American Idol, And the Winner Is ... David

This is the easiest American Idol I've ever had to call.

I am 100 percent certain that the winner of this year's Idol will be David.

Yup, I'm sure. No question about it. It's David. By a mile.

Okay, I've strung this joke out long enough. Obviously the winner will be David. The only question is, will it be David Archuleta or David Cook?

Actually, this IS one of the easiest Idol competitions I've ever had to call. Almost as easy as last year when Jordin Sparks left Blake Lewis in the dust.

I don't know if it makes you happy or sad, but it's pretty clear that this year's winner will be David Archuleta.

It shouldn't be a surprise. David A. was practically crowned the winner after week one. And he's been consistently great week after week. Never in the bottom three. Ever.

I'll admit I haven't been a huge Archuleta fan. At times I've thought he was too young, too immature, and too ... teenagey. But the reality is, this was Archuleta's contest to lose. David Cook is good, but not as good. In order for Cook to win, Archuleta. would have to mess up. Really mess up.

And he didn't.

To put it simply, he kicked arse. He had the voice. He had the look. He had the poise. And barring a phone outage in the state of Utah, he'll be the next American Idol.

Before I get to the songs, I just want to say that the beginning of the show was downright stupid. It started with both Davids coming out in boxing robes, introduced by that guy who says "Let's get ready to rumble ..." You know the guy. I bet you can look him up in Wikipedia just for by that line.

They kept up the whole sports/boxing theme throughout the whole show, which got a little annoying.

The competition was divided into three rounds. In the first, each contestant had to sing a song chosen by legendary music producer Clive Davis. In the second, the contestants could choose a song from one of 10 finalists in the Idol songwriting competition. In the third round, they'd get to sing any song of their choice. David Archuleta won a coin toss and decided to go second in all three rounds.

So how'd they do? Here's my take.

ROUND ONE: Clive Davis' Choice

David Cook:

For David C., Clive chose U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." It seemed perfect for him. Too perfect, maybe. David's made a name for himself by taking non-rock songs and turning them into rock songs. Unfortunately, this song is already there, so we got a pretty conventional version. He jazzed it up a little, but it really didn't sound much different from the live version on Rattle & Hum. Randy said it was hot, but didn't know if he did everything he could with it. Paula said David had arrived. Simon said he looked tense before the show, so taking that into account he thought it was phenomenal.

David Archuleta:

For David A., Clive went with Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Another seemingly perfect choice for the kid with the golden pipes. Before the competition, Andrew Lloyd Webber coached David and told him to be sure to keep his eyes open. So instead of closing them, David just squinted through most of the performance. But the vocals were remarkable. And his stage presence was beyond comfortable. For the first time this season, he actually looked like a singer, not just like a 17-year-old with a nice voice. Randy called it flawless and molten hot. Paula said she had chills. Simon said it was his best performance yet.

ROUND TWO: Idol Songwriter Competition

David Cook:

David C. picked something called "Dream Big." Playing guitar, he definitely looked like a rocker on stage. Except it kept him in one spot in front of the mike, which I think limited his performance. His vocals were good, although a little raspy. But the raspy quality definitely fit the song, which I did not like, by the way. It sounded a little like a montage song from a cheesy '80s movie. Randy said the song was just okay, but that David's voice made it work. Paula said he made her fall in love with the song. Simon said he liked the end, but it didn't feel like a winning performance.

David Archuleta:

David A. chose a song called "In This Moment." It was a slow, slightly cheesy melody too. Once again, he looked very comfortable on stage. And he really seemed to engage the audience with his eyes, at least when he wasn't squinting. The song was mediocre, but gave him several chances to show off the power and range of his voice, which he did quite nicely. Randy said he was in the zone. Paula said he was on fire. Simon said round two went to Archuleta.

ROUND THREE: Contestants' Choice

David Cook:

DC picked "The World I Know" by Collective Soul. Playing guitar again, this time he definitely puts his own stamp on it. The beginning was haunting, then picked up nicely. And this time, it let HIM show off his vocal power and some range, although he doesn't have as much as David A. Unfortunately, the song kind of petered out from there. It just kind of drizzled to a finish without a big ending at all. Randy said it was very nice. Paula said he was "standing in his truth." What does that mean? Simon said he's one of the nicest contestants they've had, but that it was the wrong song choice and that he should have done "Billie Jean" which he did earlier in the year. David disagreed and said he didn't want to do something he'd already sung, which we find out after the commercial break was a little dig at David A.

David Archuleta:

DA opted for John Lennon's "Imagine," which he DID sing earlier in the year. It was a smart choice considering how well he sang it, but I kind of agree with David C. that it seemed like the easy way out. It was great, though. Better than earlier in the season. Beautiful. Not my taste, personally, but beautiful. Randy said he's exactly what the show is about and called David Archuleta the best singer of season seven. Paula said she was left speechless but managed to keep babbling for a few seconds. Simon got the last word and said, sticking with the whole boxing theme, that it was a knockout.

Ruben Studdard closed out the show, in what felt like an afterthought.

The Bottom line: David Archuleta definitely outperformed David Cook. He was supposed to win, and he really ought to. Which means Wednesday's two-hour finale will be about as interesting as watching paint dry. But I guess you never know. Anything can happen. See you tomorrow.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.