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The Daughtry That Won

The Daughtry That Won


David is your new American Idol champ. The older, more poised, less-freaked-out, lite-rock David, that is. Now, read how...

I'm thinking about what I'm going to do for the next couple of months with all the freed-up time I'm going to have, precious moments that I normally spend watching and rewatching this show and writing these recaps. The kitchen needs painting. The shower needs to be recaulked. There are records to buy. I just got long-dead metal band Hellhammer's Demon Entrails and it's pretty sick. I think I'll be playing that a lot in the next week to sort of cleanse my listen-holes of all American Idol music-barf. I was also planning on making that fancy apple-and-pear-chutney turkey burger I saw being made on Oprah last week. That looked pretty tasty for a turkey burger. And I hate turkey burgers. Or I could volunteer my time at some charity and, you know, "give back."

Who knows what I'll do? Whatever it is, I believe that it's going to feel like flying without wings.

One thing I won't do is think about the images that Fox is trying to molest my mind with right now, the grotesque scenario of a boxing match between the Davids. Tuesday night's show begins with music from Rocky and a boxing-ring microphone being lowered while that guy who says "Let's get ready to rumbuhhhhhhhl!" yells about how this is the match "of the century" and blah blah blah. And then Rumble Guy shouts "Let's get ready to rumbuhhhhhhhl!" and out come the top two singers. Cook is described as being 180 pounds and "the real deal." Then Rumble Guy yells that this singer's name is "DAVID 'SUGARFOOT' COOOOOOOK!"

The hyperbole is matched by Cook himself, who, wearing a red satin robe, bounces and jabs and uppercuts and pounds his boxing gloves together. This is how rock-and-roll credibility is earned today, by behaving like an eager, pliable, trained career-monkey for The Man. "Sure, you want me in a robe? It's all good. Should I dress up like a taco? Because I will. Dance all gay to 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now?' No problem. Sing Lion King songs but like in the manner of Chris Cornell? Yes, absolutely."

It's kind of like that time the Velvet Underground went on The Dinah Shore Show with special guest Sandy Duncan and -- oh, wait, I'm sorry, THAT SHIT NEVER HAPPENED.

And in the other corner, "weighing around 100 pounds, soaking wet," says the Rumble Guy, as the first of many emasculating moments for Archuleta gets under way, is "DAVID 'BABYFAAAAAAACE' ARCHULETA!"

Seriously. This is actually happening.

Then Rumble Guy yells "This is American Idol!" and Seacrest does not. There's no Seacrest in sight. Instead the camera flashes to the audience, where all of the season's discards -- Syesha, Castro, Brooke, CARLY, Kristy Lee, the Aussie, Ramiele, Chikezie, and in the back row is gay stripper guy and Amanda, who's leaning to the side of her seat, clapping like she has to. Body language = Over. It.

Camera cuts to Luke Perry. He's been makin' babies. I have no idea with whom. They just show him draped with tots. OK, now here's Seacrest. He asks for Cook fans to cheer. Then Archuleta fans. Roaring crowds in the massively large Nokia Theater -- which is downtown, as opposed to the much smaller, former-home-to-the-Idol-finale Kodak Theater, which is where the Oscars happen and is in pissing range of my apartment and usually a tangle of awful traffic and buzzing helicopters -- indicate that no one is going to win and it will be an atomic blast of frustrated tie-ness, a death orgy of screams and teeth-gnashing and a Scanners-style head explosion courtesy of Papchuleta.

I mean, I hope.

Seacrest introduces a clip reel that will explain "how the contestants stack up against each other." Cut to longtime sports anchor Jim Lampley, who's being billed as simply a "boxing analyst" to mouth obviousnesses like "there's only one winner." Then Seacrest continues to talk about how one of them will win and become a superstar like Kelly, Daughtry, and Carrie. Except Daughtry didn't win. Ruben and Fantasia and The Boogie and Ariel from The Little Mermaid won. But these days, The Boogie doesn't exist in the Idol universe. And after last week's live performance, you can bet that Fantasia isn't going to be asked back to sing anytime soon. But that's what happens when you come on and GET TOO AWESOME and show up the finalists.

Seacrest compares the two Davids and their origins. Little David is from Utah, represented on-screen by a booby-shaped mountain range. Big David is from Kansas City, represented on-screen by a big, ejaculating fountain.

Not making that up.

The spiel continues and Clive Davis and Andrew Lloyd Webber are reintroduced into the picture. Because the audience can't get enough of either of those guys. I personally thrill to each moment their kissable faces dance across my television screen. Then we're back to Jim Lampley, who says, "Winning is about being able to trust your instincts." Seriously, that's some Dalai Lama shit right there, wisdom straight from the mouth of a nonunion screenwriter and handed to a talking head who's been there, sorta kinda. And you just had it presented to you in your living room. Hope you appreciate it. Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.

Seacrest introduces the Davids to the audience, live and in person, in front of a huge, floaty Coca-Cola screen the color of Fantasia's new hair. Suddenly the Coca-Cola logo appears in the bottom left-hand side of my TV screen. Now I want a Coke. But not that high-fructose corn syrup kind. I want one of those Mexican ones that they make with actual sugar. Had one of those lately? They fuckin' BITE going down. There may still be actual cocaine in those like back in the olden times. Wild guess, there. Don't come suing me, Coca-Cola. I love and am addicted to your product. It keeps me all gay inside. That and this show.

More stalling. Seacrest has to ask them how they feel. Cook defers to the audience, "How do you feel?" he asks the crowd, all Framptonish. Archuleta whispers something about dreams, naturally. Seacrest asks for advice from the judges. Randy and Paula say a lot of not much. Simon says, "You've got to have a desire to win and you've got to hate your opponent." I like how he probably truly means that.

First round of songs has been chosen by Clive Davis. Clip of him talking to the Davids while Narnia battle music plays in the background. For Cook he's chosen U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and that's pretty appropriate because Cook's debt to Bono and all the pompous Bono-wannabes who've come after Bono is a mammoth, unpayable one. You can draw a direct line from him to Stone Temple Pilots to Daughtry-crush Live to Collective Soul to Cook favorites Our Lady Peace and Switchfoot to Nickelback to Creed to Seven Mary Three to even more humiliatingly lame bands like Vertical Horizon and 3 Doors Down. This is the genre that Cook will enter after this week. May he find a consistent income base there for as long as it takes him to realize that it all sucks.

So tonight I should mention that I'm watching the show with the husband/partner/whatever (who, thanks to the California supreme court, will soon become my legal husband for as long as it takes for the wacko asshole nutcases on the religious right to come up with some new law making it a crime for me to breathe the same air they do), housemate Xtreem Aaron, and his current best friend/ex-boyfriend, Gary.

"I will only like this if The Edge comes up through a trap door," says Gary, as Cook begins his earnest replica. Too many epaulets on his jacket for me. I don't trust a word he sings. Randy says that they're "boys at this point, right?" Yes, Randy, you're boys with David Cook now. You can go off and krump somewhere together. Paula goes blahblahblah. Simon calls it "phenomenal."

"Thank you," says Cook, and he looks up at the rafters with a weird expression. I can't read if it's self-satisfaction or incredulity. Either one, it's still boring. Xtreem Aaron, who works at a big record store here in Los Angeles, offers, "Phil Stacey was in our clearance bin a week after his CD came out."

Next up, wasting no more time, is Archuleta singing Clive Davis's choice for him, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," a song evocative of Elton John and George Michael, two of the biggest gays on the planet. Message: Don't be surprised someday when this boy starts to get all "I don't discuss my private life" in interviews.

After the song, Archuleta's normal exhausted, stressed, verge-of-tears humility takes a serious turn for the worse. Lip-licking turns to "gosh" turns to major breakdown scare. You can see the tears well up and the hyperventilating exceed its normal parameters. I am actually genuinely worried that the emotional meltdown is beginning here and now. The child is a walking exposed nerve. Vomiting begins in 3...2...1...

Commercial time: All that matters is the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which is about a Chihuahua that speaks like Carlos Mencia crossed with the Taco Bell dog. That's going to be awesome. I won't hesitate to buy a ticket to that. And tickets to movies in Los Angeles cost like 14 bucks. That's how committed I am to seeing it. That and Space Chimps.

The second song for each is a new one from, I guess, the Idol songwriting contest. They have to be, with titles like "Dream Big" and "In This Moment." There's no filter in this contest, obviously. Of any sort. At all. The guys are shown in tightly edited little sound-bite moments about "going for it" and "gonna give it my best shot" and other, embarrassing, sports-related platitudes. This is to help take your mind off the fact that all you're really watching right now is four men standing around a piano next to a tall green plant. There could be a hockey brawl taking place on top of that piano and it would still feel overflowing with gay. Then there's more of Jim Lampley saying, "Be brave! A faint heart never won the day!" followed swiftly by a little more coaching from Andrew Lloyd Webber, who says, "Battles aren't won by being a coward."

This is a fact. They're won by adding the electric drum to "Phantom of The Opera."

Cook sings his upbeat, "Life is A Highway"-ish "Dream Big" song. Gary on the couch begins yelling his own freshly invented lyrics. OK, just one invented new lyric. He shouts it in the David Cook half-growled style: "Dreams! They can change your life! When you're onstage!"

And then he just yells, "Dreams! Dreams! Dreams!" over and over. But then again, so does Cook. It's a song that eventually gets used to sell Ford Trucks, I'm predicting. Mark my words on that. It's quickly followed by Archuleta's "In This Moment," which prompts more couch lyric-creation, this time from everyone. Here is our combined song:

"In this moment, which is occurring right now,

In this moment you have a ship's anchor stenciled onto your coat, and that's odd.

Hello sailor, here is your moment of dreams.

We're dreaming of moments and taking a moment to dream.

Oh, look here's the Beverly Hills Chihuahua who's come to steal your moment and jour seester."

In the middle of the song, some girl down front reaches her hands up in front of the camera to reveal the most disgusting, squared-off set of grody fingernails I've ever seen on television. Then the song's over. Quick, camera crew, WHAT DOES CONSTANTINE THINK ABOUT THIS PERFORMANCE? HE'S NODDING HIS HEAD IN APPROVAL AND MUGGING? EXCELLENT! Randy begins the judging with more of his incessant "sing the phone book" commentary. Does Randy have some under-the-table deal with phone books? Is he dating a woman named Phone Book? Is this their secret code for "Tonight, darling, we make sweet love to my collection of Peabo Bryson CDs?" It doesn't matter, really. After this week I don't have to listen to the man speak for the next seven months. It'll be a nice long rest. Paula says that "it doesn't matter what song you're singing."

"That's because it all sounds like parrots to her," says the husband/partner/whatever.

Commercial time: Oh, great, there's a new Coldplay album coming soon. I fucking hate those gaywads. I mean, they're not gay in the for-real, awesome, make-out-with-guys way or anything. But their music is a fag. You know what I mean.

Commercials over, we begin "Round 3" and Prince is here. He's chosen "Scarlet Pussy" for Cook and "Irresistible Bitch" for Archuleta. And I'm lying. It's just more blahblahblah with Andy L-Web telling Cook that "you must make it a cry of passion." So now Cook's going to bust out the Collective Soul. Because who doesn't love Collective Soul? And Archuleta's chosen "Imagine." Because who doesn't love the philosophically neutered version of that song?

Cook goes first. Dang, this song is like eating a room-temperature skinless chicken breast with no salt. Naturally, it inspires tears in its performer. He's so genuinely moved by himself. The Boogie, somewhere tonight, is performing for a lot of really shit-faced people and he's probably belching "C is For Cookie" over a generic bar-band funk workout while simultaneously mooning the audience. And those drunkards are having way more fun than I just did listening to Cook. I know this in my heart. Randy says, "One of the cool things about you is..."

"Nothing," says Xtreem Aaron. And that settles that. Oh, wait, sorry, no it doesn't, because Paula has to go off and tell him that he's "standing in [his] truth."


And then Simon makes it fun by bashing him and making Cook give his annoyed-by-them-what-can't-get-with-my-innate-rock-integrity face, all big in close-up.

Finally, we get Archuleta, performing a late-term abortion on "Imagine." No, no, he sings it prettily enough, in the way that this show allows, which is the way of trafficking in technically proficient, oversung, soulless, gutted versions of songs I didn't realize I could learn to dislike. But I want to say it again: THIS IS A SONG THAT EXPLICITLY AFFIRMS THAT THE WORLD WOULD BE A WAY BETTER PLACE WITHOUT RELIGION. You can put hot pink Lisa Frank kitten stickers over those "offensive" words all day and all it does is remind everyone that you are not singing them. He's performing a protest song about something he's in favor of. What happens when he records a full-length version for his debut CD? Will the Church of Latter-day Saints' Pop Star Advisory Board be called in to vet the lyrics?

Onward to the Finale. The last chopping. The last screwing.

"What happens when a nation is gripped by the closest competition it has ever seen?" begins Seacrest in voice-over as the Davids, dressed in matching white, stand facing each other under a spotlight. I actually know the answer to that question: The Supreme Court steps in and decides that the loser of the popular vote is the winner.

Seacrest continues with something about how the show has reached "its critical mass."


Oh, look, there's Holly Robinson Peete in the audience. And Constantine, standing right behind her, his cam-detecting sensors giving him just enough of an electric stimulus to pose for the shot, even though it's meant to be of her.

Seacrest talks about the votes. 97.5 million votes came in.

Says them.

One David received 56% of the vote, the other got 44%.

"Even Ruben got some," says Seacrest, making a ha-ha. Cut to poor Ruben, who's like, "What? That's my name! Ruben is me! Do I sing 'Celebrate Me Home' now? Tell me about the rabbits again, George!"

So without mentors and without elimination drama to fill time and about 115 minutes of waiting around stretching out between now and knowing which one of them made you proud, we bring you Mikalah Gordon (season 4) and Matt Rogers (season... 3? Not that it matters. He hosts that cable show Really Big Things. And he's a really big thing) with the Davids' hometown crowds. People scream and yell and scream and yell some more. Mikalah and Matt scream and yell and scream some more.

Then begin the performances. That's mostly all the next couple of hours is, so here's how they go down:

Performance 1: Top 12 -- "Get Ready"

Everyone's in white. There are a couple dozen dancers, also in white, hurling themselves all over the stage. Brooke White is a beaming, enthusiastic, horrible dancer. Amanda Overmyer can't believe she signed a contract that forces her to do this. Cut to Janice Dickinson, who could teach Constantine some lessons about playing to the camera without tongue-kissing it with your eyes.

Performance 2: The Davids -- "Hero"

The SPIDERMAN SONG! EWW!!! Are they playing a trick on us?

Then it's time to shill for that new Mike Myers movie where he insults Hinduism. The less said about it the better, honestly. But it's an extended bit with the Davids and it makes the movie look even less funny than the trailer I've been seeing manages to do. The bit goes on for a really long time. Like a really, really long time.

Performance 3: Syesha and Seal -- "Waiting for You"

What's great about Syesha in this performance, besides her really foxy dress, is that she is fully there, not intimidated by Mr. Klum at all. She truly believes she deserves to be singing onstage with Seal. Cut to Simon, giving one or both of them one of his icky winks. Does he know he does that? He has to know by this point, right?

Performance 4: Jason Castro -- "Hallelujah"

Leonard Cohen is in some strip club right now stuffing hundreds into any g-string that passes by. Cut to Melinda Doolittle and Teri Hatcher being moved.

Performance 5: The Top 6 women and Donna Summer -- "She Works Hard for the Money/Hot Stuff/Stamp Your Feet/Last Dance"

This may well be my favorite performance of the night, thanks to Amanda Overmyer. It all starts with the six ladies in red outfits walk-dancing down the stairs to "She Works Hard for the Money," all pumping fists and new-wave jamming motions. But the split between Carly's intense enthusiasm for being back onstage singing something big and lusty and Amanda's dead-eyed, get-me-out-of-here demeanor is something I can't rewind on TiVo enough times. Carly is working hard for the money; Amanda is giving a squeezer to some guy she hates.

Then comes a bit where Ramiele and Carly, both giving off wheelbarrows full of sass, flank Brooke, whose awkward back-and-forth lumbering turns her into the most innocent and petite dancing bear of the night. Ramiele, especially, seems to have taken neck-snapping lessons from Danny Noriega. They all merge back toward the center of the stage and Amanda splits off from the group and sullenly, dutifully walks to the edge of it, suggesting nothing so much as that walk you do to the boss's office when he yells, "Overmyer! Get in here!" Once on the edge of the stage, she growls the first verse of "Hot Stuff" before Carly jumps in the middle for the chorus. Now, I know that I've had what some people might consider an irrational devotion to Carly this season. But can you deny that I'm right when you watch her practically leap at the chance to show what she can do in this song? I think you can't. She all but shoves the other women out of her way so she can strut out to front and center and lay down some wailing. Ramiele comes in behind her, totally off-key but full of the kind of spunk you get from her when she's not singing, like, "That's right, bitches, I'm off-key and fuck you. Like I said, I'M TALL INSIDE!"

Then out comes Donna Summer to join the girls in singing her new single, "Stamp Your Feet." Two guys hold her hands and lead her down the stairs, which is a smart move on her part. Donna's not 25 anymore. Hips get broken all the time in less treacherous situations than this. She's still got her voice. That makes me happy. Cut to the side of the stage, where the dancers are jumping around. Seacrest is sitting on the side stairs next to them bobbing his head. What's he doing there? NOW HE'S BREAKDANCING WITH THEM, tossing himself around on his back and head.

Nice way to pull focus from Donna Summer, dickhead.

And you can tell it distracts her because that song just sort of fizzles out and stops right then, segueing into "Last Dance," the greatest Academy Award-winning Best Song from the worst movie ever. Donna starts the song and hands the upper-register stuff over to Syesha, and by "hands" I mean she literally just tosses her sparkly microphone into a surprised Syesha's hands. And you know what? Not only is it a spontaneous, sweet gesture, but it seems to give Syesha a power even she didn't know she had until right now. And this isn't a girl who's low on self-esteem. For about 10 seconds Syesha is singing in a truly unself-conscious, joyful way that makes me not forget what she's doing three seconds after she finishes.

During this bit the rest of the women have made their way out into the audience. But now it's time to come back onto the stage. And thank you camera guys, because you know that I need you by Amanda Overmyer, beside Amanda Overmyer, to guide Amanda Overmyer, because when she's bad she's so so sooooooo bad, annoyed, and grumpy. Big close up of her gotta-make-the-doughnuts face as she winds her way through the crowd, past a man in a suit. Thought bubble above her head = "Dude, you wanna get the fuck outta my WAY?" How she has time to both sing and purse her lips in a defiant show of disgruntled you-can't-fire-me-because-I-quit disgust is very mysterious to me. She's a multitasker. I'm pretty happy for her that she doesn't have to go on tour. Can you imagine the e-mails home?

"Dear Mom and Dad, I'm gonna put that horsey-girl and the short one out of my misery. The nanny too. Please FedEx Within a Budding Grove, some unfiltered Camels, and my shotgun. I got business to tend to.

Love, A"

The camera points to Fantasia and a man wearing sunglasses. The red hair is combed out into a bob. She looks amazing, thinking, I coulda helped out with that shit right there.

Commercial: You can amuse Carrie Underwood for hours with little doggy-themed games on her miniature pink Nintendo whatever-it-is. Also, there's another Incredible Hulk movie coming out. Did we ask for that? No? Someone did, right? They must have.

Performance 6: Carly and the Aussie, whose name I've been completely blanking on for weeks now. "Michael Johns," says the husband/partner/whatever. "Firsty-firsty."

"Thank you," I say. "It's not like I hate him. I just forget him when he's not around."

So they're going to duet on "The Letter." Good, this show can't have enough Alex Chilton on it. That's what I think.

And it's a crappy Vegas-style arrangement of the song, but IT'S CARLY AND SHE'S SINGING AND THIS IS NEVER A BAD THING. Best of all, the two of them have... sex... going on between them. I mean, they're both married to other people, obviously, but there's a cracklingness happening while they harmonize that the show never exploited until this moment. Suddenly I feel like I'm watching two grown-ups who know what they're doing and are happy about it and who give you the impression that if they weren't otherwise engaged that this number would end with some clothes on the floor.

Cut to Seven of Nine in the audience. She's happy to be here.

So is Jimmy Kimmel, who's back onstage to insult the show. He takes a T-ball swipe at Sanjaya, who's in the audience and who cracks up. Because what else is Sanjaya going to do? He bashes Seacrest and his "Lee Press-on Nails," and then uses that insult as a window of opportunity to goof on Chris Sligh. He mocks Paula's ability to praise bullshit, calls Simon Cowell's father "Satan," and then he's done.

Performance 7: The guys and Bryan Adams -- "Summer of 69/Heaven/some other Bryan Adams song I've never heard before/Somebody"

I hate Bryan Adams songs. All of them. I am incapable of figuring out whether or not this medley is competently performed. And has Bryan Adams always been this tiny and skinny? He's either on crystal meth or he's become a vegan. Both of those things can make you lose important cuteness-enhancing body fat, but I'm guessing it's a dietary situation.

Next is an ad for the American Idol Experience theme park attraction coming soon to Disney World in Florida. Jordin Sparks stands on a terrace on Cinderella's castle to tell you all about it. I want leftover Idol castoffs to work at this thing. It's not like there aren't plenty of them. Ejay could just put in for a transfer, I bet. Brenna Gethers would jump at this opportunity. They could all have their own Road Rules Challenge show at this point.

Performance 8: David Cook & ZZ Top -- "Sharp Dressed Man"

Earlier this week I was watching the season premiere of my favorite animated sitcom, Metalocalypse. On it, the band Dethklok gets body doubles to go out and make personal appearances for them, lest anyone try to assassinate the actual band members. They get all attached to their doubles, wanting to pal around and go to Denny's-style restaurants. Then the doubles are maimed and disfigured and the band has to kill them. Anyway, I think that's what's going on with ZZ Top tonight. That could be Felicity Huffman under that beard, sunglasses, and hat combo and no one would ever know the difference. Fantasia's out in the audience bopping her head, thinking, I could help fix this too!

Performance 9: Graham Nash and Brooke White -- "Teach Your Children"

Because she used to be a nanny, get it? Two thirds of the way through the song, she gets glitchy and probably wonders if she can stop and get a do-over.

Commercial: It's for Guitar Hero with Cook doing the Risky Business "Old Time Rock and Roll" number, in his underwear. But you can't see his underwear. Just the shirt. It's... I don't know... a funny gimmick. I guess I'd rather see him do a commercial for Guitar Hero than for Ford or Neutrogena or hair product or whatever.

Performance 10: The Jonas Brothers -- "S.O.S."

Hey, guys, I've got Hanson on the phone here and they'd like to tell you a few things, mostly about the unintended consequences of letting Gus Van Sant direct your videos.

Now it's time for a clip reel of loser auditions from early in the season. Only seven more months until you get to see lots more of these.

1. The high-pitched guy with the lisp

2. Alexis "I'm going for actressing" Cohen

3. The "Let mah pipple goooooohhhhhhh" guy

4. The silver-caped and white-hatted "I Am Your Brother" guy, the one who now has an agent. Then they bring out that guy. The USC marching band and cheerleading squad march down the aisles of the Nokia to join him. Paula gets up onstage to dance with him. Randy too. They cut to commercial because that's the only way you can get him to stop singing. William Hung is looking into calling in a hit on this dude.

Performance 11: One Republic with Archuleta -- "Apologize"

"Who's this?" asks the husband/partner/whatever.

"One Republic," I say.

"Who's that?"

"These guys."

"Is this song a hit?"


"It sucks."


Performance 12: Jordin Sparks -- "One Step At a Time"

This must be her new single. She begins cheering about the Davids in the middle of the song when she should really be concentrating on her pitch issues. Camera cuts to Blake Lewis singing along.

Performance 13: A video of an early 1970s version of Gladys Knight, digitally fused with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. as her fake Pips. The funniest bit is when Jack Black has to hike up his pants. I always have to do that too.

Performance 14: Carrie Underwood -- "Last Name."

This song is about anonymous sex. Couple of weeks ago when I was home in Texas visiting my mom I heard it for the first time on the country station. My first thought: Who is this slut?

Second thought: This has to be Gretchen Wilson.

Then the announcer explained that it was Carrie Underwood, which I believed was a mistake. But now here she is singing it. So it was her on the radio. I guess it's cute when straight people sing about getting wasted and banging total strangers. She's got on this thing that's attaching her wrists from behind, a huge white swath of fabric that's not attached to anything else on the outfit. So it's kind of like the billowiest, least effective bondage suit ever.

Commercial: Archuleta for Guitar Hero. Same as before, the Risky Business business. Rated T for Teen.

Which means he's probably not yet allowed to play it. He's wearing white shorts instead of the unseen tighty-whiteys that you imagined on Cook. Anything less than that would be kind of, you know, "Inside Your Heaven." And that would be wrong.

Performance 15: The top 12 and George Michael -- "Faith/Father Figure/Freedom 90"

There's very little camera time for Amanda during this number, so I'm a little underwhelmed. Gay stripper, however, is all up in every shot. "He has to maximize his opportunities," says Xtreem Aaron. "This is his last shot at being on national television. At least until his Cops airs."

I perk up when they sing "Freedom" because (a) it's an awesome song and (b) it's about being devoured and shat out by the corporate music industry with lyrics like "I was every schoolgirl's pride and joy, I guess it was enough for me" and "I don't belong to you and you don't belong to me." And everyone's singing it like it's this big freedom anthem, skipping the lyrics about being turned into a sex product and skillfully avoiding all darker implications. But the fact remains that these guys are what this song is about.

Then George Michael comes out. "Hello, Nokia Theater!" He shouts. "I have sex in public restrooms while high on drugs! What are you going to do about it?!"

Actually, he sings "Praying for Time." And he's pretty subdued. Says he has a cold when he's done. Look, no excuses, George Michael. If you can go rooting around in loos with builders and bus drivers all night long, then you can sing for two minutes and not sound like you've got the sniffles. Also, what I love about "Praying for Time" is how the lyrics indict the entire Western world for its greed, stupidity, hypocrisy, and television shows and it's sung by the guy who bought Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted human skull. Of course, if I had a bazillion dollars to throw around, I probably would too. I never said I wasn't conflicted about the stuff I like.

And now let's get this over with.

I mean, let's get a new American Idol!!!!!!!!!

Final thoughts of the year from the judges:

Randy: "Yammer yammer dude blah blah both winners baby yeah."

Paula: "I'm honored and proud to be sitting here you two are truly amazing it's odd that it's called the finale when it's anything but a final it's the beginning of the start of the destinies of your career I'm so proud and just remember sometimes we think it's all about winning but it's the things sometimes that we lose that reminds us of how truly special we are as people." (note to readers: that was an exact transcript)

Simon: Apologizes to Cook for harshing on him the night before with, "I think I was verging on disrespectful with you and I don't think you deserve that."

And it's Cook.

How did this happen after Archuleta got all the love from the judges the night before? I think it happened because the producers didn't want another Daughtry to slip through the cracks. They wanted to be able to take credit for the next one. So they kept stacking the deck against Little D. As obvious as this show can be, it also works in subtle ways, influencing how you think about the contestants. It's becoming a "thing" that the cute kids who sing pretty ballads don't get the cred or the sales that the show wants to brag about. It's been affecting the ratings. So Seacrest's constant referencing of Archuleta's nerves and the whole dad-banned-from-backstage thing doesn't make grown-up thinking people respond positively to Little D. It makes them feel sorry for and worry about him, and they think, Is this kid even enjoying himself? and then they back away from what they perceive to be, suddenly, an unhappy story instead of one they can get behind and root for.

They drummed up support for Cook on Tuesday night by bagging on him so hard. In fact, if the votes do count anymore, then that criticism just galvanized those fans and made them redouble their efforts to vote for him. I know a middle-aged man who speed-dialed like a hundred times. No, it wasn't anyone in my house.

The camera cuts to Papachuleta, who's putting on a good game face but is probably secretly trying to figure out how to demand a recount. Paula hugs Simon. Then Cook does something that sort of stops me in my hate-tracks. He calls out to Archuleta and gets the audience to applaud the boy.

Seriously, how gallant can you be? Here's how much: Then he cries. His family cries. The mom comes up onstage. The brother comes up onstage. They're all crying. That brother will always have a job carrying DC's luggage. Camryn Manheim is going apeshit in the audience.

Then he sings his dumb Winner Song, "Time of My Life," which is -- I shit you not -- about dreams, believing, magic rainbows, finding your wings and flying and coming alive. Those words ARE in that song. I just heard him say them.

And to raise the gallantry stakes, he motions for all of the Top 11 to join him on the platform in front of the stage. It's genuinely sweet and moving.

DAMN YOU, DAVID COOK. I WANT TO THINK YOU'RE LAME AND AN ASSHOLE AND NOW I HAVE TO JUST SETTLE FOR YOU BEING LAME. You've ruined my week by upsetting my carefully laid opinions about you. I hope you're happy now.

OK time for Hellhammer. See y'all when Project Runway starts up in July. Until then this is my now.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Dave White