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American Idol, Send Archuleta Home

Sometimes things don't work out the way you thought they would.

The GIANTS won the Super Bowl.

No Country for Old Men had a LOUSY ending.

And David Archuleta is NOT the top singer on American Idol.

Yeah, that's right. I said it. The 17-year-old wunderkind-warbler that so many of us thought was a lock to win the whole shebang is not the best.

Sure, David A. has had some great performances this year, and has put most of the other singers to shame. But this week, going head-to-head against David Cook and Syesha Mercado, I think David Archuleta was definitely the weakest link.

It's not that David was that BAD. At this point, all three are so good, it really comes down to who messes up. Even if it's a little bit.

It probably hasn't helped David any that his father has been in the news so much. Over the weekend, there were reports that his dad had been banned from backstage on Idol because he was such an overbearing ... well ... um ... you know ... that part of the body where the sun rarely shines.

Some reports say he has driven his son to tears. Others suggest he's been on the verge of physically abusive, denying his son water during rehearsals.

I don't know about all that. But David's singing coach has confirmed that his father has been banned from helping his son choose the arrangement of songs, apparently stemming from his suggestion that his son ad-lib some lyrics last week -- which forced producers to pay for the rights to more than one song.

It's complicated, but ultimately, it doesn't really matter how overbearing Jeff Archuleta has been. The point is that David has undoubtedly seen and heard some of these reports, and they might be affecting his performances.

But the bottom line is: David's just not an American Idol. He's too young. I know what you're thinking. Jordin Sparks was only 17. She wasn't too young. But there's something different about David A. It's not the fact that he's 17. It's that he's childish and goofy.

No question he's a heck of a singer, and probably has an enormous singing career ahead of him. But he shouldn't win Idol. There. I said it.

They say all good things come in threes. Think about it. Three blind mice. Three little pigs. Three men in a tub. And this week, Idol tried to follow the rule of threes.

Three singers are left.

There are three performances for each singer.

There are three chances to screw up.

This time, the performances were divided into three rounds. In the first round, contestants sang songs chosen by the judges. In the second round, they sang songs that they chose on their own. For the third round, the Idols had to perform songs chosen by the producers.

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

ROUND ONE: Judges' Choice

David Archuleta:

Paula had him sing Billy Joel's "And So It Goes." Great vocals as always, but this didn't really wow me. David is terrific at the ballads, so I feel like he needs to do more than just "sing" them if he wants to win. Randy said he was in the zone. Paula said it was pure and beautiful. Simon said very good, but predictable and not outstanding.

Syesha Mercado:

At Randy's request, Syesha sang "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. She looked great, and her vocals were out of this world. Hints of Whitney Houston, if you ask me. Randy said it was amazing and that she's peaking at the right time. Paula said she looked stunning. Simon said she sang it well, but wished Randy had picked a different song.

David Cook:

Simon had David C. sing "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. It started very conventionally, but then picked up a bit. It really showcased David's vocals, which we're not used to. He changed up the arrangement at the end and really brought it home. Randy said he liked it but thought Simon should have picked a more modern song. (Touché Randy!) Paula said after Roberta Flack it was her favorite rendition of that song. Simon thought it was David's best performance to date.

Winner: Syesha. She blew us away with her vocals and knocked our socks off with her looks.

Middle: David Cook. He's always changing it up. You never know what to expect.

Loser: David Archuleta. Didn't hit a home run.

ROUND TWO: Contestants' Choice

David Archuleta:

David chose "With You" by Chris Brown because he thought it was young and fresh. It was a good choice to showcase his uber-smooth voice, but there wasn't much stage performance to accompany his silky pipes. And he still has that terribly awkward feel about him the second he finishes a song. He's a great singer, but not a great performer yet. Randy said it wasn't the right song choice. Paula disagreed and thought it was the perfect song. Simon said it wasn't him and felt like he was watching a Chihuahua imitating a tiger. Wow, that's an interesting visual.

Syesha Mercado:

Syesha opted to sing "Fever" by Peggy Lee. She tried to vamp it up by dancing around a chair on stage, but she kind of ruined it by talking about it with Ryan beforehand. She should have left it a surprise. The song didn't really show off her vocals very much. And the chair didn't add as much to the performance as you'd think. Randy said she sang it well. Paula was surprised by the song choice. Simon said she'd regret the song tomorrow and that it was a "cabaret" performance.

David Cook:

David chose "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot. Playing guitar, he was the first (and only) performer of the night to play an instrument. He sang it well enough, but it was a typical rock performance that we've come to expect from David C. Randy said it was a little pitchy. Paula said she was hoping for more. Simon said it was what he expected and not very melodic.

Winner: David Cook by default. All three had questionable song choices. David's just wasn't as bad as the others.

Middle: David Archuleta. Better singing than Syesha, but just barely.

Loser: Syesha Mercado. Simon's right and her song choice was dismal. The performance around it wasn't great either.

ROUND THREE: Producers' Choice

David Archuleta:

David sang "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. He didn't change the arrangement very much. Except for a key change and a few higher notes, it was a pretty standard rendition. Randy said another hot one from David. Paula called it lovely. Simon said he sang it well, but thought the song (which David didn't choose, mind you) was horrible.

Syesha Mercado:

Syesha sang "Hit Me Up" from the movie Happy Feet. Great vocals, despite a song that lends itself to the beat, not the actual singing. But she figured out how to make her voice stand out amid the percussion. It actually invoked feelings of Rihanna in me. Randy said it was just okay for him. Paula said not the best song choice. (Again, Syesha didn't pick it.) Simon said it was forgettable.

David Cook:

David sang Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." Seems like the perfect song for him, so I thought this would be an unfair advantage. But David really surprised me by drastically changing the arrangement. It was almost symphonic at the beginning, and he even managed to turn the more traditional rock 'n roll parts into his own. Randy said it was okay for him but predictable. Paula said, "See ya in the finals." Simon said he won the night.

Winner: David Cook. Even when you think you know what to expect, he manages to surprise us.

Middle: Syesha Mercado. Salvaged a decent performance despite a lackluster song.

Loser: David Archuleta. I get it, he can sing. But can he perform?

Overall, I think Simon was right and David Cook won the night. Syesha edged out David Archuleta in my book. It's time to give David A. his ticket back to Utah. We'll see if viewers agree on Wednesday. See you then.

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

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