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'American Idol' daily round-up: The countdown begins

November 7, 2008 |  6:49 am


Sixty-eight days to Season Eight. The Fox Network has announced that the rough beast slouching across the desert's hour will come at last on Jan. 13, when "American Idol" returns to the airwaves.

And as the clocks tick ever closer to the fateful day, around the nation at this very moment, 500 young talents are packing their bags and taking in final hours of vocal rest as they prepare to head to Hollywood Week; the top secret conclave gathers under security worthy of a president-elect somewhere in Los Angeles next week. And somewhere, out in America, the singer who will take the crown from David Cook next May is nervously wondering if next week will spell the end of his or her dreams ... or the prelude to months of tension beyond imagination.

As they prepare, last season's two finalists stand on the brink of their greatest test yet; on Tuesday, David Archuleta's debut album hits the stores, followed the next Monday by champion Cook's record.  Early polling on the absentee votes suggests a lopsided victory may be ahead for runner-up Archuleta, whose first single from the album ("Crush") has sold over 800,000 downloads, a 4-to-1 margin over Cook's "Light On," which stands in the 200,000 range.

How is David the Younger spending his days before he takes the first step into the marketplace alone?  Taking in a Jason Mraz concert with his good friend Jason Castro.  Castro tells the story in this charming seaside video blog entry.

Meanwhile, in what this critic takes as a clear sign of the nation's misguided priorities, it is official that the American people cast more votes in the presidential election than they did in the Season Seven finale; the Obama-versus-McCain slapdown outpolling the Cook-versus-Archuleta battle 133 million to 97.5 million. Where are your heads, American people?  A president lasts at most eight years, but a pop star is forever.

UPDATE: As several word nerds have noted in the comment section, the battle of the singles is not quite fair as "Crush" came on the market many weeks ago, while "Light On" was just released. 

--RIchard Rushfield

Photo: David Archuleta. Credit: Fox