Tonight they went with a boxing theme for the whole show. They had the contestants in robes and even a ring announcer. It was kind of cheesy, but not in a really bad way.
Round 1: Clive Davis' Picks
David Cook – "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For": B+
I would not have thought of picking this song for David Cook. Going in I was a little worried about whether he would be able to pull it off. It's one of U2's most well known and most played songs. It almost seems as though I've heard this song at least once a week since the day it came out back in 1987. Cook wisely changed up the overall sound a bit and didn't do a Bono impersonation. I thought he did an excellent job with it actually. He sounded good and I felt he really connected with it. It didn't really take off the way I thought it was going to, but it was still a very good performance.
David Archuleta – "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me": A-
I don't think Clive Davis was really going out on a limb with this choice. It's definitely a song that is well suited for Archuleta. That being said, Archuleta brought a little something extra to it that I wasn't expecting. He started the song in his normal fashion of sounding good, but not spectacular. About halfway through, he stood up – at that point he seemed to be completely into it. In the song's second half he took a few more chances vocally and delivered an emotional rendition.
Round 2: Coronation Songs (The contestants got to choose from the top 10 songs of the American Idol songwriting contest.)
David Cook – "Dream Big": B
This was a tough one for me. These songs almost always suck. They try to come up with something that "fits" the moment (and I think there might be bonus points for actually including the word "moment" in the song), and they are always so corny. Cook turned his into a modern rocker that I thought was top 40 radio-ready. It wasn't the greatest performance in the world, but it was pretty good. Vocally it might have only been a B-, but after listening to it a couple more times and weighing in the effort to make it really sound like a song he would do, I'm raising it to a B. The chorus was pretty catchy and the ending showed off the big vocals I was hoping to hear.
David Archuleta – "In This Moment": B+
Archuleta's song was more of the typical American Idol final show performance everyone who's been watching the show for the past seven years is familiar with. It was a big ballad all about being "In This Moment." Archuleta, however, was all about proving he wants to win this contest. He really put his all into a not very good song. He sounded great. It's not really what I'm personally into, but I've got to hand it to him: he brought the goods to this final performance night. As a side note – Randy said for both David's that the songs were "just okay for him." Why does he bother saying that? There is nothing the contestants can do about those cheesy songs! Plus it hurts the songwriter's feelings.
Round 3: Contestants' Picks
David Cook – "The World I Know": B
Cook chose Collective Soul's "The World I Know" for his final performance. I was expecting a big surprising knock-out kind of performance along the lines of "Billie Jean" or "Hello." This wasn't that. However, I did like the somewhat subtle and emotional performance he gave. I'm not sure it was right for the final competition night, but it was nice. It was also hard not to be affected by how moved Cook was at the end of it. Simon praised Cook for being a "nice guy," but scolded him for not doing one of the two songs I mentioned above. Cook said he felt he wanted to do something new instead of rehashing a previous performance. I do agree with Cook's point of view. It's more of a challenge – and more interesting – to do something new. However, in this case it might have been good for Cook to remind the audience of his peak performances. Also, there are a lot of people who don't tune in until the final few (if not the last) episodes who may have never seen those early songs. So overall this performance was good, but not outstanding.
David Archuleta – "Imagine": B
Archuleta, on the other hand, chose to do "Imagine," which he had previously performed during week two of this season. This was another hard one for me. I know this performance was popular with a lot of people, and Archuleta himself considered it his best, but personally I did not like it. I didn't like the arrangement at all, so that kind of ruined the song for me. However, if I just objectively judge his vocal performance, I have to say it was pretty good.
Winner Of The Night:
David Archuleta –
As I stated earlier, Archuleta gave this night everything he had. He brought that little extra fire that's usually lacking in his performances. Cook did well but was missing his usual drive. At the beginning Cook said that the "competition is over" and he's "just having a good time." That's pretty much the way he played the night.
Winner Of American Idol:
David Cook -
I still think Cook will pull it off.