Why Didn’t David Archuleta Win ‘American Idol’? Five Things That Went Wrong For Early Front-Runner

For months, Archie seemed to have a lock on the title -- so why did David Cook win by 12 million votes?

If you are a fan of David Archuleta, you probably went to bed Tuesday night feeling pretty confident that he’d be crowned the next “American Idol” champ. After all, he’d just delivered a trio of knock-out performances on the show’s penultimate night, drawing raves from the “Idol” judges , winning over the studio audience and getting his fellow finalist — former bartender David Cook — to admit defeat .

Things were looking pretty good. Arch showed up, blew ‘em away and closed big time. All that was left to do on Wednesday night was fit him for his crown and send him off into the stratosphere. Only, things didn’t exactly play out that way.

In a shock to pretty much everyone, it was Cook who walked away with the “Idol” title, and his margin of victory wasn’t even close. The Comb-Over King trounced Archuleta by more than 12 million votes , leaving many Arch-aholics to clutch their Precious Moments figurines tightly, gaze heavenward and wonder just what went wrong.

Well, we’re glad you asked. Because we were about as shocked as you were. So we convened an emergency meeting of the MTV News “American Idol” brain trust, and came up with the following list. It may not lessen the pain of his defeat, but it may get you through the tough times. Or it may just make you mad. You know, whatever.

1. He Was the New England Patriots
More than 97.5 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLII, which featured the undefeated, incredibly hyped (and heavily favored) Patriots take on the New York Giants. And of that audience, do you think more people wanted to see the Pats win and secure their rightful place in history, or lose epically, in a big, bursting ball of flames? Basically, ever since February, when he took a seat behind the big black piano and belted out a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” Archuleta was the “Idol” version of the Patriots: constantly hyped , shoved down everyone’s throats and crowned long before the season was over. Also like the Patriots, none of this was really Arch’s fault. Still, the damage was done. America hates a front-runner, which is why there was much rejoicing when the Giants upset the Patriots, and why, in the end, 12 million more people decided to cast their vote for David Cook.

2. He Was Incongruous
David Archuleta mid-note? Graceful, skilled, soulful and powerful. David Archuleta mid-conversation? Gawking, stammering, awkward and goofy. In the history of “Idol,” there has perhaps been no other contestant who displayed such a disparity between the personal and the professional, and in the end, that cost him. We all loved Archuleta the performer, but after his 47th “aw, shucks” interview (highlighting his bizarre breathing pattern), we were ready to show Archuleta the person the door. This is basically the same thing that did in Melinda Doolittle last season.

3. He Was Al Gore
Or, more specifically, his supporters were Florida Democrats. During the 2000 election, all five major networks called the state of Florida for Democratic candidate Al Gore at 7 p.m. EST, despite the fact that the panhandle of the state actually falls in the Central time zone, meaning that polls there would remain open for another hour. Theoretically, the fact that Gore was the presumed winner could’ve discouraged Democrats in the panhandle from heading out to the polls, since their candidate had already carried the state. Gore ended up losing Florida by a total of 537 votes. Could Tuesday night’s “Idol” telecast — in which all three judges basically crowned Archuleta as the “Idol” champ before polls had even opened — have had the same effect? Were Archuleta fans discouraged from voting because they assumed he already had the competition in the bag?

4. He Has a Creepy Stage Dad
There’s no nice way to say this: Arch’s dad gave pretty much everyone the heebie-jeebies (the goatee, the hat, the resemblance to Kevin Pollak in “The Usual Suspects”) and his constant presence — not to mention the rumors that his brazen careerism made Joan Crawford and Dina Lohan look like concerned, caring parents — ruined the whole “diamond in the rough” thing for his son. Instead, many came to see Archuleta as a robotic singing machine that had been trained (forced?) to perform since the age of 12 (you know, when he was on “Star Search”) by his taskmaster father. And when “Idol” producers banned his father from the backstage area , well, let’s just say that didn’t help matters any.

5. He Was One-Dimensional
In the end, the biggest knock against Archuleta was that he never showed he had range outside the majestic world of balladry. His choices of songs never strayed much from tried-and-true schmaltz (Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road,” Neil Diamond’s “America”), and when he did try to stretch things a bit, the results were disastrous, like his take on Chris Brown’s “With You.” While all this may have made him a mortal lock for the cats-and-cardigans set, it didn’t endear him much to anyone between the ages of 12 and 40. There’s a reason the show isn’t called “Adult Contemporary Idol.”

But even though he didn’t win “Idol,” that doesn’t mean that the future isn’t bright for Archuleta. His demeanor and looks seem tailor-made for the Miley Cyrus/ Jonas Brothers/ tween machine, and his big, booming voice could also make him a Josh Groban-level hit with older fans, as many industry insiders agree . So, while today might seem dark, we urge you to step back from the ledge, Archie fans. We suspect the kid will end up all right.

What do you think went wrong for David Archuleta? Let us know in the Newsroom Blog!

What did you think of the finale? Head to YouRHere.MTV.com to upload your video reactions to Cook’s big win, and check out what other “Idol” fanatics are saying!

Plus, you can get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page , where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions. And relive six seasons of “Idol” hot messes and high notes in six minutes with our video timeline .