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After 'American Idol,' David Archuleta can still beat David Cook at the Grammys and beyond

May 27, 2008 |  7:25 pm

Sure, David Cook pulled off that jaw dropper over David Archuleta on "American Idol," but David Archuleta can still beat David Cook by winning more showbiz awards in the future and by having a longer career.

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Some people think David Cook has an edge right now because he's more "cool" in that rocker way, but David Archuleta has a secret and maybe more powerful advantage: He's a more romantic figure. Female fans ache for him. Even crazy ole Paula Abdul admitted getting "goosebumps" when he sang those I-gotta-have-you-or-I'm-gonna-die power ballads. In short, there's an extraordinary, passionate connection between David Archuleta and female fans that's obvious to see and I'm not convinced David Cook's got the same thing going on.

David Cook might, but he's dangerously cocky — that could backfire on him. Cook is terrific at stylizing music to give tunes a hip sound, but he doesn't break hearts when he sings. He needs to do that to establish a music career that echoes on.

Consider some of the multiple winners of the Grammy Award for best pop male vocals. These guys are real heart breakers — men not afraid to weep when they sing and mean it: John Mayer, Elton John, Michael Bolton, Justin Timberlake, Frank Sinatra and Jack Jones over the years, to name just a few.

Much has been made about the similarities between Cook and past "American Idol" runner-up Chris Daughtry, who's been nominated for four Grammys. But I'm not sure that they really have that much in common beyond the gravel in their voices. Daughtry gets it. When he croons, he's admitting to a woman how worthless he is and how desperately he needs her love in order to breathe and to find his way back home. The song is more about her and how much he needs her than it is about him. Tough-guy music critics make fun of Daughtry for that, just like they also mock James Blunt and John Mayer for the same, but that's actually why those guys are so successful.

Many male singers have sex appeal and Cook may have more of that than Archuleta. Granted. But Justin Guarini and Blake Lewis had tons and didn't achieve sustained music popularity. That's not what I'm talking about because that is not what makes a successful music artist.

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Hit, surviving male music stars are unabashed, unapologetical romantic singers — they surrender utterly to a song's schmaltzy message. That's how they make an extraordinary connection with fans that endures for years. When sexy dudes are too cool for the room, they flop after brief flashes of stardom.

In his future career, you can see David Archuleta surrendering to extreme romanticism, but I'm not sure Cook's ever going to "get" it. What do you think?

(Photos: Fox TV, Jive Records, Sony)


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