‘American Idol’ Tracker: Final showdown of the Davids

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And so after a journey none could have foreseen three months ago, it ends before a crowd of 7,000 in downtown Los Angeles and tens of millions more at home.

In the annals of our day, this will certainly be remembered as a historic season –- the crowning of the incarnation of a decade of tween aspirations, or the cutting free of the pop ballads party’s iron grip on the ‘Idol’ throne with the rise of the first rocker champion.


Tuesday night at the Idoldome’s temporary home, the full emotional weight of the journey was felt. Back in the crowd were the entire original 12 reminding us of every painful step. Both of the combatants at moments let their cups runneth over with feeling.

Despite judge Simon Cowell’s quip that what is necessary to win is to hate your opponent, ‘American Idol’ remains, especially as personified by the Davids, society’s last refuge of gentlemanly combat. When the norm on TV’s reality competition starts with hair-pulling and quickly descends from there, to see two warriors with this much at stake as they enter the most important hour of their lives openly brimming over with goodwill for the other is nothing short of miraculous. (And confirmed as quite genuine by all observations of them offstage.)

Whatever the outcome, this truly has been the Good War. What promised to be the most talented cast in ‘Idol’ history has indeed left with its ridiculously high median intact -- not a forgettable, disposable face among the group.

Seeing the mighty fallen, from the great Carly Smithson, both the greatest and the most electrifying performer in the history of ‘American Idol,’ down to Chikezie, Ramiele and David Hernandez, one is reminded of how many moments they gave us this year, and how much sweat, agony and endurance it took for them to give it. Fueling the emotions pouring off the Davids were heavy intimations of near total exhaustion, that it is time this war was ended; that enough blood has been shed, enough of a toll has been paid by those who believed in their voices and their songs enough to risk standing each week alone on the cold empty stage, risking public humiliation and abuse beyond anything any right-minded citizen would ever endure.

And clearly, this journey has changed them. (I will have more on that in my column tomorrow, featuring exclusive material on the Idoldome.) The raw youths of January sat in their seats, hardened veterans of show business’ toughest boot camp.

History has shown that among these 12 who were called forth out of the 100,000, some will journey onward to greatness, while others we may be seeing our last of this evening. So let us salute those who laid down their lives week after week on the fields of song choice and wardrobe, of pitch and poise.

The medieval ballad, ‘Sir Patrick Spens,’ tells of a sailor summoned, on the whim of a king and his nobles, to take on a dangerous mission to sail to Norway in horrendous weather. When informed of his liege’s wishes, Sir Patrick cries out:

O who is this has don this deid,This ill deid don to me,To send me out this time o’ the yeir,To sail upon the se!

But nonetheless, without missing a beat, Sir Patrick accepts the call of duty and says:

Mak hast, mak haste, my mirry men all,Our guid schip sails the morn

By the poem’s end, as Sir Patrick foresaw, his ship has sunk and he lies at the botton of the seas.

Haf owre, haf owre to Aberdour,It’s fiftie fadom deip,And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spens,Wi the Scots lords at his feit.

A thousand years later we tell his tale. And so do we honor those who, knowing the impossible odds against them, accepted the call of duty at the most dangerous time to sail upon the seas.

Note: Please join me for a live chat about all your Idol concerns on Wednesday, at noon PDT, at

-- Richard Rushfield