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Emmys 2017
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American Idol recap: Boxing Day

Despite a tiresome prizefighting theme, the last performance episode is an exciting three-round match that Simon calls for David Archuleta over David Cook

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American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

”As far as I’m concerned, the competition’s over, and we’re just having fun.”

While those are the exact words David Cook used to describe his feelings about the final performance episode of the American Idol season, they also describe my own approach to looking at the evening’s indisputably entertaining festivities.

Because, really, let’s have a show of hands: How many of you came into tonight’s telecast undecided about whether David Cook or David Archuleta deserved the season 7 crown? And how many of you actually changed your minds by the time Ruben Studdard’s ”Celebrate Me Home” segued into the screaming and yelling and sautéing of Hell’s Kitchen?

(Yep, as expected, there are fewer than 10 of you out there.)

And so while I could blather on incessantly about how American Idol needs to crown a hip, radio-ready winner like Rocker David, fans of Little David could just as easily (and very correctly) counter with the fact that tonight’s finale was a vocal tour de force for their boy, a tidal wave of glory notes, runs, and misty eyelashes that only the most horrible kind of cynic would try to deny. (Sorry, haters, I’m not volunteering for that kamikaze mission.)

It’s weird, my current lack of fighting spirit. Maybe after 41 episodes, I’m too Idol-ed out to rail against Simon Cowell for essentially standing on his seat and reconfiguring last season’s Idol coronation theme into ”This Is Archie’s Now.” Maybe after getting repeatedly punched in the face by the episode’s overzealous boxing metaphor, I can’t get up off the mat and make note of the fact that Randy had been hand-stenciling his ”I’m an Arch Angel 4EVA” poster for the last several weeks. Heck, even Ryan got in on the action tonight, with a ”Well said, Mr. Cowell” only seconds after Simon declared the evening a knockout for Archuleta. (Et tu, Hostbot?)

But as Brooke White always liked to remind us, ”It’s okay. It’s okay.

Because while nothing and no one will ever convince me that David Cook didn’t prove himself the undisputed Idolweight champ over the last 14 weeks — and while I remain optimistic he will prevail when the votes are tabulated (and Idol fans realize they’ll need to take out home-equity loans to pay off their text-messaging bills) — I won’t gnash my teeth if it’s David Archuleta who gets the confetti shower on Wednesday night. No, he didn’t once step out of his gooey-ballad comfort zone tonight, but the kid left all 100 pounds of himself on the Idol stage, and still managed to give a post-show interview to my colleague Adam B. Vary. (Click here to read Adam’s Q&A’s with both Davids.)

Okay, but enough waffling. I’m paid to have an opinion. So cue up the Rocky theme and let’s discuss round 1, better known as Clive’s Choice! Or, alternatively, as the round in which Clive Davis continues his ongoing love affair with Elton John’s ”Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” the same song he chose for Bo Bice on top-three night in Idol‘s fourth season. Seriously, Clive, I know it’s a pretty ballad, but after spending almost six decades in the music business, don’t you know a few thousand great songs that you haven’t already foisted onto an Idol contestant? (And maybe one that hasn’t been covered on the show by Justin Guarini, Clay Aiken, and Jasmine Trias, as well?)

NEXT: Round 1 goes to David