Two Davids to do battle on "American Idol" finale

Wed May 14, 2008 11:27pm EDT
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A baby-faced high school student likened to an old-fashioned crooner and a scruffy bartender who sings alternative rock music will compete in next week's season finale of U.S. television's "American Idol."

Guitar-playing rocker David Cook, 25, and 17-year-old piano balladeer David Archuleta beat out the final female contestant, Syesha Mercado, 21, after voting was revealed on Wednesday's broadcast of the most popular U.S. television show.

"After 56 million votes, America has decided that the two people going head-to-head in our finale next week are David Archuleta and ... David Cook," the show's host Ryan Seacrest said during the live broadcast, sending Mercado home.

On Tuesday, each contestant had to perform three songs -- one picked by a judge, one chosen by the performer and one selected by the show's producers.

Throughout the seventh season, the two Davids have been favorites among the show's judges and pundits, while Mercado came close to elimination on several occasions.

More than once, judges suggested she was more likely to make it big singing on Broadway than as a pop star. Still, her performances impressed them increasingly in recent weeks until Tuesday, when they said she struggled.

Her rendition of Peggy Lee's "Fever" on Tuesday was drubbed by no nonsense "Idol" judge Simon Cowell as "a lame cabaret performance."

But as she was voted off the hit show on Wednesday Mercado remained gracious, saying to her fans, "I just want to say thank you" before singing on "Idol" for the last time -- performing the Alicia Keys hit "If I Ain't Got You."   Continued...

<p>"American Idol" finalists David Cook (L) and David Archuleta are shown in a combination photo from files taken March 6, 2008 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/fred Prouser/Files</p>