Thrilling tour finale performance of “Angels” in Tulsa. Wow, David. Just wow.
Update: Thanks to ronaldsf for the new video mix.

Whoever thought David was inarticulate hasn’t been paying attention. Bittersweet is certainly the word, even for us.

Keeping in mind the fact that they do get their pound of flesh first, last, and always, I do have to credit the whole Idol machine for at least one thing when it comes to our boy. David does not strike me as the kind of artist who would have had the gumption, the temerity–perhaps even the ambition–to have carved out on his own anything like the kind of career he is likely to have now. Sure, any artist is going to get a major boost of an opportunity from Idol, but many of those artists might have also found ways on their own, eventually, to make their mark. I’m not so sure about David. I almost hate to say it, but someone like David may have needed American Idol’s Borg-like indoctrinations more than most. There’s a reason why he grew up on it, why he was destined for it.

More, even, than for a ready-made public, David needed Idol for himself. I think it might have been Justin Guarini who said that American Idol is like a hyper-intensive master class of all things entertainment. Like the Hollywood studio system of old, the immersion into everything from production to press to legal that the top ten contestants experience helps them learn in the span of a year what it takes most other performers five or ten years to absorb–and that’s if they pursue it with zeal and have a lot of luck. David is a fast learner (the improvement in just his public demeanor from a year ago is unmistakable), but he is not a spotlight-seeker. I wonder if he would have insinuated himself into situations that offered anywhere near the analogous experiences he’s had as a result of this mixed-blessing of a show.

On the one hand, I couldn’t be happier to see him leaving AI behind (gosh, I just dread seeing his clips–or, God forbid, him–showing up on cheap syndications of American Idol Rewind). On the other hand, David may never again be in a position to be so available to his public and so protected and supported by his peers at the same time. He’ll be on his own, now.

Well, maybe not entirely. He’s got us.