American Idol countdown: Which David is your pick?
By April MacIntyre May 15, 2008, 14:21 GMT
David Cook and David Archuleta - © PRN / PR Photos
The reality talent competition is down to the wire, and suffering in ratings and cache after a season that saw many of the finalists as not true amateurs.
Several had recording contracts and previous professional performing and reality show competition experience under their belts.
So here we are with two distinctly different Davids to choose. Will it be the almost Star Search winner and good Mormon boy from Utah with the domineering dad? Or will it be the one struggling local musician contestant who actually was plucked happenstance from obscurity?
David Cook seemed unlikely in the beginning. He is a native of Blue Springs, Missouri. Cook's music career was fueled by an excellent music program in the Blue Springs school district, and especially at Blue Springs South High School, where a teacher took an interest in his talent and pushed him.
Cook graduated college, and then tried his hand locally to make it in music. He came close with a locally recognized solo independent album he created after college, and his now defunct band "Axium" had a song of theirs got some play in a few ad campaigns, but hardly enough notice to make it a permanent career path. Had it not been for one brother who dragged him along to the Omaha tryouts for "Idol," we wouldn't be discussing him today.
With brother Andrew, David Cook auditioned for American Idol producers in Omaha, Nebraska. His Hollywood week audition was "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.
Cook took advantage of the new allowances on Idol that permit instruments. He played his guitar for his performances of "All Right Now," "Hello," "Day Tripper," "I'm Alive," "Baba O'Riley," and "Dare You to Move," acoustic guitar for "Little Sparrow" and "All I Really Need Is You"."
Cook was the one contestant that consistently changed up and did lesser-known arrangements of popular songs, notably his Chris Cornell tribute of "Billie Jean."
The constant initials that adorn his guitar and sometimes his shirts, "AC" - Cook later explained to TV Guide, "I have two brothers, Adam and Andrew. So, because of superstition, I put their initials on everything growing up." His brother Adam is quite ill fighting cancer, and made a Herculean effort to come to a taping of the show to see his brother perform live.
Along with David Archuleta, this is the first time in AI history that the final two of the show have never been voted to the bottom 3.
The other David is a young prodigy too, with seasoning from a successful stint on "Star Search" and also a strong musical mentoring and education fostered by his own mother.
David Archuleta is from Murray, Utah, where he attends Murray High School. He has been singing since he was old enough to talk practically.
Archuleta caught the performing bug after a theater performance exposure, and the kid began performing as an entertainer at age ten in his first contest for the Utah Talent Competition, which he won.
Archuleta has older musical tastes for a young kid. His father is a musician and has steered David's exposure to power vocalists such as Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Natasha Bedingfield, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and even Stevie Wonder to name a few.
His vocals have soulful timber that belie his age.
Star Search put him on the map, at age 12, Archuleta wound up as the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search and even sang and competed with a 13-year-old Alexandréa Lushington, who also became a "top 20" semi-finalist on American Idol alongside Archuleta.
Archuleta's subsequent success brought him appearances on various chat shows and even CBS' The Early Show, as well as meeting the finalists from American Idol's first season, for whom he performed a song for.
This season has had some controversy with Archuleta's father insinuating himself as coach backstage, to the dismay and ultimately anger of AI producers, who have sanctioned him away from his son until the show ends.
His Hollywood week audition: