Live-Blogging The “American Idol” Finale, Part I: Someone Named David Is Going To Come Out On Top Tonight

May 20th, 2008 // 50 Comments

archiecook.jpgWell, here we go, right? Let’s just thank the world that the spoiler I saw over at MJ’s place about David Cook being given “Perfect Day” by Clive was from a parody site. (At least, I think it was.) My minute-by-minute breakdown of tonight’s festivities–in which each singer does three songs–after the jump!

8:00 p.m. We’re starting with… the Rocky theme? And Michael Buffer? Honestly, do they have to butch up David Archuleta that badly?

8:01 p.m. “Weighing in at 180 lbs…” well, that’s definitely Cook. Oh my god, they’re both in boxing robes! Where is Ryan in a Foot Locker uniform!

8:01 p.m. This did not really work as far as “instilling tension” goes. I’m just waiting for the New York Lotto Mega Millions announcer to come out and say just how much the prize recording contract is worth.

8:02 p.m. Luke Perry is in the audience! Guess he’s in Danny Noriega’s seat.

8:02 p.m. Ryan: “Once again, the eyes of America are trained on a single stage…” Bryan: “Isn’t there a primary tonight?”

8:03 p.m. Oh, they’re really referring to these two kids as “Big David” and “Little David.” Tonight there are four hours to vote! For each time zone!

8:04 p.m. Did Fox just get boxing or something? Or maybe the WWE rights? Because the amount of boxing imagery in this is already ridiculous, and it’s four minutes in.

8:04 p.m. Wow, I hope this means that Clive Davis is having David Cook sing “Eye Of The Tiger.”

8:05 p.m. Old White Males Offer Their Predictions. Yes, this is definitely an homage to boxing.

8:05 p.m. How was neither David ever in the bottom three? What about the week when there were only four contestants? Was everyone tied? What about last week? The math of Idol is already addling my head.

8:06 p.m. In the “spikes of hair” competition, Archie is beating Cook, if only because his aren’t sticking up as absurdly as his compatriot’s.

8:07 p.m. This whole segment is sponsored by Coca-Cola. And the Nokia Theater, judging by the number of times each judge has name-dropped the venue as a “special place” for competition. I thought they were here because the Kodak was booked?

8:08 p.m. Simon: “You’ve got to hate your opponent.” David A: “You know, this guy is awesome.” So of course David Cook has to talk about how nice Cookie is! Will Little David get further penalized for diverting from the script?

8:13 p.m. The boxing allegories continue. Seriously, where did this footage come from?

8:13 p.m. Clive Davis is on talking about how he looked for songs that spoke to generational angst, etc. Ahh, so he picked “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” for Cook. I shudder to think what shitty nu-grunge song Cookie picked for himself.

8:14 p.m. Cook kicks in. His voice sounds very… airy.


8:15 p.m. Oh, and now he’s jumping on the catwalk. Clive Davis is front row center, but not clapping along, perhaps because he sees Kelly Clarkson Mach II singing in front of him right now.

8:16 p.m. I don’t know if condensing this song really worked for it–too much of the build was lost. But hey, maybe Paula will judge all three songs right now and we won’t have to worry.

8:17 p.m. Randy just called tonight the “duel of 2007.” I guess Jordin Sparks is now officially erased from the books.

8:17 p.m. Paula had another one of her semi-cougary “I want you so bad” lines prewritten for her as praise for Cookie. Simon liked it too, so there. I guess the judges can’t complain about “song choice” given that they’re so dependent on Clive.

8:18 p.m. And we go right into David the Little singing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”

8:18 p.m. He’s already doing the vamping. I really hate that about this kid. He’s all about telling via runs, and not showing via interpretation.

8:19 p.m. He’s doing the squinting thing too.

8:19 p.m. The way he’s shaking the mic looks like Axl Rose’s shaky hands in the “Don’t Cry” video. The judges are going to love this. Big smile from David’s dad.

8:20 p.m. Randy starts with the “so, uh…” which is not a good sign.

8:21 p.m. Uh, so much for that. Randy says that he’s picked the right time to peak. Really? Really, Randy? After pimping–and I hate using that word–this kid all season?

8:21 p.m. Paula sunshine blah blah blah.

8:21 p.m. Simon thinks that it was the best he’s done so far. But–is there a but? Ah, yes, he gives round 1 to Archie. Yes, it’s so in the bag for David The Younger. How could we have thought any differently?

8:22 p.m. Archie is still panting. If he’s physically unable to sing songs 2 and 3, does he get DQ’d?

8:26 p.m. There are still two songs to go and the show is almost half over! Does this mean fewer tortured boxing analogies?

8:27 p.m. Ah, I spoke too soon. Oh no it’s songwriting contest time!!! OH NO

8:28 p.m. Jim Lampley is camping this up if he’s really doing this for Idol.

8:28 p.m. Oh, the songwriting contest. This song is apparently called “Dream Big.” It sounds like it was originally filler for some mid-period Survivor album. “If you don’t dream big, what’s the use of dreaming”? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

8:29 p.m. “Faith is something you can(‘t?) see.” I’m starting to wonder if all these songwriting contest picks are first vetted by some sort of Christian rock organization so their Stealth Religious Quotient can meet a certain threshold.

8:31 p.m. OKAY SOMEONE IS DEFINITELY WRITING PAULA’S LINES. If the person who is could e-mail me I would be forever indebted to you, just for personal satisfaction of conspiracy theory purposes.

8:31 p.m. Simon didn’t like the song. Well, they can’t all be “This Is My Now,” right?

8:32 p.m. Paula just said that the song David sang “wasn’t the winning song.” What? Really, Paula? Are you opening the door to conspiracy theories again?

8:35 p.m. The “Lust For Life” ad. If only Iggy and the Stooges were slated to be on tomorrow’s show. And singing with Madonna. She could make up with Mike Watt!

8:36 p.m. Tickets to the tour are actually selling? Huh.

8:36 p.m. Archie starts to sing, and we’re treated to random explosion of screams in the low, end of the background. And the crowd looks placid. Maybe they are piping in crazed teenage screeches, just like I theorized last week!

8:37 p.m. This song: Also terrible. Dear producers: Please ditch the singing competition next year. This song sounds like “Don’t Cry Out Loud” neutered by a grape-juice-and-communion-wafers hangover.

8:38 p.m. The screams come up again. I really do think that his “teen girl” appeal is being way overstated here.

8:39 p.m. Randy is breaking out the “singing the phone book” again? The crowd is really not into the judges’ raves. However, Bryan is very happy that Constantine is in the audience.

8:40 p.m. Simon gives round two to Archie. To celebrate, Archie is licking the middle of his top lip down to a nub.

8:41 p.m. Ooh, a new iTunes ad with Coldplay!

8:42 p.m. You guys, I’m starting to get bummed out. I wanted to see the big “Jeff Archuleta looks crestfallen because of the crashing of his gravy train” camera shot tomorrow night! Instead, I’m probably going to wind up seeing Young David on Celebrity Rehab on Vh1 Lost Dignity in 2011 or so.

8:44 p.m. Wait, was that Kid from Kid N’ Play in the So You Think You Can Dance commercial?

8:45 p.m. The boxing analogies are back. “The last round is always a fight.” Dear David Cook–oh no, you’re singing Collective Soul this time out?

8:45 p.m. David Archuleta is reprising “Imagine.” Guessing he won’t leave in the heaven line this time around.

8:46 p.m. David Cook’s pick is yet another piece of rock-radio filler. Like I knew this song? But I didn’t know that it was by Collective Soul (NB this could be in part because rock radio, like pretty much every other format except classic rock and classical, doesn’t back-announce anymore). The judges are going to hate this, the kids aren’t going to vote, and David Archuleta’s going to win.

8:47 p.m. I’m not even that invested in David Cook, but I feel like tonight’s show is like one of those obviously mismatched playoff games where the team you’re rooting for is the underdog, and you’re so pumped… until the opposing team puts up a five-run fourth.

8:48 p.m. He’s crying. Will this make people embrace him? Randy loves Collective Soul. “This is the kind of record that you could make and get by with,” he says. Uh, quite the ringing endorsement there.

8:49 p.m. Standing O from Paula.

8:49 p.m. “One of the nicest, most sincere contestants we’ve had,” says Simon. But he thought it was “completely and utterly the wrong song choice,” because he should have reprised one of the songs from a few weeks back.

8:50 p.m. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” asks Simon. “Well, yes and no,” David says. “Why do something I’ve already done?” Ooh, Archu-BURN-a! But he has a point. Even though in America, David Cook, you should know that artistry never wins.

8:53 p.m. I really want to go back to this “phantom crowd noise” thing, because it is more than a little fishy. I was always wondering if the little girls really liked young David more than his other David… I mean, I’m saying this as someone who preferred Guns N’ Roses to New Kids On The Block back in the day, so.


8:54 p.m. I seriously loathe this version of “Imagine” because he obviously has no idea what the song means, and it’s made patently obvious by the fact that all he can do is show off his instrument. No lyrical interpretation, just runs, runs, runs. This is so obviously what the Clive Davis Machine hath wrought, though–Whitney and Celine and Mariah, the troika of revered singers, were just the starting point for the robo-voiced, and David is the next generation, all “virtuosity” but no art.

8:56 p.m. Will Randy say that thing about the phone book? No, but he does say that he thought all season that the final would be both Davids. Which prompts a concerned look from Simon.

8:57 p.m. Blah, blah, Paula’s speechless, it was stunning. Can we just give it to the kid so we don’t have to sit through Madonna tomorrow?

8:57 p.m. Simon: “We’ve taken a bit of stick, but this show is about finding a star… and what we have witnessed is a knockout.” Yes, but David? Is not a star. He is a technical singer who’s held up like a marionette by a bunch of people, who’s unable to say anything but “cool” or “awesome” if he’s not being fed the lines by his father or Andrew Lloyd Webber. He’s even breaking down right now, you can see it. No poise, just a voice.

9:00 p.m. I do like how the producers recut “Imagine” during the ending montage to include an Archu-squeaka. Yeah, like the judges would have commented on that.

9:00 p.m. Aw, David Cook. Come over and we can do crosswords and listen to Soundgarden. I’ll even give you hints on the Saturday puzzle if I know the answers.

9:01 p.m. Whoa, it’s Ruben! Singing the “see ya” song! David Archuleta, turn to your left and watch closely.

9:02 p.m. Is Ruben even signed to a label at this point? Is this performance supposed to be an audition? Ruben’s voice is pretty great. How did J botch his marketing so badly?

9:03 p.m. The ending montage features the Michael Johns elimination and Carly’s Fateful Shirt Of Simon Love.

9:05 p.m. Well, that was anticlimactic. And we’re going to have to hear “Don’t Cry Out Loud” again tomorrow, too! Gah. At least I have the prospect of watching a food critic eat a human fingertip to cheer me up.

  1. MTS


  2. MTS

    What. Is. Paula. Doing.

  3. fabulousrobots

    @MTS: Why did they make Ruben sing? He makes Archie look worse because he appears to be actually feeling the crap he’s singing.
    They should stop teasing me with images of Carly. Wouldn’t this have been better as a Carly-Cook showdown?

  4. Maura Johnston

    @pr0FF3ss0r_j3rkwh3at: yeah. honestly, i don’t see archuleta making an album that will sell. jordin sparks at least had the out of doing a duet with chris brown that lifted her sales — but who’s going to do the same for archie and lift him out of the grandmas-and-kidz bop ghetto? rihanna?

  5. MTS

    @fabulousrobots: They made Ruben (who I love) sing because he has talent, and because he is an adult that understands the lyrics of which he sings.

    And now, to watch the season finale of Reaper (which I highly recommend as a show).

  6. Anonymous

    So long as we’ve been knocking people for (lack of) originality, can we all reflect on the fact that Blake Lewis ALSO did a cut of “Imagine” last season with only marginally more conviction than Archie?

    And Cook may be a lunkheaded rock junkie, but I think he might see the writing on the wall too. Maybe the Collective Soul pick was him going out on his own terms.


  7. CloudCarrier

    I always wondered who sang that “goodbye” theme.

  8. Maura Johnston

    @VivaLaMainstream: “Maybe the Collective Soul pick was him going out on his own terms.” oh, i definitely think that’s the case. he saw himself being teed up for the under-the-buss toss, and he decided to do a song he felt. you could tell. i have to give him props for that.

  9. CloudCarrier

    @VivaLaMainstream: Simon’s final comment was more “he’s got integrity, GET HIM OFF THE STAGE” than anything else.

  10. MTS

    1) I think I understand how Paula feels during these things, based on my comments above. I can see how this shit makes you crazy.

    2) I am SO EFFING GLAD I have a radio show to do tomorrow at the same time the finale goes down.

  11. Poubelle

    @VivaLaMainstream: Whoa, they’re going to make songs I’d actually want to listen to? And develop personalities?

  12. ArmCandy

    @VivaLaMainstream: Yes, and I believe he was reprimanded for over-singing it. Archeleta had butchered the melody of Imagine by the second line.
    @Mary: I’m beginning to think that was the point. DC’s fans thinking he’s in trouble and Simon’s compliment on his personality are creating the perfect storm for a “surprise upset.”

  13. Anonymous

    @Poubelle: I was aiming more for the drug-addicted-mess end of it…but sure…that works too.


  14. Anonymous

    Okay, I’m by no means thinking that Cook was a powerhouse tonight, but even Collective Soul sounds a little bit more current than Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me. He sounds good. He could sell records (that I wouldn’t buy and would probably mock, but still).

    The only redeeming factor of tonight and the ridiculous Archuleta slobbery from the judges is that it really appears that David Cook could give a shit. Good for him.

  15. egg cream

    8:37 p.m. This song: Also terrible. Dear producers: Please ditch the singing competition next year.


  16. Mary


    Dialidol is actually significantly pro-DC right now. As a big DC supporter, I was optimistically thinking that DA’s supposed “knockout” would mobilize people for DC and I think I might be right.

  17. Mary

    And did anyone else notice during the opening montage when they were talking specifically about Idol WINNERS, they had a shot of Daughtry?

  18. Thierry

    @MTS: I totally thought “Journey!!!” when I heard David C.’s second song. It may not be Idol coronation material, and the lyrics are awful, but that was by far the most radio-friendly song to have ever come out of the Idol songwriters.

  19. Ianny

    I think tonight proved to me that the producers tell the judges how to feel. Archuletta was not very good. He was generic, he was one note, he was all in one range. Yet the judges humped his leg and sang his praises as if Elvis walked on stage for the first time. Meanwhile, David Cook gave an emotion filled true performance, showcasing all of his sides, as a star should. And he will be a star, while Archuletta will turn 17, then 18, then 19, then 20, and all of a sudden his fans will not be there. Because they’re fans of his look, not his singing voice. Cook is the other way around, and it shows.

  20. Manola


    I know! The only two Idol winners they showed were Kelly and Carrie, plus Daughtry, who is obviously the most successful finalist in the history of the show.

    As of right now, 10:13 pm PST, Dial Idol is showing Cookie ahead with 44.97% of the vote with Archie at 32.85% (why don’t they add to 100%?). I am still dialing for Cookie, and I am getting a busy signal 70% of the time.

    I so want Cookie to win. This is corny, but I love this show, and Archie’s win would be the demise of it. Plus i agree with Maura, i want to see’ Jeff Pimpchuleta’s look of desperation tomorrow night.

  21. Thierry

    Also, is there any way that we can make sure that one of the tracks on the David A. album will feature him singing from the Hollywood phone book? Randy Jackon, make this happen!

  22. Jerkwheat

    Clearly Michael Buffer is the biggest star in the world…question answered already

  23. MTS

    Until Idolator, I never cared about American Idol. WHY GOD WHY

  24. MTS

    I know what David Cook is looking for: being interesting.

  25. fabulousrobots

    @MTS: I know! I wish he would talk more about crosswords. I liked him then.

  26. MTS

    When I hear Archuleta sing, I envision the “Wah wah wah” sound from the Peanuts cartoons.

  27. Anonymous

    Jeff Archuleta’s son goes down on him

  28. fabulousrobots

    Really, Randy? That was the best performance of the season? Did you miss Carly’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”? Jason’s “Hallelujah”? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

  29. MTS

    Um, is anyone watching this chihuahua movie commercial? Or is my sinus allergy medication backfiring on me?

  30. Maura Johnston

    @fabulousrobots: I’m pretty sure that this is why I looked past his sub-par grunge thing for the first few weeks or so.

  31. MTS

    @fabulousrobots: Well, if you were a hack like Randy, you wouldn’t know talent if you saw it either.

  32. CloudCarrier

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Rocky theme will translate into the concluding act of Bee Season, in only an hour!

  33. MTS

    Is this a Journey song that David Cook is singing? I expect him to bust into “Don’t Stop Believin’” any moment now.

  34. Jerkwheat

    That was a terribly cliche song, yet it was the catchiest potential coronation song they’ve ever had

  35. MTS

    Oh, of course Archuleta gets the ballad. BOOOOOOO.

  36. Anonymous

    Did you know that the Coronation song that David/David will sing tomorrow night

    will be from a songwriting contest that american idol said was writen by an

    “amateur”? They said…. “All of the top 20 2008 songwriting finalist are

    “AMATEURS”. So would someone please, please find one amateur in this bunch,

    ok? How many will it take till someone admits this is fraud? 1. Top 20 American Idol

    Songwriting Finalist (Andy Zulla) is an engineer on Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Diana

    DeGarmo CD’s. 2. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Windy Wagner) is a

    backup singer on the NEW Clay Aiken CD. 3. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting

    Finalist (Ryan Gillmor) wrote the theme song for the Fox television show

    “Unhitched”. 4. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Dan Yessian) wrote

    jingles for Ford Motors. 5. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Luke Ebbin) is

    a producer on Austalian Idol 1st place runner-up Shannon Noll’s CD. 6. Top 20

    American Idol Songwriting WINNER (Regie Hamm) is a co-writer on the NEW Clay

    Aiken CD and he’s also a co-writer of the WINNER of 2007′s American Idol

    Songwriting Contest Scott Krippayne……Anybody see a pattern yet? 3 of the 2008

    American Idol Songwriting Contest Top 20 songwriters get credit on Clay Aiken

    CD’s. Out of thousands and thousands of entries (At $10.00 each) 3 out of 20 work

    with Mr. Aiken. And nobody has a problem with this? For all the facts please

    visit……. []

  37. Jerkwheat

    no one can take this moment from meeeeeee

  38. Jerkwheat



  39. Maura Johnston

    @pr0FF3ss0r_j3rkwh3at: you have to remember that the judges know nothing about popular music.

  40. CloudCarrier

    @SimonSays76: Well, I saw exactly one copy of that new Clay Aiken disc on a physical shelf last Tuesday, so who’s the winner exactly? The environment?

  41. Jerkwheat

    @Maura Johnston: the fix has been in sooooo badly tonight…

  42. MTS

    What has been going on? I have been totally engrossed with my salad.

  43. Maura Johnston

    @pr0FF3ss0r_j3rkwh3at: oh, it’s been in all season. we were just fooled.

  44. fabulousrobots

    Wow, all of these performances have been completely boring. I don’t have any emotional attachment to the Davids at all. I might even hate them. I want to vote against one of them, but I can’t decide who I hate the least. I just don’t know anymore…

  45. MTS


  46. MTS


  47. Anonymous

    @Maura Johnston: 10 years from this day, David Archuleta and Miley Cyrus will be the new Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse. Heard it here first.


  48. Jerkwheat

    @Maura Johnston: the judges are ridiculous tonight. I feel bad for Cook. He at least has the consolation prize of knowing his genre is more radio and sales ready – he’ll be high-fiving Daughtry at the Generic Radio Rock Made Me Wealthy Awards in no time

  49. MTS


  50. I told my group about your site.

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