days praising him on Leno and Ellen and then pulled that stunt? I would call the night much closer to a draw, and certainly not a knockout.

More power to Cook for not rehashing a song he had already performed. Archie played it safe, and lazy.

Posted by: Jen | May 21, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I like David Cook seems like a nice guy to hang out with and he deserves better that AI.

I hope David A's father will truly be the "Stage Parent from Hell" to punish AI producers for such an awful season.

Posted by: Brooklyn | May 21, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"My problem with Baby Elmo is that he while he certainly has an amazing voice, every song he sings sounds exactly the same. Am I the only one who noticed this? Apparently the judges think this is what constitutes talent."


It's not just you, most people have been saying this since the first time he did "Imagine."

For me, Dog, at this point I have to judge them by what I would want to hear on the radio. WRT the treacle tune, Simon hated David C's but loved David A's. For me, If I was to come across those thwo songs on the radio, I would stay and give David C's song a listen. I would change the Channel on David A's song faster than you can say "open your damn eyes."

That said, I agree with Lisa at the end here: David A needs to win this to be sucessful, and David C arguably needs to not win to be successful. I know DialIdol has cook winning big, but between the above sentiment and the judges' posturing last night, look for David A to be named the winner.

They're going to have to do a major image overhaul on him, though. His core audience of Tween girls aren't going to shell out mommy and daddy's hard earned money to listen to the kind of stuff he's been singing for the last 3 months.

Posted by: Duffman | May 21, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Rather than throwing Cook under the bus, Simon actually did Cook a favor (did you see Simon wink at Cook after the 3rd song?). Simon is relying upon the "vote against Simon's choice" phenomenon. For every accolade he threw at Archie, Cook got another cache of votes. Cook by a landslide,

Posted by: John | May 21, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I think the age of the voters is significant: The older ones with more sophisticated tastes go for David Cook all the way. I thought he sounded fine last night: He shows way more range that David Archuleta, who should be shipped straight off to Disney for repackaging, or to Broadway for the Oliver revival. I feel guilty saying this...but he kind of annoys me. I don't know if I will even bother to watch the final show tonight. What could they possibly pull out of the hat? Nobody I'd really like to see, unfortuately.

Posted by: Karen | May 21, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Dial idol says David Cook? I am ambivalent about it and he seemed to be that way too. He's a winner no matter what happens and he knows it.
Duffman, you are absolutely right. DCs treacle song was much better. (missed last weeks' blog b/c I was out of the country but watched the DVR--so I have to comment...Did anyone notice that Simon used the term "treacle tune" and Ryan called DA, "Archie"? Do you think they read this column?) Anyway, I digress.
Randy must have shared Paula's cup last night. Did anyone notice after David Cooks first song that he said it was the best for the 2007 season? So Randy has flashbacks and Paula see the future. Those who have DVR or TIVO, watch it and then look at David Cs reaction. He wisely kept his mout shut.
Props also to David C for not repeating a prior performance. No need to rest on his laurels like David A. His performance last night was not as good as the first time. I cringed through the entire thing. Its almost over folks....hang in there!

Posted by: hodie | May 21, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I thought the writers did an admirable job writing Paula's responses. I wonder if they use cue cards...

Posted by: Ang's bro | May 21, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

They'll both get contracts, they'll both go on to be professional singers - so, frankly, who cares who wins?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is, every time Baby Squinty Eyes opens his mouth, I want to throw a brick through the TV screen. Seriously. If he wins, I hoppe he tanks faster than Taylor Hicks can say "soul patrol."

And, what was with that montage of Idol winners last night showing Chris Daughtry? Last time I checked, he wasn't the winner of his season? The sales winner, yes. The contest winner, no. Interesting packaging there AI.

Posted by: Uugh | May 21, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I thought David Archuletta performed better last night but David Cook wins. Watch and learn rookies.

Posted by: A lock | May 21, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"And, what was with that montage of Idol winners last night showing Chris Daughtry? Last time I checked, he wasn't the winner of his season? The sales winner, yes. The contest winner, no. Interesting packaging there AI."

I noticed that as well. They were like "two contenders vying for a title shared by only a select few." While they show Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and CHRIS DAUGHTRY???

"All I can say is, every time Baby Squinty Eyes opens his mouth, I want to throw a brick through the TV screen. Seriously. If he wins, I hoppe he tanks faster than Taylor Hicks can say "soul patrol."

Here's my thing. I hate to say it, but Archie is either a fake, or Semi-Retarded. The judges have been fawning all over him for the last 3 months, and he's STILL pulling the "What? Praise? OMG I'm shocked and amazaed that you are praising me!" act.

Posted by: Duffman | May 21, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I just want to note with great appreciation how funny this article is. You're absolutely hilarious, Lisa.

Posted by: blulapis | May 21, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

When they did the whole WWF intro last night, with the two guys in boxing robes and gloves, I guffawed.

DA can carry a tune and I would describe him as pleasant but not memorable. He is perfect for an AI treacle tune.

DC can not only carry a tune, but he actually has the ability to interpret songs and use a variety of techniques, from a sweet sound to a rocker growl.

I give DC props for being a big enough singer to take on a U2 song, doing his best with a substandard song in round 2, and choosing a song that had personal meaning for him in round 3. And for opting not to reperform an earlier song.

DA - what did he sing again in round 1, I forget. DA did a emo-ballad in round 2, big surprise (NOT!), and re-did Imagine. DA probably did what Daddy told him to do.

DA is limited in what songs work best for him, and I really don't think he has the emotional maturity yet to understand what he is singing or to attach feelings to songs.

DC on the other hand is far more versatile, and I liked that he redeemed the whole boxer moment by doing a Collective Soul song for his last performance.

I predict little David is going to win, but that his post AI career is going to go the way of Studdard, Hicks or Sparks.

Posted by: NW DC | May 21, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I'll tune in at 9:55 to see that Baby Elmo has won.

I think Cook's last two songs were deal breakers. When Cook plays the guitar while he's singing, he's not paying 100% attention to the song. But he'll do well in the private sector.

The tweens will carry the day for Baby Elmo to win, and he'll do well for at least the next five years.

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa... it's so good to have you back!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | May 21, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

American Idol wants someone they can package. And David A. is it. He's the guy who should be singing at Disney World in Orlando!!! Great voice, consistent performance, but no real depth to his talent. David C. on the other hand, is a rocker, and an artist. So tonight we'll see if the American Idol contest is about popularity (David A. almost made me gag when he was dancing around the stage saying, "oh, thank you, thank you" like a teenybopper version of Uriah Heep) or about talent, in which case David C. would win.

Posted by: pinky | May 21, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

My comments and thoughts mirror almost all of the above. The judges really surprised me by falling head-over-heels for Baby Elmo so openly. The guy is a great singer, no doubt. But ... David C. is so much more contemporary, IMHO.

David A.'s songs are extremely well-sung but you forget what he sings 2 seconds after he finishes his last note. I'll be somewhat disappointed when David A ascends to the AI mantle this evening, but consoled by the fact that college and pro football is only 3 months away. GO JMU!

Posted by: dallenva | May 21, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I think some of the comments here are pretty much accurate. David Cook is going to have a great career in front of him whether or not he wins. He's already released one solo album (and supposedly had a 2nd finished right before he auditioned for Idol). He's got songwriting skills, he's got a good voice and he's got stage presence. David Archuleta has a great voice - that's it. (well - that and a crazy stage dad!) David A seems like he's another pre-packaged artist straight out of one of Disney's tween series - and that's probably the only market that would buy his albums. David C. is a real musician, and while his voice might not exactly compare to David A., I believe he's got a much better chance at long-term success. btw, I *much* preferred his song choice in the 2nd round - I'd definitely pick that one up on an album, and hope that's the tune that he recorded this week for iTunes.

Posted by: DC | May 21, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"I predict little David is going to win, but that his post AI career is going to go the way of Studdard, Hicks or Sparks."

One of these things is not like the other...

Seriously, Jordin Sparks has done pretty well for herself. "Tattoo" enjoys heavy rotation on top-40 stations and has for 9+ months. Her 2nd single "No Air" is pretty much in the same situation.

If anything, it would be more appropriate to replace her with Fantasia in your comparison, if Archie gets anywhere near the commercial success of Jordin Sparks, I will be shocked.

Posted by: Duffman | May 21, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Two hour results? Seriously? No. way.

Posted by: Kris | May 21, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, I'm pretty sure that little Stepford idol David Enchilada will walk away with all of the AI booty. Like everyone elso on this thread, I can't wait to read about stage-dad-from-hell's passive-aggressive antics. I'm already salivating.

Lisa...our dearest are simply the best. You've managed to take something so utterly forgettable and turn into something that's actually kind of fun to tune in to. Love ya loads!

Posted by: Idoled Out | May 21, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

My roommate pointed out that David "oh my gosh I'm going to cry" Archuletta would put out a GREAT Christmas album, and I agree.

I also think that in about 20 years from now, he'll be the Rick Roll of 2030

Posted by: Done | May 21, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

My apologies for the typos in the previous thread...I really need to wear my glasses!

Sadly, I'm pretty sure that little Stepford idol David Enchilada will walk away with all of the AI booty. Like everyone else on this thread, I can't wait to read about stage-dad-from-hell's passive-aggressive antics. I'm already salivating.

Lisa...our dearest are simply the best. You've managed to take something so utterly forgettable and turn into something that's actually kind of fun to tune in to. Love ya loads!

Posted by: Idoled Out | May 21, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Every week I look forward to your reviews of the Idol shows as they're the most on target.

I didn't get the David Cook judge hate last night. He sounded great to me given that two of the three songs were really beyond his control. At least he tries to be a musician.

Baby Elmo on the other hand is like a songbot and the judges were pimping him like a presidential candidate. Wind him up and he squints and sings and shoots rainbows out of his ears. He has a lovely voice but isn't fully baked yet -- plus there's the Dadzilla issue.

Anyhow, I'd buy a David Cook song in a minute, not a Baby Elmo ever. Hopefully Simon was using reverse psychology on teh voters because he really harshed my buzz over Cook's performances.

Posted by: Lisa | May 21, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

My favorite moment was Cook saying "Why do something I've already done?" immediately followed by Archuleta redoing 'Imagine'.

Posted by: HP | May 21, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Lisa, for in this next to last column of AI season, introducing yet another great name: Thatched Roof!LMAO!. Almost as good as Cornoner Munchkin. And, I'm a Cook fan.

I share others' ambivalence. I like DC and loathe DA, though I must admit he has good voice - but the style, oops, what style?
His Imagine last night was not as good as first one because it lost simplicity and he went with warbling - phony singing. He also managed to acquire no further stage presence since last week. Same old stupid answers to questions.

The show was rigged for DA from get go: he had coveted 2nd spot; his Clive Davis song selection was a famous hit he could easily cover (vs. DC's nice one but obscure to an AI audience). DC's treacle tune was decent and his performance good. I gagged on first line of DA's - what a piggyback on that awful Kelly Clarkson song, "A Moment Like This." But it was sooo AI pageanty and obviously Randuala would love it. Simon was honest that DA's choice played to the "moment", just like singing Diamond's "America" was an audience suck-up.

I loved DC's comments about show being a progression and not wanting to repeat. Oh, snap! Surely, I thought, Simon will appreciate his originality. But, oh wait, Simon helped deliver the verdict: "KO for David A." Something was definitely up last night.

I hope I never again hear "you could sing the phone book." Instead, how about "you could sing the Pottery Barn Catalog!"?

The boxer thing is so cliched and cheesy - but predictable for AI producers. Last night was easily the 2nd worst show of the season (after Idol Gives Back).

I was stunned to see Dial Idol's prediction of a David Cook win. The numbers were stunning. Are there really that many people sick of Baby Elmo and Randuala's fawning over him? But will AI permit it? Oh, to see Scary Stage Dad's meltdown. Oh, to know that I can shop and not see Elmo squinting at me. This actually may be a cliffhanger.

Mark, loved your line: "Of course, for a Mormon to sing a song about an atheist collectivist anarchic utopia may be a bit brave, eh?" Totally agree, lol.

One bright spot in show: ALW AGAIN saying Elmo must not close eyes. You could see Elmo trying hard during one of songs not to, and then blinking furiously to try to keep them open. Also, loved ALW for AGAIN discussing the importance of knowing one's lyrics. Ya think? That is problem with Elmo, his goal is to sound pretty, but there is no texture, phrasing, or emphasis that makes it great singing.

So will AI make the 12 do a tacky group number? And why do the 12 have to show up but only top 10 get tour. If I were David H. and Amanda, I'd boycott. Talk about exploitation. Actually, I look forward to seeing those two plus Carly and Michael Johns again. Hope they get a chance to rock one more time.

Posted by: Idle fan | May 21, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"Here's my thing. I hate to say it, but Archie is either a fake, or Semi-Retarded. The judges have been fawning all over him for the last 3 months, and he's STILL pulling the 'What? Praise? OMG I'm shocked and amazaed that you are praising me!' act."

Duffman -- thank you for saying what I've been telling my friends for months. I seriously think Archie IS mildly-retarded. Either that, or he's Pinnochio not fully come to life -- half wooden puppet, half real boy.

Posted by: Uugh | May 21, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone mentioned that Archuleta is singing Eva Cassidy's version of "Imagine"? And, not as well?

Posted by: Ike | May 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

So did anyone else notice there was a screen with scrolling lyrics on it during David A's songs? You could see it twice! It was probably there for Cook's too. I guess they didn't want any lyric flubs!

Posted by: Carrie-Okey | May 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The problem with Archie is he has no soul. He is 17 and lived a very protected life, while technically sound, he is easily forgetable. Cook tried to take a dive last night, but was still way better than Archie.

Loved your columns, Lisa, keep up the great work.

Posted by: Javk | May 21, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Gotta be honest ...

Though David Cook was a strong contender all season, he really fell flat last night.
He did a fairly awful & lazy rendition of the U2 song. The second song was forgettable pop crap, and he didn't do it any justice. The third song was dark and depressing, though it was his best offering IMO.

David Archuleta hit all the right notes last night. First song was done really well, rivaling Elton John. 2nd song was forgettable pop crap, but he really elevated it with his vocal stylings. Imagine: I wish he had tried something he hasn't sung before 1,000 times (check out Youtube), but he really knocked it out of the park (sang it better than earlier in the season).

Baby Elmo should win hands-down.

Lisa DeMoraes ... There is NO subsitute

Posted by: Cook's Hair Musser | May 21, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

the fix was in. question is, who did the fixing?

none of Cook's three songs were standouts -- none of the nifty rearrangements or "big note" moments. Archie got Elton John and repeated his best song of the season.

so... did Idol's puppetmasters order Cook to soft-pedal it, or did DC himself decide to (as Lisa cleverly notes) take a dive, knowing that the "Idol" label is the end of whatever cred he has?

Too bad, then, that DialIdol is saying we saw through it.

Posted by: sotapop | May 21, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I was really disappointed by Cook last night. His song selection just wasn't hitting it for me. Archie did well last night. He could be the next Elton John or Phil Collins. He should stick to that. His dancing last week with that Chris Brown song was utterly laughable. He should never attempt to dance again. But those comments from the judges were not fair to Cook (even though they were true). Ever since Carly and Michael Johns got voted off early (while stinky singers like Brooke and Jason tortured us) it's really been David v. David. Cook should have reminded us of his best like "Hello" and "Billie Jean." Sorry, Cook. Bad night.

Posted by: dcp | May 21, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused (and not just about how these two were the "best" AI could find)...

Can someone explain to me Round 2? Round 1 Clive Davis picked the songs (were both songs Clive Davis-produced? I was assuming they were.) Round 3 were picked by the Davids (and, in past AI years, were limited to songs they'd done during the season, right?). Round 2--were they originals? Covers? Picked by whom?

Please help me decipher last night, since AI didn't do a very good job of it...

Posted by: Lisa | May 21, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

What I REALLY REALLY wanted to hear was the SAME AI treacle song performed by both Davids. It's the only reason I watched last night. I wanted Cool David to embarrass Disney David.

Posted by: atb | May 21, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Round 1: Cook by a slim margin
Round 2: Archuleta by a slim margin
Round 3: Cook by a wide margin

The problem with performing a song you've already done is that you run the risk of paling by comparison; and Archuleta wasn't anywhere near as good with "Imagine" as he was earlier in the competition. I appreciated Cook daring to do something new, and personally I thought his third song was fantastic.

Cook is going to win this thing. By a large margin.

And Lisa, these aren't the best to "American Idol" could find. "American Idol" found 24 people out of tens of thousands, and then the "American People With Speed Dialers" winnowed those down to the final two.

Posted by: Duodenum | May 21, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Hodie -

I not only noticed that Randy thought it was 2007, I could have sworn that what Paula actually said to David A. was "nobody and nothing is ever going to go down on you".

But then I rewound the DVR and realized she really said "sun" - "The SUN is never going to go down on you". I came to the conclusion I'd done one of those Gestalt things where you mentally fill in the blanks and what I thought I heard was what Paul was actually THINKING.

And if I am now trance channeling what Paula is actually thinking - then it's time for someone to drive a stake through this show's heart. Quick.

Posted by: Jean | May 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

David A was always going to win. That's been clear from Hollywood week. The simple fact is that 13 year old girls, who don't pay the bills for their cell phones, will text vote 1,000,000,000,000,000 time more than anyone else. This is also how the movie Titantic became the top grossing film of all time. Nothing can stop the power of pre-teen girls.

David C SHOULD win, but he won't. BUT, he will have the bigger career after AI.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Baby Elmo on the other hand is like a songbot and the judges were pimping him like a presidential candidate. Wind him up and he squints and sings and shoots rainbows out of his ears. He has a lovely voice but isn't fully baked yet -- plus there's the Dadzilla issue."

Lisa! LMAO! Are you perhaps THE Lisa?

Posted by: hodie | May 21, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Once again I have to ask - Why are you David Cook fans all so Bitter? It's kind of strange........

Posted by: BlakeVA | May 21, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The difference is that most Archuleta fans I know talk about how good he is and how much they like his performances.

David C fans are obsessed with David A and his father.

Posted by: BlakeVA | May 21, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't think any DC fans are bitter. In fact, I'd bet money that most DC fans don't care if he loses. The guy has a better shot at a successful career if he LOSES. We've all watched enough AI to know the formula and to see what happens.

And yes, DA is good but hello? Could he be more boring?

Posted by: bitter? | May 21, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"The difference is that most Archuleta fans I know talk about how good he is and how much they like his performances."

I haven't talked to any David A fans personally, but that's because I'm not really into hanging out with 12-14 year old girls. They bother me.

Posted by: Duffman | May 21, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Lot's of people can sing well. To pull it off on stage, you have to be good, but there is very little talent from this show I would define as great, and certainly not amazing. This show is just a total load of cow pies, but I enjoy reading Lisa's take on it.

Take time out to listen to some of the great vocalists of the last century - then tell me just how great these twerps are.


Posted by: MoonDog1 | May 21, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

fnht451: No, you're not the only one who has noticed, as you said, "while he [Baby Elmo] certainly has an amazing voice, every song he sings sounds exactly the same." I've noticed this too. I don't know if it is his youth, or if he has had a sheltered life, or what. But I just never get the feeling that he has any feel for what the songs he sings actually mean. To me, a song tells a story. Baby Elmo misses the story.

Posted by: Enjoy Every Sandwich | May 21, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I've not yet read all the comments, so maybe someone else touched on this -- but WHY did Simon tell Leno and Ellen that Cookie should win, and then turn around and toss him under the bus? Good lord, kid didn't deserve that.

Dial Idol sez Cookie will win. Man, I'm conflicted. I want him to go out and be another Daughtry. But the idea of Baby Gizmo (Elmo, whoev) winning this thing is just appalling. What, are they going to get him a contract to sing elevator music?

Posted by: Lane | May 21, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Amazing to me that people here at the hyper-elitist Snark Tank actually believe that little Archie will lose. Sometimes this place reminds me of the smugly superior and isolated Manhattan liberals who actually thought Kerry would win in '04 and actually delude themselves that Obama will tis time, mostly on the basis that all their friends think so too.

Posted by: Christin | May 21, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The prospect and impact of a David A. victory reminds me of a line from Gilbert & Sullivan's "Ruddigore," where a character plots revenge on a series of portraits. "I will give them all to the Nation, and nobody shall ever look upon their faces again!" That's his fate. David C. wasn't at the top of his game last night, and it almost seemed deliberate, the (genuine) tears notwithstanding. He won't lose; he'll be spared execution.

Posted by: JD | May 21, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Just a few random musings as I catch up...

First, DialIdol has David C by a landslide, but their numbers are based on a statistical analysis of client users who use their software to computer speed-dial their votes in and count the busy signals. Then they use a statistical model based on the time zone that the phone call is coming from to weight the numbers relative to the normal volume of calls from those regions. It is relatively accurate but still just a statistical model and can vary quite a bit. The margin of error is actually reasonably well computed and even the MOE has David C ahead. Note that DialIdol does not include any information from text voting which is increasingly becoming a significant factor in the voting.

On the other hand, zabasearch which does include both phone and text data (and I do not know how they get their data) also has David C winning by a slim margin (something like 33M to 31M votes for DavidA). We'll see. Last week, zabasearch only recording about 41-42M votes and Seabiscuit claimed that there were 56M votes, so I don't know how much discrepency there will be.

I have a feeling that the American public don't really pay too much attention to the judges when voting. There is frequently a deviation from what the judges say and what the public do. The vast majority of the DC/DA fans had already decided before the show. The real question is how will the Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro blocks vote. They are clearly going to be king-makers here. I think that the Captain Cosmo fans are more likely to favor the fresh/creative DC than the iconic pop-star DA. Broadway Babe's fans are harder to guess. They like flashy so DA's melismatic singing will appease them, but his stiff robotic movements will turn them off. They will like DC's sheer on-stage magnetism and charisma, but his modern edginess may turn them off.

Last, regarding Jordin Sparks compared to Fantasia. This is not even close. Fantasia's first album went platinum and sold 1.8M. Her second album is gold and sold over 500M and included 3 grammy nominations. She had a very successful Broadway run (and extended the life of THE COLOR PURPLE because of her marketability) and is now a very recognizable and marketable quantity in the show business market. She is getting set to put out her third album late this year with a mix of broadway tunes, American Idol tunes and new music. Based on how much she increased box office sales of THE COLOR PURPLE, this one should have no problem selling well. Jordin Sparks on the other hand has one album that has sold 741M solds and has not yet been certified gold by RIAA. At the rate that it is selling (20-30K every month or so), it looks like it will stall well short of 1M probably somewhere around 800-850K. Enough to make Taylor Hicks drool, but not Fantasia. She is touring as the opening act for Alicia Keys. She has a long way to go to catch Fantasia's train.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 21, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

ugh. That was an utterly disappointing final. I voted for Cook to make him suffer at the hands of the baked apple Davis. I'm so sick of Archuleta's one dimensional performances (over him by week 3). He's not going to be a money maker for very long for 19 Entertainment. Though, 19 Entertainment deserves every headache that Stage Dad will bring with him (since little David is still a minor) in exchange for pimping their favored contestant.

I'll be happy with an upset. Just don't expect me to tune in much before 10 minutes sort of the closing credits.

Hopefully next year won't be so dull.

Posted by: cmj | May 21, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

That was a great recap, Lisa--very satisfying (and hilarious, as always) after a very good show. You are extremely right about Cookie's "thatched roof" hairstyle... personally, I really liked the "ear-tails" he had during his Top 12 (I think?) week; I think that must have been the style that got him dubbed "Coroner Munchkin" by you, but it was a lot hotter than the increasingly unkempt, grungy look he's been sporting these days. A little 5 o'clock shadow is hot, but he was looking rather like a lumberjack by the finale last night... ^^;;;

Yes, the boxing thing--wtf?! You were much too kind to Lampley--he was "white noise" to me from the first time he opened his mouth. Having just come from an action-packed and thrilling (and SUPREMELY satisfying--Go, Krisit!!) DWTS finale, the boxing thing was just... stale. =__=; Happily, the Davids brought their game and made it a finale worth getting excited over.

Especially Prince Archuleta--he's back!! (What on earth happened to him in between there? The pressures of fame? Stage Dad going berserk?) But last night, I was so happy to see it was our dearest Archuleta back again, just as brilliant and aglow with that sincere joy to be performing like he was in the beginning.

Going into tonight, I had thought nothing could shake my votes for Cookie; since he's got that fabulous, mature and stage-ready presence and album-ready voice, I thought he'd better win. I still think he'll likely sell more records overall since he's already got a solid musical style and persona and won't end up getting shoved into a blah pop mold, but I do think Archuleta has that extra something (insane cute factor? Scary Stage Dad's threatening shadow looming overhead?) that makes me want to see him win tomorrow night. After all, he had the better performances all night, IMO, and, as Lisa noted, Cookie is so cool and stardom-ready that he doesn't need to win to be a huge hit.

Thus, I voted Archuleta and will have my fingers crossed for him tonight!

Posted by: Cy | May 21, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could be cool and say that I'm only tuning in for the last 10 minutes tonight. But I that I'll probably watch the whole thing and hate myself in the morning.

There is a certain Simon "curse" no doubt. If he fawns on someone, they usually lose their standing. So whoever suggested that he hammered Cookie so that he'd win, well, Dial Idol says that's right. We'll see. Kinda hope it isn't. But surely Clive would give DC songs that are marketable with his voice, no? NO?

Didn't record last night -- can others confirm that Simon really did wink at Cookie after his song 3?

Posted by: Lane | May 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I pretty much agree with all of the above. If it's about the overall package then Cook will win. If it's about who AI can attempt to market it'll be Archie. Plan to see DA on the Disney channel asap.

It really drove me nuts when they showed Daughtry in that little montage.

Did anyone else think that DA's 2nd song sounded a whole lot like a Kelly Clarkson song? A Moment Like This anyone?

Posted by: klong6 | May 21, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

(Been in meetings all day! drat you work, mortgage, etc.!)

Hodie, I too noticed Randy's slip up. Yeah, for sure he too was drinking some of Paula's Happy Juice.

John, you're right - I think Simon did do a huge favor to DC by being so snarky to him last night. I also caught the wink, and after thinking about it twice, DC's better off coming in second.

Cracked me up when Baby Elmo nearly hyperventilated after songs #2 and #3. Like Whitney Houston used to say, "I Get So Emotional, Baby ...."

Let's face it, Baby Elmo is more radio palatable for a large proportion of today's stations. Not to say that DC wouldn't rock out an arena on his own, but Archuleta has the more mainstream sound. And that's what the AI suits want, because it translates into $.

Posted by: jpstang | May 21, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

then I am happily not in the mainstream but whomever wins, I wish them well.

Posted by: hodie | May 21, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

David Cook flubbed his lyrics last night too...on his 2nd song, he was supposed to say, "If you don't dream big" first, then "if you don't have faith" second. He sang, "If you don't have faith" twice. Silly that I even noticed, but they have ALL screwed up, not just David A. and Brooke. I like them both, but prefer David A. to the whole rocker vibe. I also don't like how Cook tends to yell some note right at about the same time during every song. Except that third BORING was that song???

Posted by: Orlando fan | May 21, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Amen, Hodie. Since when is living in an "isolated" area a prerequisite to not having all your taste reside in your mouth??!!

I actually know quite a lot of people inside the beltway - some of them living along the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor - who downright fit this definition of "elitist".

Then again - you might not want to trust my assessment. I moved to NoVA from, er, Manhattan.

I still don't remember any character in the recent HBO "John Adams" miniseries shouting, "Give me mediocrity - or give me death!" But apparently that was revisionist history written by . . . "elitists".

Posted by: Jean | May 21, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Reading over the comments here (and today's live blog)it reminds me that this year's show was boring and bland compared to last two (only other ones I watched).

Actually, I got hooked on AI because I thought Simon was hysterical. Then last year, got into Lisa's column.

One of things missing is so few great big voices. Music choices were boring too, despite Beatles song book which I had looked forward to.

But I think part of problem is that Randuala is beyond-amusing-horrible. I swear if I hear "zone", "dawg", "crazy,mad vocals", "truth", "authentic", "phone book", again, I'll flip. I don't mute them, because I don't want to lose context for Simon's comments, but I think part of show's problem now is that they are such bad judges. Why watch and be frustrated by them? REALLY folks, this show would be improved w/o them.

The contestants are just amateurs so deserve some slack, but Randy and Paula have got to go. I don't believe we need them for this show to be fun. For contrast, look at the intelligent chemistry of the DWTS's judge panel.

Posted by: Holly | May 21, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

But Holly, that "intelligent chemistry" on DWTS is scripted -and delivered by an older demo to an older demo in a later time slot.

Aside from the snark factor, many of the comments on DWTS are R or NC-17 - and furthermore, participants are routinely required to writhe with other participants while wearing bedsheets (a recent Karina/Mario number comes to mind) - if not outright date them.

Last but not least, DWTS has a mature host who is a devilish quipster - not a hostbot wound up by a big key in the back.

It's apples and oranges. AI is "The Good Ship Lollipop" and DWTS is practically the QE2 in comparison.

Not that I wouldn't dearly LOVE to have had Clive Davis or somebody require David A. to sing that Usher song about doing something to somebody and giving something to somebody all night long - while simultaneously performing hip hop moves with a bevy of scantily clad writhers (as opposed to "back up singers") - but I just don't see it happening any more than Shirley Temple ever got jiggy wit it. Sigh.

Posted by: Jean | May 21, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

So the worst part about it being the finale, is no more lisa now. =( I had such a hard time last night. I actually watched and couldn't bring myself to vote for Baby Elmo, He makes me want to kill bunnies with my car or something. And everytime he opens his mouth to speak I can't stand it. He sounds fine, But if I see him mouth GOSH again... And Cook was Amazing! I would buu his CD anyday. But I hope he doesn't win, that comes along with the Curse of winning AI.
And I was glad I wasn't the only one who notice Daughtry in the AI winners pics. I mean he came in fourth.

Posted by: SRS | May 21, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

You know, I could really use some random musings re-posted 20 times ... If only ... (sigh)

Posted by: . | May 21, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I thought David A did a little better than David C last night. Cook wasn't up to his usual standards. I do give him credit for not repeating a song he sung previously.

The judges comments about David A just don't fit into reality. Its been that way the whole season. David A can do no wrong. Carly, Syesha, and sometimes even Michael Johns were graded on a much higher standard.

Why must the judges tell us who to vote for and what to think? Can't they be more subtle with their narrative? They sound like opinion columnists in a country with no freedom of the press.

Posted by: American Idol Fan | May 21, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse


I don't like DA very much - won't buy his CDs, go see his shows - and I think DC has a reasonable amount of talent - a good idea of what works and a real feel for telling a story though a song, not just hitting the moments.

That said, I think DC wiffed last night - but DAs take on the Elton song was probably the only fully formed performance, he hits his notes solidly and reliably, and was worth the praise heaped on him.

The U2 song isn't that melodic, and DC lacks Bono's ernest conviction (always reminds me of Spitting Image's "I still don't know what I'm On About" every time I hear it), the treacle song is a gimme to DA unless radically reworked and DC's third song was in fact the wrong choice - it was a point to go big, to wow, and he didn't. I respect the choice not to repeat, but it missed the old show biz maxim of "leave 'em wanting more".

Posted by: kdt | May 21, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I was right again.

Posted by: Duodenum | May 21, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I am really glad to see David Cook win,he didnt pretend to be someone that he wasnt.The other one thought he had it won. Congrats David Cook.

Posted by: bmaw | May 21, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

"and the winner is...."

End Program

Gee thanks American Idol. Couldn't you have at least introduced the winner within the aloted time frame.

Posted by: DVR Cut Out | May 21, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

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