If it were up to the judges, at this point we could surely declare David Archuleta the winner of "American Idol."
I mean, we're at Top 4 time and he's been delivering strong performance after strong performance and, in the process, racking up nothing but praise from our triumvirate. The night that he forgot his lyrics and made us briefly consider the fact that he may not be the Second Coming? Ancient history, my friends.
And if we could take America's pulse by observing those in the "Idol" audience, I think we could also safely guarantee Archuleta the top spot. The shrieking gals barely simmer down enough for the boy to sing.
So if it's virtually a lockdown, then all of the excitement's over, right? Not so fast. Because resident rocker David Cook is also clearly the recipient of a whole lot of teenage ardor. And he offers something that the other David does not: sex appeal.
Let's face it. Unless you're under 12 or in serious need of therapy, you don't have a "thing" for David Archuleta. You can find him unspeakably adorable, mind-bogglingly sweet and precious enough to be wrapped up in a bow. But he's a kid and every time he talks, he hammers this point home.
I don't fault him for this. He's far more poised than I probably was at his age. But, as Ryan keeps reminding us, he seems to be quaking with fear whenever he speaks. Amazingly, of course, he loses all golly-gee awkwardness when he's performing.
Still, even more important than asking if he'll win is wondering if he can even handle winning. Could Archuleta survive some of the post-Idol vitriol that, say, Clay Aiken endured? Dear God, what if his future album tanks?
I'm not sure I'd be able to sleep at night thinking of the stress overtaking this little cherub if he were callously tossed from "Idol" arms into the not-always-kind real world. (If people think Simon's mean, they should compare him to the increasingly bitter American public.)
Out of the two, Archuleta seemed to have the better night on Tuesday, though I wasn't as blown away by his "Love Me Tender" as our judges. David Cook, meanwhile, was outstanding on "Baba O'Riley" but quite blah on "Hungry Like the Wolf" (an additional problem with his rendition of the Duran Duran song is that he made a big deal about how he was "standing the song on its head" only to make it sound just like, um, Duran Duran).
And what of the non-Davids? Well, I think that Syesha was resplendent on "Proud Mary" (though I could have done without hearing about her pep-talk-to-herself-in-the-mirror business), but I'm horrified to admit that I agreed with Randy and not Simon about her version of "A Change Is Gonna Come." (I'm sorry, but I was bored.)
Also, if I'm not mistaken, she compared her making it to the "Idol" Top 4 to the civil rights movement not once but two separate times, which was two times too many for me.
Of course, there's also Jason Castro — if he can survive the week. While he wasn't as horrific as Simon claimed ("Mr. Tambourine Man," minus the part where he forgot the lyrics, wasn't bad), the guy doesn't seem to be in the same league as his competitors anymore. Yet those screaming teens still love him and, after Simon sounded his death knell, may be all the more determined to let their fingers do the dialing.
Teenage girls couldn't save R&B sensation Mario over on "Dancing with the Stars" — mainly because they've been too busy watching "Idol" to even know he was on it. The 21-year-old was a class act all the way through, but apparently, he didn't have what it took. Indeed, how could he? After all, if you want to be a winner these days, it's probably best if you're named David.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.