While you could say that "American Idol" this week featured the top 10 boys on Tuesday night and top 10 girls on Wednesday, you could also say that 19 of them weren't really featured at all. Because, you see, the entire competition seems to — already! — be about only one contender.
I'm talking, of course, about David Archuleta — he of the cherubic face, the beatific presence and the prepubescent perfection. It's not just that he's a talented singer or that he almost seems too likable and innocent to even be surviving high school, let alone overnight fame. It's that he's managed to be elevated onto a pedestal.
The Archuleta love fest began during his taped interview. The "what America doesn't know about me" reveal tends to be fairly boring (something along the lines of "I'm a tomboy," "I race cars" or "I know how to hula dance").
But Archuleta, it turned out, had belted out "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" to the first season "Idol" finalists in a hotel lobby. While this brought on a series of questions — why, how, and was he born to be on this show or what — it also proved that people have been falling in love with the boy for years.
And this trend shows no sign of abating. You practically needed earplugs to drown out the sounds of adolescent shrieks in the auditorium when he took the stage. You might have thought, as a matter of fact, that the audience believed John Lennon had been brought back to entertain them, rather than a 17-year-old who was simply doing an excellent rendition of "Imagine."
And the comments from the judges! When phrases like "destined to be a superstar" and "born to do this" are being bandied about, the expectations are getting pretty high. And that's the only thing that worries me about young Archuleta. I mean, where can he go from here? Is he peaking too early? And what, pray tell, happens if he has a bad week?
All the Archuleta love doesn't mean that no one else was good, of course. David Hernandez did an awesome job on "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," somehow managing to inject just the right amount of personality into it.
Chikezie (who's apparently dropped his last name) was also good — despite the fact that he's simply not funny enough to try sparring with Simon (his attempts at giving the Brit a hard time always just end up making him seem slightly bitter).
While I don't think the girls were particularly strong this week, sweet, curly-haired Brooke White sang the hell out of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." The fact that she managed to do that while also playing the guitar made it all the more impressive.
Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay and Alexandrea Lushington suffered from weak song choices this week but overall seem quite promising. Carly Smithson, meanwhile, has a powerful voice (Simon declared her the strongest girl) — but I think she could stand to inject a little of the stage presence that Kristy Lee Cook and Kady Malloy have into her performances.
Then again, maybe it doesn't matter. Because, with the way things are going, if your name isn't David Archuleta, it's looking like it might not even be worth bothering.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.