And then there were two — who were both named David.
Before the conclusion of Wednesday night's "American Idol" results show, and before host Ryan Seacrest revealed who was staying and who was going, judge Simon Cowell predicted there would be a "real humdinger next week. " There certainly will be, now that the battle royale the audience has been waiting weeks and weeks for is finally on deck.
The battle of the Davids is a go, and David Cook — the 25-year-old "Daughtry Dos" with the Peppermint Patty comb-over — and David Archuleta — the charming 17-year-old with the cherubic face who says "gosh" a whole bunch — are set to take the stage for the show's season-seven finale.
America seemingly agreed with the judges' assessment Tuesday night that Syesha Mercado, the soulful 21-year-old actress, just didn't perform Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You," Peggy Lee's "Fever" and Gia Farrell's "Hit Me Up" well enough to secure her a spot in the top two. Mercado seemed to anticipate as much just before Seacrest sent her packing. Her posture and her eyes reflected that she knew this was the end of her journey.
Stationed center stage with Archuleta, who exuded nervousness, and Cook, who was reserved and confident, Mercado looked down at the floor, smiling, as her arms were interlocked with her competitors.
Before the elimination, in front of a packed, live studio audience that included Andrew Lloyd Webber and former contestants Kristy Lee Cook, Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay, Amanda Overmyer, Chikezie and David Hernandez, and after host Ryan Seacrest remarked twice about judge Paula Abdul's cleavage, the remaining three contestants belted out a rendition of McFadden and Whitehead's disco tune "Ain't No Stopping Us Now." Archuleta and Cook elicited ecstatic wailing from the adoring crowd. For Syesha? Not so much. Cook seemed to struggle with the cheesy, choreographed dance number that accompanied the tune.
Then came the weekly Ford commercial, in which the gang find a fortune teller who shows them what their future holds: gold records, cars and mansions — all to the tune of Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven."
Season-three winner Fantasia gave a funky — and somewhat frightening — performance that left Cowell's jaw wide open in horror as she danced around the stage in a figure-hugging jumpsuit. (What did you think of Fantasia's whirlwind act? Head to the Newsroom blog to sound off on the "Idol" champ's divisive performance.) Next, Seacrest called out Archuleta, and we caught a glimpse of his return home to Murray, Utah, where, forever, May 9 will be "David Archuleta Day." The footage followed Archuleta to several stops where there were teenage girls as far as the eye could see, screaming and grabbing at him as husky security guards pushed their arms away. It was all too much for Archuleta, who let his emotions get to him and burst into tears of gratitude.
Mercado visited Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida, where she did all the local morning talk shows and where May 9 will henceforth be known as "Syesha Mercado Day." Her eyes, too, welled with tears. "This is my dream," she said, sniffing and wiping away the tears. "I'm living it."
Then came Cook, who was met with a "We love you, David!" from the audience that hushed Seacrest for a minute. Cook also stopped by the radio stations, the local news stations and his high school music teacher when he visited Kansas City and Blue Springs, Missouri. He sang Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." Girls swooned, cried and shuttered in his presence. The turnout for his appearances was daunting, and Cook eventually broke down and cried too. He recovered and was lucky enough to throw the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game.
For Mercado, it's the end of a rocky road. With her huge voice and stunning beauty, she survived being in the bottom seven times and lasted longer than any of the other female competitors. But she was no match for the massive fan support of the final two contestants, and it seems, the Battle of the Davids was just in the cards.
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