Reality Rocks - Archive

The Final Idol Fight: Has Cook Been Knocked Out?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

About six years ago, my mom phoned me, spasticaly sputtering, barely able to spit her words out because she was laughing so hard. She'd just seen some tone-deaf wackjob with delusions of grandeur get flat-out insulted by some surly flattopped Brit, on some hilarious new talent show called American Idol. She ordered me to turn on Fox immediately, I did as I was told (she's my mother, after all)...and my life hasn't been the same since.

I'm not sure if I should thank her or scorn her for turning me on to this TV obsession. Probably the former. So I've thanked her over the years by taking her to various Idol events, like last year's Jordin-vs.-Blake finale (read blog here) and Yahoo!'s Nissan Live Sets show with Kelly Clarkson (see blog). And tonight I escorted my mom--who, like me, is a proud member of the Team Cook cheerleading squad--to the season 7 David-vs.-David showdown at L.A.'s Nokia Theater.

Here's me and my mom, Leslie Parker (aka "LP Sr."), in front of the Nokia right after we collected our tickets from will call--when we were super-excited because we'd just spotted Idol alums Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell, Constantine Maroulis, and Chris Sligh milling about, and we were about to see David The C rock our Idol-logo'd socks off:

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Gee, and you wonder where I inherit my strong opinions from, huh? 

Anyway, after the show we weren't quite as excited. We were actually pretty worried that we'd soon be hanging up our Team Cook cheerleading pom-poms for good. But more on our post-show reaction later. First, let's discuss what went down inside the Nokia tonight...

When we first entered the theater, we felt like we'd arrived at the official site of Team Cook HQ. There were noticeably more pro-Cook glitterglue signs than Archie ones ("Maybe Archuleta's fans are too embarrassed to hold signs," my mother quipped in her typical Parker-smarmy manner), and when the crowd-warmup comedian dude demanded that audience members cheer for their fave Dave, Cook elicited much more deafening, Beatles-at-JFK-style shrieks.

Then the Davids came out dressed in satin prizefighters' robes (part of the evening's whole hokey boxing-match motif), and David C. sure filled out that robe much more nicely than his punier opponent. Cook looked like the real heavyweight, the true rock star. Then Cook sang U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I've Looking For" (as astutely chosen for him by Clive Davis) in full Bono-messiah mode. "I have goosbumps," my mom murmured to me. It sure seemed like 19/Fox/BMG had found what they were looking for. They'd found their new Idol, all right.

But then, it almost appeared that Cook was trying to throw this match. No, the scenario wasn't as bad as Jason Castro's forgetting of lyrics and mouthing "Don't vote!" to the cameras, but the whole situation was still pretty suspicious. And very disappointing.

First, Archie countered in round 1 with the Clive-selected "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (which my mom jokingly retitled "Don't Let My Dad Come Down On Me"), and though I've made it clear over the course of my many Idol blogs that I am no Archuleta fan, I must say he seemed in it to win it. To continue with the multi-paragraph boxing analogy: David A. was up against the ropes, so he came out swinging. He delivered the kind of big, bold performance necessary to stay in the game. At times his demeanor bordered on desperate, as if he was a little too hungry, as if he wanted it a little too much...but even I have to admit he did good. The judges thought so, too: Simon went so far as to declare Archie the winner of round 1.

Uh-oh.

Round 2 consisted of "coronation songs" selected from a batch of the 10 most popular original tunes that were available for online voting. David C. went first, singing an uptempo pop-rocker called "Dream Big." I personally appreciated the fact that he didn't choose a typical "I Believe A Moment Like This Is My Now"-style ballad (after all, being forced to perform such stylistically inappropriate finale ballads led to the downfall of other rockin' top-two contenders, like Bo Bice and Blake Lewis, in the past). "Dream Big" was sort of "Summer Of '69"/"Jesse's Girl"-retro in vibe, and it suited Cook well, but it wasn't the kind of chest-thumping, "Star-Spangled Banner"-esque victory anthem that gets Idol voters all verklempt...like Archie's chosen coronation song, a more formulaic, Star Search-y tearjerker titled "In This Moment." So Simon declared Archie the winner of round 2 as well. My mother and I subsequently booed...but I don't think Simon heard us over the din of gleefully screaming Archuleta fans, who'd suddenly gotten much louder.

LP Sr. and I were starting to worry now. But we were even more distressed after round 3.

See, for the final head-to-head match, the Davids sang songs of their own choosing. Archuleta wisely did what most past contestants have done: He picked his favorite, most memorable song of the season, in his case the five-hanky John Lennon weeper "Imagine." He sang it as well as he did back during '60s Week, and he naturally got his third standing ovation of the night.

So what did Cook choose? "Billie Jean"? "Hello"? "Hungry Like The Wolf," even? Nope. He sang a draggy, forgettable, never-performed Collective Soul song, "The World I Know."

What the frick?

This is when my mom and I started to wonder if Cook was deliberately trying to throw the competition. Had Jeff Archuleta's goons threatened him or something? Or maybe, as I postulated in my last Idol blog, Cook also thought he might be better off coming in second? How else to explain such a so-so song selection at this crucial stage in the game? Whatever the reason, Cook seemed cooked. Simon declared the show a total "knockout" by Archuleta, and then my mom and I slumped out of the Nokia with Ruben Studdard's sad exit music not-so-celebrating us home.

Here's our mother/daughter Team Cook post-show reaction, with the wind taken slightly out of our pom-poms:

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Oh well, at least we got some cross-generational family bonding out of the experience. I'm glad I have a healthier relationship with my parent than Archie reportedly has with his stage dad, who'd probably be furious if his golden-boy son didn't win. So I guess Li'l David must be relieved, now that he pretty much seems to have run away with the season 7 Idol title.

But we'll just have to wait to find out which David really is the seventh American Idol. Come back tomorrow for the big announcement and all the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the press room and on the red carpet.

Seacrest out...

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