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Phil McCarten / AP Enlarge
NEW YORK - It'll be David vs. David.
Syesha Mercado was voted off "American Idol" Wednesday night, paving the way for the expected showdown between David Archuleta and David Cook.
Mercado, a 21-year-old actress from Sarasota, Fla., was the last woman standing on the top-rated Fox contest. The big-voiced belter surpassed a more accomplished singer (Carly Smithson), a fan favorite (Brooke White) and a statuesque country crooner (Kristy Lee Cook).
While other contestants floundered, Mercado challenged herself with ambitious song choices like Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." She showed more personality and lots of leg while swiveling her hips in a glittery gold minidress for a rendition of "Proud Mary." She cried when Paula Abdul gave her a standing ovation last week.
Abdul held the sugar on Tuesday's performance show, telling Mercado that she thought her performance of "Hit Me Up" wasn't "good enough to get into the finals."
With Mercado out of the way, "Idol" can now fully hype the David vs. David matchup.
There's Archuleta, the 17-year-old singing prodigy from Murray, Utah, with the overly involved stage dad. And there's Cook, the 25-year-old former bartender from Blue Springs, Mo., with an emo edge that the angelic Arculeta lacks.
Who will snag the title next Wednesday?
One thing is for sure: His name will be David.