American Idol Season 7: And the Winner Is…

I went into last night expecting to be disappointed, not because I felt Archie had more fans than David Cook, but also because season 7 of American Idol has been so crappy that it would have been poetic to have it end in tragedy too.

But alas, it did not. In fact, they really made me look foolish by giving us several gifts.

Let’s review: first, David Cook’s fun “Sharp Dressed Man” with ZZ Top. The performance itself wasn’t so great, but it was fun, which was nice. Also, good to see that ZZ Top is still alive and that Sharp Dressed Man is still a good song, and that American Idol didn’t remove all of the instrumental bits.

Then came a real gem, the second “gave me chills” moment of the season, when Brooke White delivered a gorgeous rendition of “Teach Your Children” with Graham Nash. Nash was humble and restrained, White was on-key, confident, and natural. The entire ballad was not only beautiful, but also well captured. The mix favored the harmony over the melody by just a little, just enough to highlight Brooke – after all, it was her performance – but not overdo it. All in all, it was a home run, and it was so easy to enjoy a connection with Brooke’s entirely sincere happiness at having just performed with Graham Nash.

In case anyone forgot, the best part of the night – by far, in my book – was the fantastic Ben Stiller/Jack Black/Robert Downey Jr. skit as backup singers to Gladys Knight. Jack Black can be a comic genius at times, and his overplayed backup singer was classic, especially when he went off-stage to tend to Downey and return with his pants down – inexplicably. Also, his facial expressions were key to delivery. Well done producers, well done.

Now, as you might know if you’ve read my blog, I am not a David Archuleta fan. I find him to be a singer without a niche, lacking finesse; he has the instrument, but doesn’t know how to control it. He can’t sing a melody without peppering it with runs and vocal tricks. His music is lite FM adult contemporary blandness. His interviews tank consistently as he can’t form a sentence beyond the general “It feels so cool” boringness. And his eyes scare me more than a little. There’s just no substance there to like. My opinion only. This is what bothered me so much: the judges, especially worthless Randy Jackson, with the only exception being Simon once in a while, were unable to offer a single bit of criticism on his last 5 performances. The gave him a free pass most of the season, even when he flubbed lyrics.

So imagine my surprise when during the finale, he came out and capably sang OneRepublic’s beautiful “Too Late to Apologize.” I take that back, it wasn’t just capably, it was flat out great. It was actually better and more controlled than the lead singer from OneRepublic himself! It was really a good note to end on, no pun intended.

And then came the last few moments, when the more deserving David Cook was crowned Idol and began crying. The touching “This is your fault!” he yelled at his brother.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this was still the worst season of Idol, but David Cook may be my favorite Idol yet – the only one whose record I might actually consider listening to. So I have to say, it ends on a high note, and despite my threats, I’ll probably be watching next January.

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