Judges essentially declare David Archuleta American Idol 7’s winner

After American Idol 7 finalists David Archuleta and David Cook each sang three songs–including one they’d each selected from the songwriting competition’s losers–during the finale, a win by Archuleta seems inevitable, assuming his fans vote. Even David Cook seems resigned to losing, telling Entertainment Weekly, “I think you go into tonight kinda seeing the forest for the trees, but winning’s never been what’s driven me about this competition.”

Interestingly, though, MSNBC’s Courtney Hazlett quotes an anonymous source who claims “producers are really hoping that David Cook wins” because “David Archuleta cannot be managed the way that 19 Entertainment wants to manage their winners,” as he “comes to the table with his own plans and agenda. His father is another shade of Joe Simpson, and it can only spell disaster.” But David Cook “is extremely manageable” and producers don’t “want is a rogue winner,” the source said.

If that’s true, and sketchy anonymous sources are always sketchy, it’s really hard to imagine that producers’ hopes affected the competition last night, because the judges all but declared David Archuleta the winner before voting even started. Then again, maybe their praise was a ploy to energize David Cook’s fans to vote to ensure his win. Conspiracy theories are so fun: they work no matter what evidence you have!

“We’ve taken a little bit of stick this year, the competition, but at the end of the day, this show is about finding star, and tonight, I think we’ve witnessed one of the great finals,” Simon Cowell said after one of David Archuleta’s performances. “But here’s the difference, in my opinion, David, you came out here tonight to win, and what we have witnessed, is a knock-out.”

And Randy Jackson told David, who did his blank-stare, “thank you, thank you” shtick but looked like he was going to burst into tears and/or have a breakdown at the same time, “Dude, you are so good tonight. You are exactly what this show is about, finding the best singer we can find, and the best singer of season seven is right there!”

American Idol‘s rhetoric has always been fascinating, from Ryan Seacrest’s insistence that 30 million people are watching (even when it’s far fewer people than that) to the way he always says “your American Idol,” as everything seems designed to inspire a certain response in the audience. Last night’s boxing match theme was a fascinating choice for a season that has been utterly boring and anything but a fight. But like politicians and pundits, Idol‘s producers pushed that metaphor hard, as if the strength of their conviction alone would make it come true.

Michael “let’s get ready to rumble” Buffer declared the finale to be “the biggest showdown in showbiz history,” and Ryan Seacrest said that the show would award a “heavyweight title reserved only for superstars.” Producers really should have gone with professional wrestling as a metaphor, because then their lies and exaggerations would have been much less transparent. Still, the boxing metaphor worked, if only because the media lapped it up like greedy little pigs at a trough.

‘American Idol’ Q&As: The Davids Speak! [Entertainment Weekly]
‘Idol’ producers reportedly want Cook to win [MSNBC]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.