It might just indeed be a battle of the David’s on next week’s “American Idol” finale if Simon Cowell has any sway on the voters.
All three contenders struggled to wow the judges, but it was Syesha Mercado, the lone female left in the competition, who received the worst praise.
Each of the finalists — David Archuleta, David Cook and Syesha — sang three songs — one chosen by the judges, one chosen themselves and one picked by ‘Idol’ producers. Syesha’s choice in round 2, Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” received her lowest marks of the night.
“I just feel like it’s an interesting choice, but I’m not sure it shows me who Syesha is as an artist,” Paula Abdul commented.
“Syesha, I think you will probably regret that decision tomorrow because you had a chance to prove you are a temporary recording artist with your own choice of song,” Simon Cowell critiqued. “Instead you did quite a lame cabaret performance.”
And of the Florida native’s other songs were met with mixed reviews.
In round 1, Randy Jackson had her sing Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” which was praised.
“I thought that would work really well on you, you did an amazing job on it,” Randy said.
But her final performance of the night, “Hit Me Up,” from the movie “Happy Feet,” left Paula disappointed.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to get into the finals of ‘American Idol,’” Paula said.
David Archuleta kicked off his night of competition to raves, singing a song Paula picked — “And So It Goes,” by Billy Joel — which he performed, in part, a capella.
“Paula chose a dope song for you,” Randy enthused. “You can sing anything dude… you are in the zone, you’re in it to win it, baby.”
Archuleta sang “With You” by Chris Brown for round 2, an upbeat song, which had the smiling teenager spontaneously break into an awkward dance while singing about his “boo,” something for which Simon criticized him.
“It was a little bit like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger in so much as it’s not really you. I thought it was all a bit awkward — the dancing,” Simon said.
“I was dancing?” a dumbfounded David responded.
His third performance, a cover of Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer,” also perplexed the British judge.
“I’m not going to criticize you because I think you sang the song very well, however, I thought the song and the lyrics [were] absolutely horrible,” Simon said. “It was so gooey… It’s something you choose for like a 90-year-old and you’re 17-years-old. Having said that I do think you’ve done enough to get into the finals next week.”
But it was rocker David Cook, who Simon said truly, “won the night.”
His first performance, of Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” left “Idol’s” stage manager crying, according to host Ryan Seacrest.
David Cook’s middle round wasn’t as popular — he covered Switchfoot’s “Dare You To Move.”
But his final performance – a Diane Warren classic, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” made famous by Aerosmith, had Paula and Simon raving.
“David, see ya in the finals! That’s what I predict,” Paula said.
“David, one of the great songs of all time and I have to tell you, David Cook wins the night,” Simon said, while Diane herself gave a standing ovation from the crowd.