Tonight's American Idol kicks off with the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" guy introducing David Cook and David Archuleta like they are boxers, complete with silk robes. So which one of these Davids will take the Idol title?
Depends on how things go tonight, with three rounds of songs.
David Archuleta won the coin toss a few days ago, and will go second.
The first songs were chosen by Clive Davis.
For David Cook, he's picked "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and for David Archuleta, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
Cook is first. He starts out quiet, and unlike last week's softer starts, his tone is strong and he sounds great. About halfway through, the band comes in, and he ramps it up, too. Nice choice by Mr. Davis. Judge Randy Jackson says it was "a great way to start this duel of 2007" (um, whoops), and that even though he isn't sure David did everything he could with it, it was still "hot, baby." Judge Paula Abdul, "We have found David Cook. ... You are in great voice tonight." Judge Simon Cowell says at the top of the show he looked tense and emotional, and, "taking all of that together, that was phenomenal."
Then, it's Archuleta's turn. He does a nice job with it, showing more emotional range than usual, though the bouncing around the stage is a tad awkward. But another good song choice. Randy says it doesn't matter what happens, that this was one of the best performances of the season, and he had "crazy hot molten vocals." Paula says her heart is still pounding and that "that was a beautiful, stunning performance." Simon says it's easy to get overexcited tonight, adding that last week he was "OK," but that this performance was the best he's sounded so far. "Round one goes to Archuleta," who looks like he is going to bawl.
Round two, each of the David's gets to choose from among the Top 10 finalists from the Idol songwriting competition.
David Cook is singing "Dream Big" by Emily Shackleton and David Archuleta's is "In This Moment" by Brian Gomar. (I'm guessing on those name spellings.)
Cook hits the stage for "Dream Big," guitar in hand. It's a fairly cheesy pop-rock song, but at least they had some variety to choose from. Cook wouldn't have had much fun with "A Moment Like This" or "This is My Now," I don't think. Randy says the song was just OK, but he tells David, "You were singing your face off!" Paula says it was mesmerizing and congratulates him. Simon says he made the most of what he had to work with, adding that it's supposed to be "a winning song, but it didn't feel like a winning moment."
Then, Archuleta. Not surprisingly, the cheesy ballad works much better for him, though the backup singers kind of overwhelm his sound except during the big notes. Randy says again for him, he wasn't crazy about the song, but, as usual, "you are so in the zone, you could sing the phone book." Paula says it's pure magic. Simon says he loved the self-centered lyric, and that he picked the better song for sure. "Round two," Simon says, "goes to Archuleta."
The final round is contestant's choice. David Cook is singing "The World I Know" by Collective Soul, and David Archuleta goes with "Imagine."
David Cook brings out the acoustic guitar for this one and gives a nice, not overblown, performance of the song. Afterward, he tears up almost immediately. Randy says one of the cool things about him is that he is showing a lot of different sides, and it was good to see his sensitive side. "Very nice job, dude." Paula says he is "standing in your truth" and she stands and applauds him. Simon says he is one of the nicest and most sincere contestants they have ever had. He adds that it was a beautiful song, but it was the wrong song choice for tonight. David says the whole thing has been a progression, so he wanted to do something new, but he understands what Simon is saying.
The last song of the night is David Archuleta reprising "Imagine." I wasn't totally sold on this the first time he did it because, hello, it's John Lennon. But I think he does right by the song tonight, and he seems more confident on the stage. Randy says they are looking for the best singer, and that the best singer is David Archuleta. Paula says, "It's the culmination, and you left me speechless. ... You were stunning tonight." Simon says this show is about finding a star and that tonight, they have witnessed one of the best finals, and that David Archuleta came out to win, "and what we have witnessed is a knockout."
So who do you think won the night? I don't think any of the fans are going to switch allegiance, but maybe some of the more casual viewers will chime in tonight. I don't know what to predict.
The show closes with Ruben Studdard -- haven't seen him in a while! Too bad they don't bring him on until 9:02, which is when the show was supposed to be over.
(Photo by Michael Becker / Fox)