Early in tonight's finale, former bartender and current rocker David Cook told the audience that, as far as he was concerned, the competition is over and tonight is just for fun.
When he said that, I knew he was going to lose.
You've got to bring everything you have at the finale, and David Archuleta did that. He nailed the first song, picked a great never-before-heard second song that showed off his vocals, and -- most importantly -- chose to sing "Imagine" again for his last song. Now, Archuleta sang Imagine earlier this season, and it was the performance that made people notice him. It was absolutely his best performance of the season, and when he said that he was singing Imagine one more time because it was his best performance, I knew he was, as Randy likes to say, "in it to win it, dawg."
Contrast this with David Cook, who sang some sort of rock ballad for the final song. This was the absolute wrong choice. Randy commended him for choosing a song that showed a softer side of David Cook, but we don't want a softer side. We want the David Cook who sang an amazing version of Billie Jean earlier in the season and absolutely brought the house down. Simon Cowell, who always calls it like it is, told him the same thing. "It was absolutely the wrong song," he said. "You should have done Billie Jean."
Cook's response: "Why do a song I've already done?"
The answer: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW YOU WIN. Archuleta knew that, and he brought his best song back, and -- this is key -- he actually improved on it! The two minor criticisms I had of his earlier performance of Imagine were that his transition to falsetto needed work and the final "join us" lyric was flat because he didn't support. Well ya know what? HE FIXED IT. The transition to falsetto was beautifully smooth, and he support enough so that all of the notes -- including "join us" -- were dead on perfect.
Tonight, according to Simon, David Archuleta scored a knock out. Simon is, as usual, absolutely right. Cook has a pleasant rocker voice, but Archuleta has got a soaring tenor that is simply beautiful. And the best part is, his voice is only going to get better.