'Idol' 's Final 3: Who Owned the Night?

Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

In three rounds, David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado and David Cook battled it out on stage Tuesday on the last performance night before the American Idol finale. Simon Cowell declared David Cook the winner. David Archuleta was a close second, even though he wobbled a bit while singing a Chris Brown song. And sadly, even nice judge Paula Abdul told Syesha Mercado, “I don’t know if it’s going to be good enough to get into the finals of American Idol,” after Mercado’s final song of the night.

First Round: Judges’ ChoicePaula picked Billy Joel‘s “And So It Goes” for David A. He seemed completely at ease with the song. Randy told him, “The Billy Joel thing works on you.” And Paula said, “I felt you were a storyteller … It was a beautiful performance.”

Randy chose “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys for Syesha. In a glittering gold dress, Syesha shined. Randy said she was “peaking at the right time” and Simon said she looked “gorgeous.”

Simon picked Roberta Flack‘s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for rocker David C. He delivered a slow and controlled performance, building up to a high note at the end, which Randy loved. “That is one of my favorite songs,” Paula told him. “And now you’re the second favorite person who sings it.”

“It was one of your best performances to date,” Simon declared. “Round one goes to Cook and Cowell.”

Second Round: Contestants’ ChoiceA nervous-looking David A. picked Chris Brown‘s “With You,” which started off very awkwardly. Was it the odd moment between him and host Ryan Secrest just before he moved to the stage? Randy didn’t buy the performance when David sang lyrics like, “hey boo” and “hey lil’ mama,” but Paula thought he did a great job. Simon told him: “It was a little bit like Chihuahua trying to be a tiger.”

Syesha chose Peggy Lee‘s “Fever,” partly because she wanted to “work it a little” with a chair. Randy thought she sang “amazingly well” but Paula still wasn’t sure who Syesha was as an artist. Simon’s comments were the harshest: “You will probably regret that decision,” he said. “It sounded like a lame cabaret performance.”

David C. had the “perfect song choice,” according to Randy, when he sang Switchfoot‘s “Dare You to Move.” Paula wanted more and Simon thought the entire round was just “okay.”

Third Round: Producers’ ChoiceProducers handed David A. “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg. Paula said simply, “It was very lovely … I expect nothing more.” Simon thought he sang the song’s “absolutely horrible” lyrics “very well” and declared, “You’ve done enough to get into the finals next week.”

Syesha’s final song was “Hit Me Up” by Gia Farrell from the Happy Feet soundtrack. Simon worried that she didn’t have a defining moment and Paula told her, “I don’t know if it’s going to be good enough to get into the finals.”

David Cook ended the night on a high note with his version the of much-covered “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Paula said she’d see him in the finals and Simon declared him the night’s winner.

Tell us: Which performance was the best of the night? Who did the best overall? And who will go home?Ray Mickshaw/FOX

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