Oh what a night! Victory was sweet and grand and a bit teary (for us as well). David Cook took the title with a 12 million vote margin. We now feel all the time spent hitting the redial button at least 150 times was time well spent. When we heard that Ryan Seacrest had announced Wednesday morning on his KIIS-FM radio show that 97.5 million votes had been cast and that one contestant had received 56 percent and the other 44 percent, we knew that Cook was golden. We had done the math ourselves after seeing the DialIdol.com results and those were exactly the numbers we came up with after seeing the vote spread. Which not only means DialIdol.com was right -- they were also damn accurate. We knew that unless The Evil Puppeteer (Nigel Lythgoe) and crew were going to commit a huge lie, that David Cook was the winner for sure. WooooooooooooDamnHoooooooooooooo!!!
Right before the Big Announcement, Ryan went back to judges one last time for their final thoughts.
Randy Jackson said, "Great, great Season 7, man. You dudes brought it down to the wire. I'm so happy that it's the two of you standing there. This has been one of the strongest years ever and welcome to The Duel. You're both winners, baby. Both."
Paula Abdul started with her regular blather: "I'm honored and proud to be sitting here. You two are truly amazing. It's odd that it's called the finale when it's anything but a final. It's the beginning of the start of the destinies of your careers. I'm so proud." But ended with a rather touching statement that sounded as if it came straight from "The Wizard of Oz": "And just remember, sometimes we think it's all about winning, but it's the things sometimes that we lose that remind us how truly special we are as people. Keep it up."
But the cherry on top of the whipped cream was watching Simon Cowell backpedal so fast that he almost rocketed out of the theater after Seacrest told him that at times during the season he had been harsh on "these Davids" and asked what Cowell thought after he had rewatched Tuesday's performance show (this whole thing felt very staged). Cowell said: "I want to congratulate both of you last night because, um, I thought on the night that it was a terrific show. I went back home to watch it. (begin backpedal ...) It wasn't quite so clear cut as we called it (Paula to Simon: Ye-ah"). And in fact, um, David, um, I will take this opportunity to apologize, because I think I was verging on disrespectful with you. And I don't think you deserved that because over the season, both of you, what I liked about both of you was that you're "triers" (did he get that term out of the George Bush playbook?). And you've both given it your best. You're very nice people. And for the first time ever, I don't really care who wins. I think you've both been terrific." (Woo, great, complete backpedal. That covered all of his bases, teehee).
Watch video of David Cook being crowned the new American Idol and singing "Time of My Life":
The show opened with Top 12 and the "So You Think You Can Dance" dancers performing to "Get Ready." After their joint performance on "Idol Gives Back," we were looking forward to this reunion, but it lacked the pizzazz that their IGB Rihanna number had.
Watch video of show opening and the Top 12 singing "Get Ready":
Next, Cook and Archuleta dueted on the Nickelback song "Hero" from the film "Spiderman." Meh. The harmony was not terrific and the song was much more suited to Cook (who is rumored to have suggested it to the producers) than it was to Archuleta.
Watch video of David Cook and David Archuleta singing "Hero":
And what would an Idol finale be without a cross-promotion to another Fox property? Er, perhaps better? Tonight, we have to sit through the insufferable promo for Mike Myers forthcoming film, "The Love Guru." This involves footage of The Davids seeing an advance of the film and then doing a filmed skit with Myers in his Guru Pitkha persona. Afterward, still in costume, Myers tortures us with a bit more of his Guru schtick before mercifully departing the stage.
Watch video of David Cook and David Archuleta with Guru Pitkha (Mike Myers):
The worst number of the night award went to Syesha Mercado and Seal duetting "Waiting for You." Two singers take a lousy song then make it off pitch and out of sync with each other, what a treat! Not. It was hard to sit through and actually painful to listen to. This certainly didn't enhance Mercado's career any.
Watch video of Syesha Mercado and Seal singing "Waiting for You":
Next, Jason Castro reminds us why you should rest on your laurels and not re-sing something you've previously sung to near-perfection. He encores his true "moment" from the season, "Hallelujah," and, well, it's nowhere as good as it was the first time around. The final high note breaks painfully.
Watch video of Jason Castro singing "Hallelujah":
The Ford commercial, set to "Let the Good Times Roll," was actually a compilation reel of all the Ford ads from Season 7. Back to the show and, as expected, Ryan, with The Davids onstage, has two sets of car keys to new ... Mustangs? Nope. New Ford Escape Hybrids. Hmmmm. We know this was supposed to be the "green" version of the finale, and we're all for saving the planet, but two guys -- one 17, the other 25? Wethinks they'd rather be racing around in Mustangs. Besides, they (unlike us) will never have to worry about the price of gas again.
Watch video of Ford commercial "Let the Good Times Roll":
A very bizarre segment with the six female finalists singing a Donna Summer medley, after which Summer joins them onstage to sing her new single, "Stamp Your Feet." Summer has to be escorted down the stairs, with two guys each holding one of her hands as they descend. Her wig isn't the best and she's gotten heavier with age, but when she breaks into "Last Dance" she proves the pipes are still powerful. Great upbeat ending, with Syesha getting a little more face time with Summer and loving it. Meanwhile, what was up with Amanda Overmyer? She looked pissed and uncomfortable and sounded pretty crappy. Yep, good thing she won't be on the tour.
Watch video of 6 female contestants and Donna Summer singing Donna Summer medley:
This was followed by one of the better numbers of the night, a rousing, well-done rendition of Joe Cocker's "The Letter" sung by Carly Smithson and Michael Johns. They were great dueting together and reminded us, as Ryan pointed out, that they had left the competition way too soon.
Watch video of Carly Smithson and Michael Johns singing "The Letter":
Time for another "humor" break. He was such a smash trashing Simon at IGB, that the producers had Jimmy Kimmel return. His best joke? "Hey maybe you guys can help me with this. I valet parked outside. How much do I tip Sanjaya?" Cut to Sanjaya Malakar in the audience LHAO. Most of the rest of his jokes fell kind of flat. Maybe he should stick with interviewing the eliminated "Dancing with the Stars" contestants.
Watch video of Jimmy Kimmel ridiculing Sanjaya, Ryan Seacrest et al:
The Top 6 male contestants perform a Bryan Adams medley, after which the now gristly and gnarly looking Adams joins them onstage. Man, we knew he needed a heavy-duty dermabrasion, but we never noticed that gap between his front teeth before. It was as bad as Alfred E. Neuman's. But we love Bryan, anyway.
Watch video of 6 male contestants and Bryan Adams singing Bryan Adams medley:
As we come back from commercial, Jordin Sparks does a filmed pitch for the new "American Idol" attraction that's opening later this year at Disney World. The public can live the "Idol" experience there by singing and competing, with each day's winner earning a spot at the head of the line for one of next season's audition cities.
David Cook takes the stage with ZZ Top, who haven't changed in appearance in 40 years and still look like distant relative of Cousin Itt, for a satisfying rendition of "Sharp Dressed Man." After the performance, Ryan goes to the remote of Mikalah Gordon in Kansas City to see the hometown reaction of Cook's fans.
Watch video of David Cook and ZZ Top singing "Sharp Dressed Man":
This is followed by a rather sweet duet by Graham Nash and Brooke White singing "Teach Your Children Well." White was in her element, singing the kind of music she loves. It was a warm and fuzzy moment.
Watch video of Graham Nash and Brooke White singing "Teach Your Children Well":
Another commercial break, and wait! Is that David Archuleta doing a commercial for "Guitar Hero" mimicing Tom Cruise in "Risky Business"? Man, Daddy Archuleta wasted no time getting his baby boy some outside revenue. Is that even allowed by "Idol" rules? Yikes!
Back from commercial and the Jonas Brothers take the stage. The mosh pit goes crazy.
Watch video of the Jonas Brothers performing:
Another filler segment that had potential then fell flat. Ryan takes us back to some of the memorably bad auditions from Season 7. We laugh at some of the really horrific ones and then come to Renaldo "I Am Your Brother" Lapuz, who -- no surprise -- is here to relive the memory with us. But the producers go off the deep end. It was funny when the whole thing happened spontaneously at the auditions. Now they have Lapuz accompanied by the USC marching band and cheerleaders, storming down the theater's aisles to join him onstage. It all goes bad. They're totally out of sync with each other. When Paula and Randy opt to join them (Simon smartly remained in his seat), it only gets worse. They can't shut Renaldo up and have to go to a commercial to clear the stage.
Watch video of bad auditions and Renaldo Lapuz singing with the USC Band and cheerleaders:
It's time to spotlight David Archuleta. He sings "Apologize" with OneRepublic, and it's sounding real good until David has to go to the really high note and it's out of his register. He uses a lower key next time around, and overall it was a pleasing duet. Archuleta joins Ryan for a look at what's happening in Utah. Matt Rogers is there with both his paternal and maternal grandfathers. Jeff Archuleta looks like he's getting a kick out of his father being interviewed. David's maternal grandfather speaks Spanish and Matt needs a (pretty, young) translator.
Watch video of David Archuleta and OneRepublic singing "Apologize":
Jordin Sparks, proving she's over her recent health crisis, performs a very peppy version of "One Step at a Time." We're glad to see that she has refused to be pressured by Hollywood to turn into a stick, and has seemingly maintained the same weight she had when she last graced the "Idol" stage. However, we hated the gold lamé dress (all wrong for her) and weren't that crazy about the song, either.
Watch video of Jordin Sparks singing "One Step at a Time":
A bit more comedy. Instead of a "dead Elvis" routine, they used the same technology to merge an early Gladys Knight in a spoof audition session with the Pips, played by Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. It was fun, but not hilarious.
Watch video of Gladys Knight singing "Midnight Train to Georgia" with Pips Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.:
Powerhouse Carrie Underwood takes the stage in the shortest dress of the evening to perform her new single, "Last Name." It's the same type of crossover country-pop as "Before He Cheats," but not quite as good. Still, we expect it'll chart satisfactorily.
Watch video of Carrie Underwood singing "Last Name":
For the final number, the top 12 perform a George Michael medley. First the girls do "Faith," then the guys do "Father Figure," with David Hernandez going almost sotto voce and breaking into a huge grin when he hit the word "naked" in the lyric "For just one moment, to be bold and naked at your side." Who did he throw that smile at? The entire group sang "Freedom," then introduced George Michael, who both looked and sounded creepy. The latter, we find out, can be attributed to a cold. The former? Perhaps to those oversized bug-like sunglasses that make him look like an aging diva. And to think we once had a crush on him. He sang "Praying for Time".
Watch video of Top 12 singing George Michael medley and George Michael singing "Praying for Time":
And finally the announcement. David Archuleta looks neither surprised nor upset. He seems genuinely happy for Cook. Cook, on his part, asks the audience to give it up for Archuleta and keeps an arm around him. Cook is joined onstage by his mother and brother Andrew. Cook blames it all on Andrew. Later, on the catwalk, singing the retchy new "coronation" song, "Time of My Life," that includes lyrics about a magic rainbow, Cook again calls Archuleta over and puts an arm around him. They appear to have a very brotherly relationship. It's nice. The fireworks go off, the confetti drops, Cook finishes singing and drops his face in his hand again, crying. We close with Andrew mouthing to the camera, "That's my brother." It sure is.
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