Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol ~ David vs. David

I've made my peace with it. David Archuleta will be the next American Idol. It is for the best.

If you look at Season 7 as a whole, who was more creative, had the most memorable performances, took the most chances, was the most vocally versatile, improved his hairstyle enormously? David Cook. In seasonal terms, he is the winner. He is still my winner.

But last night David Archuleta won the battle, and on American Idol, winning the battle means winning the war. Or should I be putting this all in boxing terms given the stupendously strange Boxing Introduction? See, David A. won it right there. He--all "100 pounds soaking wet" of him (some young fans are gonna be memorizing that line for later use)--looked happy to be prancing around in his miniature silk boxing robe, whereas David C. looked like he thought it was as silly as it was. Therein lies the difference. Beneath David A's I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-wow-you-like-me-really? facade is 100% pure competitive muscle, don't be mistaken. When the "desire to win" was brought up, David C. said, for him, the competition was over. Yup.

Nokia. Nokia. Nokia. It seemed mandatory that everyone use this word (cause they were in the Nokia Theater) as much as possible last night, so I'll get it out of the way. Nokia. Nokia. Nokia.

Clive Davis was in the Nokia House, looking not a day over 90. As was Andrew Lloyd Weber, who may be considering tossing off musical theater composition in favor of full-time mentoring and eyebrow choreography.

The boys started off with songs selected by that young buck, Clive, who perhaps showed his leanings by choosing the absolute most perfect song for David A. to sing, Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me." Of course, George Michael is no stranger to this song, either, and didn't I compare David A. to GM during Neil Diamond week? (Clive, my homeboy, you listened to me!) It was a perfect song because it allowed David A. to use his ballad diva skills but with more energy and less sugar than some of his performances. For those who "don't get" David A., this song should have been an, "Ok, I get it now" moment. Watch it, GM, David A's on your ass, and not in the public toilet sense.

Clive gave David C. U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," also a good choice, maybe too good. Bono once told Rolling Stone that the song is "'an anthem of doubt more than faith.'" Maybe that's why Clive picked it? Doubt set the tone for David C's night. The powers-that-be probably had some doubts, too. That David, he's a risk-taker, uh-oh. We like that sort of thing early in the season, but in the finale, not so much.

For the "2nd Round," each David got to pick a song from among the Top 10 in the AI-sponsored Songwriting Competition. (Why must they have this competition? Does anyone ever like these "winning" songs?) David C. went with a rocker. David A. went with a ballad, a sappy ballad, a "fantastically self-centered" ballad, Simon proclaimed, making it a perfect choice for proms and David A., or a future combination of the two. David C. sang his choice with the respect it deserved (not too much), while David A. sold the schmaltz with all the genuine faux sincerity he could muster (or he could've actually liked the song, it's all too possible), which is a lot, enabling Randy to use the phrases "in the zone" and "sing the phone book" one last time.

Lastly, the boys each got to pick their favorite song to sing. Surprise, surprise, David A. chose to do a tried-and-true "Imagine" encore, knowing that strength is found in the familiar and that this song was his strongest of the season. A completely unimaginative choice that smartly reminded all of us with weak memory spans of David A's finest moment. David C. could have pulled the same logical trick, taking "Hello" or "Billie Jean" for a nostalgic go-round, but no. "Why do something I've already done?" he said. (Because you'd have a much better chance of winning? There's one good reason!) He sang Collective Soul's "The World I Know," a song he'd never performed before. He sang it tenderly, without vocal fanfare or pyrotechnics. It was subtle. It showed artistry. He was teary after the performance. I love the guy. It was the nail in his AI coffin. Paula gave a standing-O (the kind you give candidates who need to concede), which David C. deserved, but Simon was right when he said it was absolutely the wrong song for the finale.

But was it? I've made peace with David A. winning over David C. because I think, ultimately, it will be best this way for both of them. David A. will have a new stage parent, the American Idol corporation and all that suggests. (Given the rumors over the season, it seems David A. could use a new stage parent pronto, one that might transition him towards being a person of his own. I hope, as soon as David turns 18, Dad is sent far far away till the album's done.) David C., on the other hand, by losing, will, presumably, have freer rein over his music, which can only benefit him since his energy is more creative than competitive. Plus, isn't it cooler to lose American Idol than it is to win it? (I mean, look at Clay Aiken.?! Oops, never mind, bad example.) David A. needed to win this because winning it was his goal, his dream, his raison d'être since he popped from the womb. David C. needs to hold on to his integrity, and it will be easier for him to do that as a loser.

So, it all worked out perfectly, right? Everyone's happy? We'll see tonight.

My final favorite performances of Season 7, one from David A., one from David C. Just to be fair. Now if only the Democratic primary could conclude so peacefully.

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