American Idol: Knockout punch

Well folks, we’re down to the wire. And because every single media outlet has latched on to the “David vs. David” concept, “American Idol” decided to run with it by giving the final showdown a boxing theme, complete with outfits, gloves, black & white clips of buff guys punching bags and a boxing analyst that looks like Donnie Darko’s dad.

Erin: Well folks, we’re down to the wire. And because every single media outlet has latched on to the “David vs. David” concept, “American Idol” decided to run with it by giving the final showdown a boxing theme, complete with outfits, gloves, black & white clips of buff guys punching bags and a boxing analyst that looks like Donnie Darko’s dad. They even give the boys a boxing intro, which personally, if anyone was to announce my weight in front of millions of people along with a dorky nickname, that would be enough for me to forfeit the competition.

Kathy: Pardon the pun, but they really beat this idea into the ground. Although, I gotta say, if I was throwing a big party, I’d want Michael “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” Buffer there. And having HBO boxing analyst Jim Lampley there was kind of inspired. But, producers, couldn’t you have persuaded Sylvester Stallone to show up? Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya? Not even George Foreman? George would show up for the opening of an envelope. No Seacrest as ring girl?

No backstories about the fighers’ struggles? I mean, they’ve never mentioned it on air, but anyone with access to the Internet is fully aware by now of Cook’s brother’s battle with cancer and Little David’s battle with his father’s controlling ways.

There are so many other directions they could have gone with this. Alas.

Erin: Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber are on hand to help the “fighters” in the respective “corners,” thus I can’t shake the mental image of Davis in a little skull cap forcing David A. to catch chickens. Yes, I’m easily amused.

Kathy: Did anyone else notice that after Seacrest announced that the Davids are “fighting for a title reserved for superstars” that they flashed photos of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry? Have the producers even forgotten that he didn’t win? He finished fourth, people! Just like Jason Castro. And that little fact just serves to prove that the finales have become an exercise in futility because it doesn’t really matter who wins.

Lampley points out that neither of the Davids ever landed in the bottom three. Being the “Idol” geek that I am, I know that this is a distinction shared by previous winners Kelly, Carrie and Taylor. However Ruben and Fantasia both spent time in the bottom three. I can’t remember whether Jordin did or not. Erin? Also, for the first time ever, we have a finalist (Cook) whose initial audition never aired. Is it possible the producers didn’t see the potential in him way back in January? Odd.

After this extended preamble we finally get to the competition:

ROUND I — Clive Davis’ choice

David “Sugarfoot” Cook
Song: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2)
Erin: I am truly impressed with Clive on this one. I wish all mature gentlemen would pick U2 songs for a younger generation to sing. The world would be a better place.
Cook gets all sultry, thus closing in on his cougar fanbase. His version is fab and sexy and makes me want to vote for him again and again. And although he has strong vocals, I have to admit that it’s not much of a stretch to have rockers sing Bono. I mean, almost every featured player on “SNL” can do a decent Bono impression, so how hard can it be? But I’m still a fan so I’m happy with his performance.
On a side note, I once had an ex that kind of looked like the post-combover Cook, and now I want to call him and make him carry a guitar.
Kathy: DC did a great job and it was a fine way to open the show but he looked incredibly nervous last night and it got me wondering: Does he really, secretly, not want the title? Don’t get me wrong, I know he wants a career in music — and he’ll have one. But not winning may have been the best thing to ever happen to Daughtry and the same could be true for Cook. Not being indoctrinated into the 19 Entertaiment machine gives you a lot more control.

David “Babyface” Archuleta
Song: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” (Elton John)
Erin: “Idol” producers pan the audience to point out that David’s dad isn’t lurking in the shadows giving terrible, terrible advice to his meal ticket. Davis’ song choice gives Arch a great chance to shine. And shine he does. Little David just blows it out of the water. I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of his. I agree with Kathy that for the better part of the season his talent has basically been making all songs sound the same. Like the Ramones. But hell, I love the Ramones and their one song, so I’m down with that concept. But David just pulled out all the stops on this and kind of makes Cook look like a chump. David shows off his vocal range, which reminds folks at home that this is a competition. Finally, this show is making sense.
Kathy: Throughout my seven-year relationship with this show I’ve witnessed a lot of contestants mangle Elton John songs. Finally, someone does him justice. As hard as it is for me to admit, Little David was absolutely great. Although I’m still with Andrew Lloyd Webber — the closed eyes drive me bananas.

Round I to Archuleta. Cook’s on the ropes

The scene backstage: Clive Davis forces Cook to climb the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.

ROUND II – Contestants choose from among the top 10 songwriting competition entries

Erin: Andrew Lloyd gives his thoughts on the finalists and the songs they had to choose from and does a great job of hiding his disdain.

Kathy: He pulls no punches, and that is why I love ALW

Song: “Dream Big” (with guitar) by Emily Shackleton
OK, I think everyone can agree that the song is pretty trite. It sounds like it should be used during a montage of unpopular kids cleaning up a demolished house to make it their new home, or during the big dance number before Sarah Jessica Parker performs the lift with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. But given the material, David does a decent job. Which is good, but allows an opening for Archuleta to beat him into a bloody pulp.
Kathy: The original, victory ballad is always the worst song of the season and this year we get two of them. Oh boy! David does as well as one can do with a shallow, simple song. But I’m afraid it’s not good enough. I’m not happy.

Song: “In This Moment” by Ryan Gilmore
Erin: A perfect anthem for Des Moines prom-goers to get that last chance for a perfect night before they realize their dates are tools. And just as I thought, David A. demolishes Cook with it. He basically turns the song into a tangible prop and than whacks the Cookster on the head with it.
Simon calls it a “fantastically self-centered song,” which is apparently a good thing.
Kathy: I’m afraid that the lyric “No one can take it from me” had become the theme of the evening. Well, that and the Sweet Science (or boxing, for you non-sports fans).

Round II to Babyface. Cook survives a standing 8-count

Backstage: David Cook tells Davis to “cut me”

ROUND III – Singers’ choice

Song: “The World I Know” (Collective Soul) with guitar
Erin: His rendition of the Collective Soul song is on key, but I just don’t think it’s enough to give him the win. The song is a good choice and it’s a fab perf, but just not enough to battle lovesick tweens with cell phone dependencies. My heart is breaking over here. Sad Erin.
Wait! Is he crying? Yes! The tears have started. Oh, now I want to vote for him again and again. I’m sure that’s what a lot of thirtysomething chicks are thinking at this point. Just to be clear, back the hell off, man. I called dibs.
Kathy: Not the best song choice, I’m afraid. It’s a fine song, but it’s not a familiar song. But I applaud his choice to try something new ra
ther than revisiting his past glory by repeating “Hello” or “Billie Jean” as Simon suggested he should have. You stick to your guns DC. It will serve you well in the future. Plus, the tears will win you a few thousand extra votes. It was the emotional equivalent of shouting “Adrian!”

Song: “Imagine” (John Lennon)
Erin: Really? Again? iTunes is losing money on this performance. At this point, I’m pretty sure that Steven Jobs is cussing out the teen under his breath wondering who is going to buy the clip twice.
As for the perf… yeah, David A. is a emotional master manipulator. Face it. You are not going to get around an adorable kid singer beautiful anthems written by iconic dead rock stars. It’s like facing the perfect storm.
Kathy: I’d call this choice a sucker punch. Repeating his best performance of the season really is the equivalent of hitting below the belt. But it worked. It put David Cook on the canvas for good. Pugilistic genius, Little David.

Backstage: Clubber Lang pushes Davis to the ground, thus inspiring David A. to seek revenge…vocally.

Erin: So, unless half of the Archuleta Army misdials during the call-in frenzy, looks like Little David has it in the bag. But it’s Cook’s album I’m going to be buying.

Kathy: Archuleta may be saying to the bloodied but still-standing Cook: “There ain’t going to be no rematch,” but, as Apollo Creed is my witness, there will be, my friend. In about 5 months when both their albums come out we’ll see who the real winner is.

American Idol: Knockout punch

Fox; Wed., 8 PM