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“Follow dreams…my dreams are the fuel that powers my life. Today I choose to follow them.” (four times)
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Simon wanted it all season. The judges did everything they could to coax America to vote for it last week. Finally, the David vs. David showdown was reality last night on American Idol. Two Davids, two dreams, but only one spot as the next American Idol.
With everything on the line, Kansas City native David Cook stepped to the microphone first. Tasked by legendary producer Clive Davis with singing U2’s classic “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, Cook succeeded in doing what he had done all year. He took a classic song and updated it for the new generation. Few singers can sing U2, but Cook flawlessly weaved the existing greatness of the song with his own dead-on musical instincts to deliver a strong first performance.
Suprisingly, the judges did not seem to find “what they were looking for” in the performance. In fact, all night the judges’ preference for Archuleta was apparent. They seemed to criticize Cook for the very originality they had praised all season.
Then it was time for the 17 year-old Archuleta to have his moment “in the sun”. Davis selected the Elton John classic “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”. The talented young performer delivered a stunning vocal performance that brought the crowd to its feet and drew unqualified praise from Randy, Paula, and Simon.
As he did last week with the Billy Joel song “And So It Goes”, Archuleta proved he could take a classic song by an industry giant and produce vocals those stars could only dream about on their own songs.
Despite Cook’s amazing performance, Simon summed it up, “Round 1 to Archuleta.”
The second songs of the evening were selected by the contestents from the top 10 songs created specifically for the Idol finale. David Cook delivered a solid performance, but Archuleta’s song seemed a better fit and he sang it for all he was worth. Again, the judges gave the nod to David A.
For round 3, the Davids were allowed to pick their own song. It could be something they sang earlier in the season or something new. David Cook chose Collective Soul’s “The World I Know”. Again, Cook proved that performers in this genre of music will soon be making room for him on the charts. While the song did not deliver the climactic bang Simon was seeking, it showed that David Cook is an artist and an original who will be heard from after the Idol lights fade.
Finally, David Archuleta took the stage for the season’s final song. He selected John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Let’s face it, this is one of the greatest songs ever. However, it is usually performed in vocally uninteresting ways. The young prodigy from Utah closed the show with an unbelievable rendition. He uncovered shades and nuances of the song with his vocals that I’ve never heard. It was really amazing!
In the charged response that followed, Simon declared that young David had, “Scored a knockout”.
Of course, that determination is up to voters across the country. We will all find out tonight on the results show whether America concurs with the judges.
Yet, this much is clear. David Archuleta rose to the occasion last night when every dream the young singer must have was battling against the nerves he must have been experiencing. He challenged a very talented, more experienced singer who is also heading for superstardom and he won.
There will only be one American Idol crowned this evening, but both Davids will emerge with their dreams in tact. Both are winners beyond the obligatory compliment used to soothe the pain of defeat.
American Idol continues to roll along not because it is a singing competiton, but because it taps into our collective desire to see dreams come true. Seeing it reminds us all that ours are still possible too.