American Idol 7: Top 2 Performances, Live Thoughts
Here we are.  David Archuleta vs. David Cook in the final American Idol performance episode of the season.  The American Idol audience saw this coming weeks away and now that it has actually come to fruition, it feels right.  I don't believe that the two Davids were the two best contestants this season, but they are undoubtedly the two who connected with viewers the most.  Just looking around BuddyTV for the past few months, the passion of the fans for each David has dwarfed the competition.  Not only that, the rivalry between the two factions is very real.  There are a lot of Archuleta haters out there, and there are a lot of people who don't think Cook is as good as his fans think he is.  Tonight, the two will face off and America will vote for their American Idol.  Each David will sing three songs tonight - one chosen by the fans, one chosen by record producer Clive Davis and one chosen by the singer themselves (Archuleta's choice: "Imagine").  I'll be here throughout tonight's performance show, giving live updates as the episode moves along.

The episode begins with the theme to Rocky.  Bruce Buffer announces - "Let's get ready to rumble."   This is awkward.  He introduces David Cook, wearing a boxing robe and gloves.  He then introduces Archuleta, and calls him about 100 pounds, soaking wet.

Silliest opening ever?  I kinda liked it.

Luke Perry in the hizzouse. 

We're on the big stage tonight.  Someone bedazzled the hell out of Paula's dress.  Boxing guru Jim Lampley introduces a video comparing and contrasting the Davids. 

Archuleta won the coin toss (uh, didn't know they had one) and has decided to go second. 

Giving the Davids advice, Randy Jackson spouts as many cliches as he can fit into thirty seconds.  Simon says that you have to hate your opponent.  Ha.  Cook will give the first performance after the commercial.

Music pioneer Clive Davis chooses the first round of songs.  For David Cook, he chose "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," by U2.   For Archie, he chose "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," by Elton John.  Good Choices.

Cook is up first.  It's a dreamy arrangement, at least at the beginning.  I'm really liking this.  Of course, this is a great great song.  The second half of thee song picks up the pace.  Cook sounds like he's on tonight.  This is a performance that will only help him.  Well done.  Not a crazy arrangement, but different enough that he made it his own.  Randy thought it was a great way to start the show and says the battle of 2007 has begun.  No one bothers to correct him.  Paula loves it.  Weird.  Simon thought Cook looked tense at the top of the show, but that the performance was phenomenal. 

Now it's Archuleta time.  This is actually a perfect song for David.  He still does those unnecessary runs that I hate.  He has a couple out of tune moment, but nothing egregious.  He does some nice quasi-falsetto stuff near the end. Pretty solid performance, but nothing special.  Randy goes insane, calling it one of the greatest performances of the season.  He calls it flawless.  Good god.  It wasn't THAT good.  Simon thought it was arguably the best he's done so far this season.

Time for round 2.  These are fans' choices.  Kind of.  They voted in the top ten songwriters' contest songs.   From there, the Davids chose the one they liked the best.  This boxing theme is getting old.

David Cook is singing a song called "Dream Big."  He plays guitar.  Like most of the songwriting contest songs, this one is mediocre.  It's an upbeat pop rock song.  The kind you'd find in the soundtrack of a teen comedy.  This song does shows off Cook's voice, and he does a solid job.  Randy thought the song was just OK, but that Cook "sang his face off."  Paula loved it.  Simon thought it was a lightweight.

What do you want to bet that Archuleta sings a slow ballad?

Archuleta is singing a song called "In This Moment."  And, yeah, it's a slow, cheesy ballad.  Again, it's a crappy song.  Nothing special, again, about this performance.  If the judges heap praise on Archie here, I will be irate.  Solid performance.  Not bad, not great.  Randy dusts off the freakin' phone book line again!  Really?  He loved it.  Paula loved it.  Simon thinks Archie picked the better song.  Simon calls round 2 for Archie.  Whatever.

If anyone had any doubt who Idol wants to win this competition, they've given us the answer tonight.

Round 3 - David Cook is going to sing "The World I Know" by Collective Soul.  Kind of a risk here, not going back to one of his better performances from earlier in the season.  Archie is singing "Imagine."

Cook sings his song - I don't know the original.  At the start, it's just him and an acoustic guitar.  It's a slow-ish tune.  It's kind of laid-back, a little boring, but I assume it will build to the end.  Well, maybe not.  It doesn't build that much, but it's a really nice song. A fine performance, but I think he would've been better suited to play one of his earlier songs.  Cook sheds some tears as the song ends - might have something to do with his brother be in the audience.  Randy really likes it.  Paula rambles, gives him a standing ovation.  Simon says that Cook is one of the nicest, most sincere contestants they've ever had.  But, then he says that it was the wrong song choice for the competition.  Cook responds by saying that he views the season as a progression, and he didn't see why he should do something he's already done.  Is that a little dig at Archie?  I hope so.

Final performance of the night.  It's fitting that it's Archie singing "Imagine" the song that began the Archuleta craze.  He adds even more unnecessary runs to the song.  God, he's singing a run on every line.  It's kind excruciating.  True test: what do you think John Lennon would have thought about this performance?  What would he have thought about his most famous song, an anarchist, anti-government, anti-religion song performed by someone who doesn't know the meaning of the lyrics on a show that is shamelessly commercial?  I'm guessing he wouldn't approve.  Randy Jackson goes over the top, praising Archie to no end.  He calls him the best singer of the competition.  Simon says that we've witnessed a knockout. 

So, that's it.  I'll be back later with the performance rankings.

Also Read
John vs. Oscar: Finale Predictions
Finale Performance Rankings
Why David Archuleta Will Win
Why David Cook Will Win
May the Best Man Lose
Best Performances of Season 7
Worst Performances of Season 7

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)