It’s May, so what’s more exciting than the NBA playoffs and less disappointing than The Office season finale? American Idol! Tonight the final two contestants will sing their little hearts out to the pleasure or dissatisfaction of a judgmental America. Wednesday night we’ll find out who received the most votes, the coveted record deal and, most importantly, the American Idol title.
It’s May, so what’s more exciting than the NBA playoffs and less disappointing than The Office season finale? American Idol!
Tonight the final two contestants will sing their little hearts out to the pleasure or dissatisfaction of a judgmental America. Wednesday night we’ll find out who received the most votes, the coveted record deal and, most importantly, the American Idol title.
It’s come down to a duel between the Davids??that is, 17-year-old David Archuleta and 25-year-old David Cook. The two couldn’t be greater opposites, unless one had breasts. Archuleta is sensitive and usually pitch perfect, and Cook can sing, but mostly likes to rock.
Archuleta has been a crowd and judge favorite since the beginning. The overly humble teen from Murray, Utah, is as awkward as he is talented. He seems to be a child prodigy who hit puberty right before auditions. His deep voice sounds new and his posture implies a different body than he may have been used to before. This screams “endearing” to many people. His youthfulness is sweet, but you wouldn’t know by his song choice that he was born anytime after 1960.
His performance on last Tuesday’s show embodies the single greatest thing wrong with his appeal. With Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer,” Archuleta showed that his soul is not 17, but 50. He is 50-years-old at heart. Is that how old the next American Idol should be? I guess America gets to decide.
David Cook, from Kansas City, Mo., appeals to a much hipper audience. Even with his deliberately messy hair and somewhat hipster attire (annoying, right?), he still emits a certain amount of cool. With the exception of his version of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” a few weeks ago (don’t mess with The Who), he’s done some really interesting things to change up the arrangements of songs to make them “his own,” as the judges are always saying. He has consistently shown he is a contemporary artist.
Regular comparisons between Cook and former American Idol contestant turned wildly successful frontman Chris Daughtry all seem appropriate and are telling of what trajectory Cook’s career could take. (Archuleta is more reminiscent of the apparently still popular, but easy-listening Clay Aiken.)
It comes down to the cute kid with a big, sappy voice and the hipster with a more edgy musical vision.
This seventh season has been an interesting one. Judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell were all present, but their shticks were a little different. Paula seemed a little less drunk, Simon was himself save for a few extra compliments and Randy took on a more critical and grumpy role, sometimes for no apparent reason.
As a new rule, contestants were allowed to accompany themselves on an instrument. This was an interesting choice for the show. It allowed contestants to present themselves as more than just a singer, but also as a performer. However, as the judges were constantly reminding us, American Idol is supposed to be a vocal competition and not a talent or popularity contest.
Of course, the show is out of the judges’ and producers’ control when the public is left to make up their own minds. People don’t vote for the best singer (which is not objective anyway), they vote for whomever they like best.
Jason Castro, the likable 21-year-old with dreadlocks and the fourth to last contestant left on the show this year, is the perfect example of a personality triumphing the singing talent in the competition. He was a good singer, but didn’t have pipes like Irish-Californian Carly Smithson, who was voted off two weeks before him, or Michael Johns, the Australian-born rocker who went home even earlier. Castro generally chose songs to suit his limited range and could rarely be found on stage without his trusty guitar??something that no doubt won him votes as a performer.
Brook White, 24, sweet and charming, helped herself through the competition as well with a piano and guitar. Her delicate voice didn’t quite match up with some of the contestants who left before her??such as Oregon’s own Kristy Lee Cook??but she was just so adorable, and often cried on the results shows at the first signs of disappointment.
Clearly, there are all sorts of ways to win American Idol, as there are all sorts of reasons to vote for someone. Past years have show that the best singer doesn’t always win, and likewise the winner isn’t always a commercial success.
Both Davids will do fine, and will probably be successful after the show is over. Archuleta likely appeals greatest to the demographic that not only watches the show, but also picks up the phone and votes.
If I were a viewer that voted, I would dial the numbers for Cook. However, if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Archuleta to win the whole thing.