American Idol: Season 7 - Rotten Tomatoes

American Idol: Season 7 (2008)

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The battle of the Davids (hard-rockin' Cook vs. teen heartthrob Archuleta) was the highlight of a scandal-ridden Season 7. The contestants in 2008 spanned the usual array of styles. Among them: sweet, folksy Brooke White, country girl Kristy Lee Cook, tattooed Irish-born rocker Carly Smithson, soulful Australian Michael Johns and laid-back, dreadlocked Jason Castro. But Cook and Archuleta stole the spotlight early on. In the first year contestants were allowed to play musical instruments, both men showcased their abilities, with Cook on guitar and Archuleta on piano. Cook stood out with his song choices and the renditions he chose on tunes such as "Billie Jean" and "Eleanor Rigby." But the boyish grin and consistently strong vocals of 17-year-old Archuleta had his popularity skyrocketing, especially with younger viewers. In fact, neither performer ever landed in the dreaded "bottom three," which made for a nail-biting finale. Archuleta was the media favorite, but Cook garnered 12 million more votes from viewers. The theme weeks in Season 7 challenged the vocalists to perform songs from the 1980s, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey and the Lennon-McCartney catalog. But they tackled even bigger obstacles with the PR scandals that erupted: from one contestant's lap-dancer past to inappropriate Internet photos and videos, and a controlling stage dad, the "Idol" spin doctors stayed hard at work. Even the judges weren't safe, as questions swirled around Paula Abdul's scattered behavior and her critique of two songs performed by Castro after he only sang one.

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