American Idol 7: Top 2 Performance Rankings
The long, hard, bizarre journey is almost over.  An American Idol season is near impossible to judge while your in the midst of it.  It's much easier to look back after some time away.  The legacy of American idol 7 will inextricably be linked to the two Davids, and I suspect that years from now pundits will look back and wonder how the hell the schmaltzy teenager vanquished the polished rocker.  I wouldn't jump to conclusions (David Archuleta will win tomorrow) if the entire American Idol production hadn't.  But they did.  It was an almost uncomfortable experience watching all the non-singing moments of the final American Idol performance show tonight.  I can't pretend to know whether the judges are simply shilling for the Idol overlords, whether they've worked themselves into such an Archuleta lather that they truly believe what they're saying, or if they're just poor judges of talent.  Whichever is the case, it led to massive frustration from this viewer, and I presume a lot of you felt the same way.

Nothing against David Archuleta.  Seriously.  He did exactly what he needed to do.  I'm not going to get upset with anyone who thought that David Archuleta was better than David Cook tonight, or throughout the season.  That is a valid conversation that can be had among American Idol fans.  However, the discrepancy between the quality of Archuleta's performances tonight and the reactions they invoked from the judges was so vast that it became difficult to watch.  Archuleta didn't give a bad performance tonight. He didn't give a spectacular performance either.  In fact, he did nothing tonight that he didn't do all season.  The judges treated him, however, like a shining, teenage singing gift from the heavens, sent to Los Angeles from the fertile soil of Utah to bestow upon America the gift of holy vocal runs, splendiferous balladeering, and life-altering performances. 

Simon Cowell gave Archie the victory on the night, saying he won it with a “knockout.”  Randy Jackson creepily fawned over Little David all night, leading me to wonder aloud (really) during the show: “Did someone slip some ecstasy into his Coca-Cola cup?”  Archuleta wasn't bad.  He was good.  He wasn't transcendently great, he didn't make you believe he could become a star down the road, and he didn't dispel any of the constant criticisms that have been tossed his way all year.  The judges, I guess, saw it differently.  They were wrong. 

The final performance episode of the season was saddled with a silly “boxing” theme that was the through line for the entire hour.  Each singer performed three songs: One chosen by famed record producer Clive Davis, one chosen from the top ten (as voted by the fans) songs from the songwriting contest, and one chosen by the Davids. 

Top 2 Rankings

1. David Cook - “Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,” “Dream Big,” and “The World I Know”

I've listened to these performances again, and they kind of blow Archuleta out of the water.  The first song, a U2 cover, was expertly performed.  The arrangement was a nice balance between making it new and staying true to the original.  It's also an exceedingly difficult song to sing, but Cook pulled it off very well.  The second song was mediocre, but Cook performed it as best he could.  I sincerely wish they would get rid of the songwriting contest on American Idol.  The first time through (as can be seen on my live thoughts) I wasn't all that high on his third song.  I'm not very familiar with Collective Soul, so I didn't know the song.  Mostly, I was just a little baffled that Cook didn't go with “Hello” or “Billie Jean.”  On second listen, I love what Cook did.  He didn't shamelessly go for a show stopper.  He played a song dear to his heart, something touching, and he sang the hell out of it.  Cook didn't do what the judges and the audience expected and instead did what he wanted to do, and that's an admirable thing. 

2. David Archuleta - “Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “In This Moment,” and “Imagine”

Archuleta was fine.  He did his thing on all three songs.  They were the type of slow ballads he's sung all year.  The first tune was solid, nothing spectacular.  The second song was a mediocre ballad sung by a expert balladeer.  Then we come to “Imagine.”  I didn't think it was as good as the first time he sang it, and I doubt I'm alone in this.  He added a run on every line imaginable, to the point where it sounded very little like the original.  Still, he sang it well, though the judges' reactions were over the top.

Also Read
John vs. Oscar: Finale Predictions
Finale Performance Live Thoughts
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)