MTV News "American Idol" expert Jim Cantiello reports:
If you, like me, have watched every frame of this season's "American Idol," your eyeballs have endured 50-plus hours of highs, lows and hell-to-the-no's. After Tuesday night's boxing-metaphor-filled showdown (check out our live blog from last night) the big night is finally here, "Idol" fans! That's right. Break out the champagne, load up the confetti cannons and — if you're Randy Jackson — dust off your military jacket, because it's "Idol" finale time, baby!
Last night, even David Cook admitted that David Archuleta was the better singer. "You know, everybody's got an opinion, and tonight was Archuleta's night," Cook reportedly told Us Weekly. "I have to concede it: The kid came out all three songs and nailed it. But I walk away from this with my head held high." He seems prepared — even ready — to take second place. But according to various online polls today, he was still holding strong.
Tonight, all the weeks of speculation will come to an end, and the decision will be made. Will Archadorable's ballads win the hearts of America, or will it be Cook's rock-out-ability? Will Seacrest make the proceedings seem more important than November's election? And who will the mysterious "special guest" be? We don't know. But we do know that tonight's two-hour results show is sure to be a star-studded WTF-filled epic ender.
Normally you read our "Idol" ramblings the morning after, but this week you're getting it up-to-the-minute! Something this potentially explosive deserves a live blog, dangit, and a live blog is what you shall get!
7:59 p.m - Woo! That was a close call, folks. Just raced to the press room from the red carpet!! Who's excited??????
8:00 p.m. - Tonight's show has apparently reached "critical mass." I'm scared. "This........is the American Idol Season finale!"
8:01 p.m. - Laurie Laughlin alert. I wonder if she's seen her "Summerland" co-star Jesse McCartney in that crazy new sex music video he made.
8:01 p.m. - 97.5 million votes came in? 23 million extra people voted than they were expecting. One David received received 56%, the other 44%. I know I voted for Danny Noriega, so already I'm doubting these statistics...
8:03 p.m. - Mikalah Gordon is on "American Idol" as a Missouri correspondent. Just when you thought it was safe to tune in again ... Oh, and poor Matt Rogers is back with the hometown crowd. What do we think he does the other 364 days of the year?
8:04 p.m. - It's our top 12 (with the So You Think You Can Dancers) all dressed in white. Oh crap. This isn't "Idol Gives Back" again, is it? I'm not prepared to weep about Africa tonight.
8:05 p.m. - I wish the "So You Think You Can Dancers" were always around for these hideous group numbers. In fact, I wish the "So You Think You Can Dancers" lived in my apartment. It would give my daily bowl of Cap'n Crunch a lot more razzle dazzle.
8:07 p.m. - Already I'm relieved. During the opening "Get Ready" song, we got to see Carly! And Michael Johns! And Jason Castro being goofy! Now let's just hope they get another moment to shine tonight, because although it was fun seeing Amanda Overmyer trying to dance again, nobody had a solo in the first song. And as Phil Stacey and Camile Velasco proved, some people sound MUCH better at the finale. (Side note: this is the second Camile Velasco reference in two days. I think I need a vacation.)
8:10 p.m. - David Cook and David Archuleta are singing a Nickelback song together. Dante wrote something about this, didn't he?
8:12 p.m. - David Archuleta smiled at me on the red carpet, and I totally squealed like a girl. Did I mention I need a vacation?
8:13 p.m. - We're only in the second act and "Idol" has already managed to work in an extended commercial for the new movie "Mike Myers Makes Me Want to Kill Somebody." David Archuleta liked the "weird, random sitar music videos." Wait, did Mike Myers just talk about David Archuleta's pubic hair? It's gonna be a long night, friends.
8:17 p.m. - Who wore it best: a never-ending bit on "American Idol" edition. Robin Williams on "Idol Gives Back" or Mike Myers tonight?
8:19 p.m. - Syesha is back singing a Seal song! And ... yes! There's Mr. Klum himself. OMG - did Seal just pull an ArchuFlub and mess up his lyrics? Priceless!
8:20 p.m. - Randy: "It was just a'ight for me. Seal, you seemed a little pitchy to me. But you can sing the phone book! Molten!" [not really]
8:21 p.m. - Joel McHale just got his very own cutaway. I wonder if we'll see that on "The Soup" this weekend.
8:22 p.m. - Okay, so while we're in a commercial break I have to tell you about my rig here. I'm in the basement of the Nokia Theatre with a bunch of reporters who do NOT look nor act like "Idol" fans. We're in the press room and there's a microphone set up at the front of the stage where the special guest stars are going to come and answer questions. I, however, will be the jackass shushing Seal (and all the other rumored guest stars) so I can watch Kristy Lee sing. I don't think I'm going to be very popular tonight.
8:26 p.m. - Jason Castro is singing "Hallelujah." This one's for you, Liz Lemon. And John Norris.
8:26 p.m. - Chills. They added a bunch of strings. I'm about to be the only reporter back here crying. Must ... hold ... back ... tears. Think of something funny, Jim. Oh, Jason just made a funny face. That'll do.
8:27 p.m. - Good for Jason. He got another shot at that final note he botched during the semifinals. But alas, Jeff Buckley could not come out to duet with him.
8:30 p.m. - ACK! After a Ford commercial, and now the two David's own Ford Hybrids. You think Simon Fuller owns 10% of those cars?
8:30 p.m. - The Top 6 Girls are singing Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." Definitely not working hard for the money: Amanda Overmyer.
8:32 p.m. - Donna Summer is performing her new hit. Which sounds exactly like her old hits. That's a good thing, though. I'm glad she didn't pull a Chris Gaines on us. (Speaking of which ... Haley Scarnato told me on the red carpet that she's working with Garth Brooks. I didn't have the nerve to ask, "Oh, are you his assistant or something?")
8:34 p.m. - So Ryan Seacrest thinks he can dance.
8:34 p.m. - Whoever thought it was a good idea to have Donna Summer sing "Last Dance" 33 minutes into a two-hour show deserves to be fired.
8:35 p.m. - Not surprisingly, Paula is dancing. And some old people are dancing in the aisles. This totally feels like one of those PBS concerts.
8:36 p.m. - I know Syesha worked her tail off to get to the top three, but they gave her two extended solos? REALLY?
8:37 p.m. - Commercial break. OMG -- some dude in the press room just shouted "SEAL" to a random tall bald black dude. Awk-ward.
8:40 p.m. - Carly Smithson and Michael Johns are duetting on "The Letter." Seacrest introduced them by acknowledging that they both went before their time. Amen, sister. Apparently America hates foreigners.
8:42 p.m. - Nice job, guys!
8:43 p.m. - HOLY CRAP. For about two seconds, I thought Ryan Seacrest was introducing me to recap the season. But alas, it's Jimmy Kimmel, who after making a popular Sanjaya/valet parking attendant joke, bombed with a "karaoke contest" joke.
8:45 p.m. - There's a very quick-cut montage of Simon's one-word reviews. I wonder if Nigel Lythgoe watches my recaps. Just sayin'.
8:46 p.m. - The top 6 guys are singing a Bryan Adams medley. Can't wait to see old Canadian coot back onstage. You know that's comin', right?
8:47 p.m. - The Davids are singing "Heaven" together. We all know Archuleta can sing the hell out of that song. It's a little eyebrow-raising to hear all 6 guys now singing "... when you're lying there in my arms" to each other. Awesome.
8:49 p.m. - There's Bryan Adams! This season paid him enough royalties to buy Canada. Did you hear? Canada is now called "BryLandia." No wonder he's so happy!
8:50 p.m. - Cue the sparks!
8:51 p.m. - Who else is relieved that this isn't completely blowing this year? I'm glad Nigel Lythgoe got my notes.
8:52 p.m. - It's just hitting me now. What will I do tomorrow with all my free time once "Idol" is over? I'll finally get to not-writing that screenplay.
8:55 p.m. - HA! Jordin is telling me that "Idol" can happen all year long. Sorry, screenplay! I gotsta go to Mickey Town!
8:56 p.m. - David Cook with ZZ Top. "Sharp Dressed Man." Who will Archie duet with?
8:57 p.m. - Who wore it best -- the "I can't believe I'm on this cheesy-ass show" edition: ZZ Top or Amanda Overmyer?
8:59 p.m. - Back with Mikalah Gordon in Kansas City. I bet that this is the first time Kansas City met a Jewish tranny.
9:00 p.m. - David Cook's music teacher "feels good." I love her.
9:00 p.m. - Brooke White is duetting with Not Crosby, Not Stills, or Not Young. "Teach The Children." While B-roll from "Idol Gives Back" plays behind them. They sound pretty good. I smell a Nash & White VH1 Classic-sponsored tour a-brewin'.
9:02 p.m. - Good job, Brooke! I know I ragged on you all season for being completely batsh*t insane, but you really did bring a unique musical essence to the show.
9:04 p.m. - Hey, Paula! Stop typing on my laptop!
9:04 p.m. - I'm ignoring Donna Summer in the press room. But she's wearing sunglasses indoors. I repeat: sunglasses indoors. Who knew she was a high school gym teacher now?
9:07 p.m. - Ryan Seacrest is in the mosh pit. He is really excited about the Jonas Brothers. (Obviously)
9:07 p.m. - Is Jimmy Kimmel playing bass??
9:07 p.m. - Informal poll: who's the dreamiest Jonas Brother? The one with the tiny fro, the one with the medium fro, or the one with the straightened hair?
9:09 p.m. - Those little girls in the mosh pit almost grabbed at the fourth Jonas Brother, "Spike."
9:10 p.m. - It's Pat, some random old lady from the audience
9:10 p.m. - They're replaying Alexis Taylor's audition. Remember the crazy "actressing" girl with the crazy eye makeup? I never really thought she had a bad voice.
9:12 p.m. - The 8 minutes they gave to Renaldo Lapuz's unfunny audition at the beginning of the season wasn't enough, apparently. This turkey's getting another several minutes on the finale. I miss Mike Myers.
9:13 p.m. - Marching bands and cheerleaders are joining Renaldo onstage. I'll just tune him out and pretend I'm listening to Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk."
9:13 p.m. - TUSK!
9:14 p.m. - Paula just got up and danced onstage. Does this mean she's going to tour???
9:17 p.m. - My Facebook status: Jim wishes they brought back Alexis Taylor instead.
9:18 p.m. - OneRepublic is "Apologize"-ing. Nigel Lythgoe should dedicate this song to Jason Castro.
9:19 p.m. - Who will join OneRepublic onstage? It's Archuleta and he looks especially pained. Why so sad, little David?
9:21 p.m. - David A wins "duet of the night." Too bad the OneRepublic guy is pulling a Chris Richardson.
9:22 p.m. - Matt Rogers is in Salt Lake City -- "the biggest party in Utah." The second biggest party in Utah? An 8-year-old's Build-A-Bear birthday celebration at the Murray mall. Now Matt is interviewing the man who spawned Jeff Archuleta. And he looks surprisingly well adjusted.
9:27 p.m. - AHHH! Sorry, guys. Some jackass just pulled my laptop plug out and I lost everything. I've never said so many curse words in my life. But I'm back. And I missed a subpar Jordin Sparks performance.
9:30 p.m. - Only thirty minutes to go. What do we think? Better than last year, but not as good as Season Five. But not much could top the season five finale. I'm not sure that my firstborn's childbirth will top the season five finale. (And no, mom. She's not pregnant.)
9:31 p.m. - Cute little "Tropic Thunder" tie-in happening. 1972 footage of Gladys Knight and her 3 Pips are Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. Thank GOD Downey isn't in blackface for this.
9:34 p.m. - They never know when to end a joke on this show, do they?
9:35 p.m. - Oh, but it's for charity. So now I feel like an a**hole.
9:35 p.m. - Has Carrie Underwood ever missed an "Idol" function?
9:36 p.m. - David Spade: "I liked this song the first time I heard it........when it was called 'Before He Cheats.'"
9:37 p.m. - Paula Abdul, the psychic, just told me that for the "Idol - Season 14" finale, Carrie Underwood will be debuting her latest hell-raising single, "Boy, You Cheated On Me And I'm Mad, Y'all!'
9:38 p.m. - In all honesty, I didn't hear one lyric. It all sounded like twangy shrieks in these crappy headphones. Those last two comments might be way off the mark.
9:40 p.m. - Fun fact: I accidentally said to Mark L. Wahlberg on the red carpet, "It's sort of a thrill to meet you." It completely slipped out. Oops. But he was gracious about it. And then we chatted for several minutes about Ytossi and Taheed from "Temptation Island." Would have been the highlight of my week if Gina Glocksen hadn't pointed at my shirt and smiled. (Shameless self-promotion alert: You'll have to tune into my 60 Second Recap tomorrow morning to see what I'm wearing...)
9:43 p.m. - In just a few minutes we will have a new "American Idol." In Seacrest-speak, "a few" means "at least 15."
9:44 p.m. - OMG OMG OMG OMG. The top 12 are singing "Faith." Either George Michael or Fred Durst are totally going to come out and surprise everyone. That's what we call a win-lose.
9:45 p.m. - Uh oh. Michael Johns is singing "Father Figure." I'm questioning my heterosexuality again.
9:45 p.m. - David Hernandez just sang the line about being naked. I'M DYING. (Oh, and I'm straight again.)
9:46 p.m. - Nigel Lythgoe: "Somebody go to the garage and wake up George. He's on in thirty seconds!"
9:47 p.m. - Chikezie just sang the line about "clothes making the man" in "Freedom." Appropriate, given his orange-suit tantrum week one.
9:48 p.m. - Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. George Michael! He's pulling a Donna Summer and rocking the shades indoors.
9:48 p.m. - Um, there is a lame "sunset over water" background behind George Michael. (Oh, in case you're a hipster, when I say George Michael, I mean the Wham! guy, and not Michael Cera's character from "Arrested Development.")
9:50 p.m. - George Michael is hogging the spotlight. And Paula Abdul is swooning. Can't tell whether she's hypnotized by GM's performance or just the flashing lights.
9:53 p.m. - George Michael hasn't toured America in 18 years? When Seacrest asked, "Where does the tour kick off?" I was hoping GM would say, "Central Park men's room." Alas, it's San Diego. Same difference.
9:55 p.m. - [EXCITED!!!] We're about to have a new "Idol!" [I'M SHAKING!!!]
9:56 P.M. - This is the last commercial break of the season. So let me take a few seconds to say thanks for reading (and watching) my silly little recaps all year. God willing I'll be back for "AI: Eight Is Enough" next January.
9:58 p.m. - The judges are giving their final advice.
9:59 p.m. - Simon Cowell apologized to David Cook for being disrespectful last night. And then he complimented them both for being "triers." (A-hem, Castro.)
10:00 p.m. - RESULTS!!!
10:01 p.m. - DAVID COOK WINS! THE CROWD GOES WILD!! THE PRESS ROOM IS SCREAMING! MY HEART IS RACING. MOMMY!!!!!
10:01 p.m. - David C is weeping! Perhaps the most emotional "Idol" winning reaction ever? Congrats, dude! You'll actually have a career! The word nerd is at a lost for words. (He prepared that, didn't he?)
10:02 p.m. - Egads. We have ANOTHER crappy "Idol" songwriting competition song to suffer through? Buzzkill.
10:03 p.m. - David Cook is singing about a magic rainbow and tasting moments. Remember when I just congratulated him for having a career? I might have to take that back after this performance.
10:04 p.m - Aw, Cook is bringing Archuleta through the audience. That's sweet. Or really mean. I can't tell.
10:05 p.m. - The other top 11 surround David C. David Hernandez is trying to get extra camera time. Classy.
10:06 p.m. - The real winner of "American Idol 7?" David Cook's little brother. How much tail you think that kid's gonna get from being DC's brother??
10:07 p.m. - And scene. Well, that's it. Can we call it an upset? David A turned it out last night but I'm pleasantly surprised that Rocker David took the crown. Now let's see if Clive Davis will let him write his own music. Speaking of which, where was Kelly tonight?
POST SHOW RAMBLINGS - I don't know what else to say, honestly. I'm still a little surprised that Cook pulled it off given the show's past history of rewarding big voices over "artists," but I suppose it's fitting that the season where instruments were introduced ended up rewarding a musician over a singer.
What did you think of the big finale tonight? Did the right David win? Were you also hoping for more Chikezie love tonight? And did Jason Castro's "Hallelujah 2.0" steal the show, or what? Keep hitting me up in the comments below, and make sure to check out my final "Idol in 60 Seconds" recap Thursday morning. Thanks again, guys! It's been a blast!