So, you gotta ask yourself, does Blake really want to win this competition? After Wednesday night's results show, Entertainment Weekly's blogger witnessed the coin toss between Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks to determine who would sing first at Tuesday's finale. Blake won the coin toss, but then offered Jordin her choice to go first or second. She might only be 17, as everyone keeps reminding us, but nobody had to remind her of the value of the pimp spot, which she quickly grabbed up. Blake, you're such a gentleman, but was gallantry worth possibly forfeiting the contest? Four the the past five winners landed the pimp spot in the finale (the exception being Ruben Studdard). Guess Blake's figuring that the pimp spot didn't save Melinda on Tuesday. Anyway, here's what went down, according to EW:
"[Executive producer] Nigel [Lythgoe] quickly collected the two finalists, Ryan [Seascrest] and Debbie [the stage manager] to stage the coin toss to see which of the pair would sing first Tuesday night. With the judges giving their final words of encouragement to Melinda, Ryan got the honors of flipping the custom-made coin with Blake’s head on one side and Jordin’s on the other. Either Nigel hoped that whoever made that coin didn’t have a blog, or he had two other coins made for the other two outcomes. If it’s the latter, they’ve got to be the collector’s item of the year, right?
Blake won the toss and got to choose. His first response, with a nervous, cheesy smile: 'Let's let the producers decide.' No, scolded Ryan (gently), it’s your choice Blake. 'Do you want to sing first?' Blake asked Jordin. She shook her head as if she’d been asked on a date by a 43-year-old: No! 'Well, okay, I'll sing first then.' And with that, the finale is on!"
Not only that, but in an interview in yesterday's USA Today, when asked, "How important is it for you to win the competition and be the American Idol?"
Blake answered, "I just view it day by day. I've never thought of it as a competition. I just want to go out and do my best each time I'm out there. If I win, that's great. Jordin was my pick since the beginning to be the American Idol."
Other acts of gallantry (by Blake and others): Those bouquets everybody seems to be asking us about? They were meant for, and handed to, the two finalists -- Blake and Jordin -- during Melinda's journey video montage. But Blake bequeathed his to Melinda. And when it came time for Melinda to bring in the backup singers, she was up that exit ramp bequeathing said flowers onto her vocal support group. What’s more, when the show was over, Jordin handed her bouquet to Melinda, who immediately turned right around and passed it on to the other two backup singers.
What great attitudes all around, exactly what a true American Idol should possess.
Here is the rest of the USA Today interview with Blake and Jordin:
As a musician who puts a lot of effort into arranging his songs, will it be easy or difficult to work with record producers?
Blake: I work really well with other people. I've already started writing many songs and started recording demos the whole time I was here. Before "American Idol," I was already working on an album. I've got at least six or seven tracks right now that could be on an album.
Were you surprised by the elimination of Melinda Doolittle, considered by many to be the favorite?
Blake: I think everyone was surprised each week so, I mean, yeah, I was surprised.
Did you say anything to Melinda on stage after the elimination?
Blake: I just told her I loved her and to knock it out.
How's your energy level?
Blake: Well, from going home and staying up so late and the schedule's grueling, I'm definitely tired this week. This was the first time I've ever fallen asleep, like I'd fall asleep in the Ford shoot or in rehearsals. I've never done that in my life.
Is there a previous Idol you'd like to model your career after?
Jordin: I love Kelly Clarkson. I love her attitude and that she just stays the same no matter what. She's amazing, a Grammy winner, beautiful. I want a career like that. Hello? Give me some tips … There are a ton of other Idols I look up to. I love all of them. I can't name any more because I don't want to leave anyone out.
Simon Cowell has said some of your songs seem too old for you. What do you think?
Jordin: Half of me agrees and half of me is like, what am I going to do? I can't help it if the songs I love are older or newer. I agree with him that it is more modern-day, so I understand that he wants me to sing stuff more people known. At the same time, if a song speaks to me, I'm going to want to sing it.
Were you surprised by tonight's results?
Jordin: It was one of those nights where anything could have happened, so I don't know. I was very sad to see Melinda go, but she is going to be so fine. She is amazing and she is going to reach so many people and the world is going to be such a better place with her in it and singing her songs and what she wants to sing about.
MELINDA DOOLITTLE EXIT INTERVIEW
Yesterday, Melinda Doolittle held a conference call exit interview with the press. Here are highlights from the transcript:
TVGuide.com: 72% of our readers are saying that they are very shocked to see you go last night. Now that you’ve had some time to think about it, why do you think that you were sent home last night?
You know what, first of all, I was up against two amazing contestants, so that was part of it to me. I love Jordin and Blake, so I think they did a fabulous job on Tuesday night. But also I know that I was probably getting a little bit of the older vote, which is great. And I had a lot of people come up and say, "You know, I voted for you five times last night." It was so good. So I have – you know, sometimes they may not spend a full two hours voting or anything like that, and that's okay. But I really feel like personally that I've won as far as, you know, where I ended up in this competition.
TVGuide.com: People here are wondering what kind of album, what style of album do you think you might come out with?
Oh gosh, the only way that I know to describe it is just soul music. You know, anything from the heart. I love a groove; I love anything where I can tell a story. And so to me, I just kind of describe that as soul music. I hope to have just a great soul album.
Wireless Flash News: Simon Cowell kind of gave you a hard time throughout the season, saying that you always looked kind of surprised and shocked when people are complimenting your awesome singing and everything. Was this shocking to you? Did you know that you did this or was it just – is that just the way your personality is?
You know what, it is part of my personality. Plus I was coming out of singing background for so many years, I get so used to having to sound like other people that "American Idol" was my first time really stepping out and finding out what my voice sounded like. So the fact that people liked it and were giving me good comments was surprising to me. It was a great honor. But it always kind of shocked me right at first.
Wireless Flash News: So you were adjusting to being in the limelight and not just background singing.
Exactly. So it was my little adjustment process there. So I couldn't help it; sorry.
Wireless Flash News: Who did you laugh or joke around with the most on the show? Like is there just one particular person that would always make you laugh backstage or anything like that?
Goodness, everybody is hilarious out here. I'm kind of the momma of the bunch because I'm the oldest, so I call them all my babies. I felt like I kind of hung out with them. Jordin, being the youngest, is my baby girl, definitely. But I mean we all hang out, Blake, everybody. Blake is kind of the class clown, so he might have been one of the funniest ones.
US Weekly online: America collectively held their breath last night when Ryan Seacrest teased going into the break, "After the break Melinda's going home." What was your feeling when he spoke those words? Did you kind of – did your heart skip a beat like the rest of us?
No. I think maybe either I didn't notice or I just thought he was talking about the package that they were going to show about me going home to Nashville, because I knew I was the next person for them to show. So I just assumed that's what he was talking about.
I’ve heard a lot of speculation about that, but I don't think it was that at all, I think he was just getting us ready for the next package they were going to show.
US Weekly online: My follow-up question is about your fashion sense. We’ve really seen you evolve from day one in your audition to last night. Are you dressing yourself now or are they [the Idol stylists] still lending a hand? What are you going to pack in your suitcase? Are you going to be able to do that on your own for the tour?
You know what, I am packing my suitcase as we speak and wondering the same thing. The show has great stylists, so Miles and Art have been extremely helpful to me being out on the show. And then I just was privileged to have a best friend that was a stylist also, so she was very helpful to me. Hopefully they’ve instilled something into me that helps me shop a little better, but we'll just have to see. I’m probably just going to be wearing things I've already worn that I know work already.
Life & Style Weekly: We were just touching on Ryan's comment before the commercial break, saying, "Oh, Melinda's going home." But have you heard a lot of buzz after the fact? You said you didn’t really notice it then. But have you heard talk of it afterwards, that maybe it was any kind of slip or a hint or do you think he was just saying it in regards to your package about going home?
You know, I've heard – a couple of my friends called and asked me did I even notice, and I was like, "No." I mean the only thing to me he could have been talking about was the package. I don't think it was even a slip; I just think that was what he was talking about. So I was completely fine with it; it didn't phase me at all last night.
Life & Style Weekly: What was going through your mind last night when you were called upfront for results? And then what was your reaction when he told you the journey was ending for you then and there?
You know what, when he called me upfront, just by the nature of the show and how it normally goes, I kind of had an idea that it would be me. So I was kind of prepared for it and I was just kind of taking deep breaths and kind of ready to go to the next step. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I thought I was possibly going to lose it, but it was actually a happy occasion that I made it this far. So I’m kind of glad it turned out that way.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Did you get a chance to speak to Simon after the show last night?
I did, and he was ultra-supportive last night. He was just really explaining to me that he really believed in me and wanted to me succeed. And that's great to hear, especially coming from Simon, you know. But all of the judges were so sweet to me afterwards, and just really encouraging about what's to come in the future. So I'm looking forward to what's coming next.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: On Tuesday, when you sang on "I'm a Woman" you brought out the backup singers. Was that sort of an homage to your past as a backup singer? Did you do that on purpose?
You know what, I had remembered doing the song before and going back to sing with them the first time, and those girls are – have been kind of my rock out here. They're amazing singers and I like to call them support singers now, because they're not really backup singers; they can all hold their own upfront. So they've just decided to support us out here, and I'm so grateful for it. I love the fact that people get to see them in their element also. So that was kind of my motivation on that, is that people see that those are supporting singers and they're amazing at what they do.
AOL TV: Have you heard from any of the artists that you used to sing backup for? Have they said anything to you during the competition?
I have; I've heard from quite a few artists that have just been extremely supportive to me and excited for me, because a lot of them have only heard me sing background, so this was something new for them also. So they were kind of on the journey with me and they were extremely, extremely excited about. So it's been a great run. They've been supportive. Even when I ask questions they've been extremely supportive in the press and everything for me too.
AOL TV: Can you say which ones?
Sure, CeCe Winans, Anointed, Martha Munizzi, Risen, Sandi Patty, kind of mainly just gospel artists that I've been singing with, so it has been great to hear from them.
AOL TV: And you and Mandisa from the last season are friends. I'm wondering if she gave you any advice for this season.
Mandisa has been great for me. She has just kind of been the person that understands what I'm going through, so if I need to bounce anything off of her I can. And not necessarily advice other than, "Be yourself. Love it. Live in the moment. And give 100%." So she's been a great rock.
OK! Magazine: Paula once said that she really wanted you to let loose. Is there a song that you felt that you finally, you did that and you were just able to really let yourself go on stage?
You know what, sadly, I think the first time I let loose was after I got eliminated last night. I was – there's so much that goes through your head while you're onstage, getting ready to be judged and getting ready to be voted on, that I don't know that I've completely achieved letting loose like during the actual show. I think I've gotten close, but I don't believe that I completely achieved it. So last night was kind of a full-circle moment for me in the fact that I was able to just let go and have a great time onstage. So it really meant a lot to me.
OK! Magazine: What will you take away from your "American Idol" experience now?
You know what, the biggest thing that I will take away is that I know I was really scared to do this at the beginning. And the fact that I was able to step out and do it even in the midst of fear kind of just gave me an outlook on how strong God has helped me become and how much I've grown from it. I've found my own voice, as opposed to my blending voice, singing background, and I couldn't have asked for more from this experience.
Soap Opera Weekly: During the season which live performance turned out better than you expected?
Better than I expected, oh goodness. I'm trying to think. I think maybe "Have a Nice Day," because I was most afraid of doing rock because I've never even attempted it before, so it was kind of out, way out of my comfort zone. I'm still dumfounded that people really liked it, so I think that one was the one that ended up turning out better than I ever expected.
Soap Opera Weekly: How did your mother react last night and what words of advice have your family members given you?
Well, my Mom was at home, and so she called me and was so, so encouraging and so sweet about everything, and just wanted to first of all make sure I was okay. And then once I told her I was okay she was like, "Great, then I'm okay. We're going to take this and run with it." So she's been my biggest supporter out here, and I know we'll continue to be, so we're excited.
US Weekly: Can you think of anecdote to tell us about when you were a backup singer, like something fun you did back then?
I’m trying to think – oh my goodness. We have, I mean we have so much fun on the road, but most of it happens off-stage, because I travel with people that are so – especially like the group Anointed; we're just silly by nature, so we have days that we set up like a musical and we just, we sing about everything. That's probably been my most fun out on the road, is just being able to let loose and have a day that we just call our musical day. And we do what we call our little ugly runs and do something that just sounds funny and silly. That's probably – I'm sorry I can't think of a funny story.
US Weekly: Are you going to miss that as being a solo artist?
I am. You know, I got to talk to them yesterday and a couple of other people yesterday and I loved singing background so much. And while I am so excited about what's to come in the future, I'm going to – there are parts of it that I will still miss. But as long as I get to hang out with them, I think I'll be probably cool, because they're like family to me so.
Houston Chronicle: You said earlier that you were really afraid going into this to do it. Was there a point that you reached that you sort of shed that fear, that you realized, "Hey, this is something that I can go far in?"
Well, you know what, there is a lady, she's actually a minister, and I heard something that she said and it totally changed my outlook on it. She was talking about being afraid and she said that the key is not losing the fear, but if you can do it afraid, then the fear will go. And I think that's kind of how it happened; I think it was a gradual thing for me. I think each week there was a bit of fear incorporated into the week, but as long as I stepped up to it and did it in the midst of that fear, then I moved further each week and got past it more and more. So I don't know to say that I'm all the way there, but I'm still working on it.
Houston Chronicle: A local artist here in town, Christian Andreason, you had actually sung backup for. What was it like working with him?
I just, I remember having a blast. And I think we only got to work on one like one song in the studio together, but it was so much fun and it was one of those songs where you could just be free and do your thing at the end of it. It just – I had a great time, and he brought out a little bit of me in the midst of all of that, you know, kind of letting me do a little step-out on his project, and that was huge. It was a great experience.
Houston Chronicle: He said he definitely tried to pull you out, to really go for it on that song ["The Rhythm of Life"].
He did. And that was so helpful to me because I needed that. He helped along with the learning process and I’m grateful for it.
San Antonio Express: Haley Scarnato was there in the audience, I noticed.
Oh, that’s my girl.
San Antonio Express: Did she get to talk to you about anything afterwards? Did you have a reunion?
No, I didn’t get to really see anybody afterwards because I had interviews and different things to do, so I kind of had to run out. But I know that we're already starting rehearsals for the finale today, so I'll get to hook her neck as soon as I get there.
San Antonio Express: There was a point that you not only just looked better and looked more confident, but you looked sexier and you acted sexier. Where did that come from?
Oh goodness, I have no idea. I’m going to blame it on the new wig.
San Antonio Express: Oh, were you wearing a wig?
Oh my goodness, every week. I love them. I started to name them. So I think by last night I had Whitney on, and Whitney is my new favorite. I call her Whitney, so maybe she helped out with that one.
San Antonio Express: You were talking about the young vote earlier and you had a lot of older voters. How much do you think that figured in as far as this last elimination?
I think, you know, it may have figured in, it may not have. I don't know. I'm just, in speculating I'm not sure. Maybe it could just be that, you know, more people liked Jordin and Blake and I'm okay with that too. So I don't know exactly how much it played into it. I've read in certain places that maybe it did, and that's definitely a possibility.
Starry Constellation Magazine: How do you feel about the fans’ shock about the elimination.
You know what, it feels wonderful. And I'm so grateful for people actually being shocked by it. At this point in the competition it's kind of like, "Well, there's only three of us, so one of us has to go home." But I'm just grateful that people wanted me to stick around and believed in me, so that means the world to me.
Starry Constellation Magazine: There is definitely a lot of Melinda support going around, no matter where we are.
It's amazing to see, and it's such a great chance to be able to say thank you. I'm just, I'm grateful to get the chance to do that.
Starry Constellation Magazine: How much do you think the arrangements of the song really play in the factor of how much people vote and how people enjoy the performances?
Occasionally I think maybe the arrangements play into it. It can go one way or another. Like sometimes you can have an arrangement that you love and people don't really connect with it because they're so used to a certain version of the song. Then there are other times where you can take the song to a whole other level. So I think, I really commend like Blake for taking risks like that. And I think that he did a great job with taking a song and making it more like Blake and kind of, you know, taking it to another level as opposed to taking it backwards.
People magazine: Can you talk a little bit about behind the scenes at "American Idol" and some of the fun anecdotes maybe you remember near the end or just in general?
You know what, we all – I think maybe because of the pressure of what we go through, when we get backstage we are ready to let go. So we are a silly bunch backstage. We just, I mean we love to hang out, kind of like one big, happy family. So for the most part we love to just hang out. We tease about certain things that may be on the Internet or certain things that the judges may have said. And we just, we try to take it as lightly as possible so that we don't go home crying anytime soon.
People magazine: How did Blake's dad make it up on stage last night? And he kind of was kind of sent offstage by Ryan. Do you know all about that, like how that kind of – did they summon him up or did he just ...?
I think so. I believe they asked him to come up, yes. And just, you know, just to come up and support his son, and then they needed to get to the results section, so I think that's when he went off the stage, yes.
Gannett News Service: You mentioned that you love Blake and Jordin and you've mentioned little bits about them. Could you expand just a little bit more please and just tell what you find particularly interesting.
Well, okay, first of all Jordin is 17 years old and it does not make any sense to me for a 17-year-old to be able to sing that amazingly well. I just – I am just in awe of her. So she's got one of the most mature voices I've ever heard, especially on someone her age. And gosh, she's got such a pure heart, and I think it comes through when she goes to sing and when she goes to emote a song. So that's my baby girl and I wish her the best.
Gannett News Service: And for Blake, you mentioned a little bit about that he's a fun person. What else do you find interesting about him as a performer?
Well, you know, I think that he may quite possibly be one of the most original performers "American Idol" has ever had. He takes a song, he makes it his own, whether it's beat-boxing, dancing, kind of putting a different groove to it. I believe that he took risks and I am so proud of him for doing that and for stepping out and making people listen to a different style.
Gannett News Service: Did you actually grow up in Nashville or in a town elsewhere in Tennessee?
Well, you know, I spent the last 9.5, almost 10 years in Nashville, and before that I was in Tulsa, Okla.
Gannett News Service: Some people list you as being born and growing up in Tennessee, but actually did you grow up in Tulsa?
Well, how it worked was I spent years 0 to 10 in St. Louis, Mo., 10 to 20 in Tulsa, Okla., and 20 to 29 in Nashville.
Flint Journal: What inspired you to finally try out for the show? And how do you see the way you’ve transformed as a performer over this time period?
Well, deciding to audition for "American Idol" kind of happened on a fluke because I was driving down with a friend of mine, and wanting to support him. And also the way he talked me into driving to Memphis was like, he was like, "Remember the funny auditions? Maybe now you can see them in person." So we got a couple more friends and we all went down and assume that you had to audition to get inside. So we all signed up to audition and I ended up being the only one out of that group to make it through.
And as it kept going I was like, "Oh my goodness, I’m still here." And so it kind of forced me to kind of take it by the reins and just be like, "Okay, guys, we're going to do this I guess." So the growth in me has just been amazing and just me learning about myself and learning kind of how I react to these kinds of situations, how I react to being up front and everything.
Moderator: Do you have any closing remarks, Melinda?
Just thank everyone so much for taking the time to ask me questions and wanting to know the answers, and for being so supportive. And I really appreciate it.
CLOTHES OFF THE BACKS OF IDOLS
In the name of charity, Season 2 Idol finalist Kimberley Locke and the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation have partnered to auction off clothing and accessories worn by Idol contestants and participants. The "Kimberley Locke & Idol Friends" online charity auction begins Monday, May 21 at clothesoffourback.org.
Bidding begins at 9:00 a.m. ET on favorite wardrobe pieces of this season's Top 12 finalists (Melinda Doolittle, Stephanie Edwards, Gina Glocksen, LaKisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Sanjaya Malakar, Chris Richardson, Brandon Rogers, Haley Scarnato, Chris Sligh, Jordin Sparks and Phil Stacey) as well as numerous items donated by previous finalists, including, among others, shirts worn by Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken, one of Ruben Studdard's 205 jerseys, a suit of Paula Abdul's and one of Simon Cowell's T-shirts.
Additional donations have been made by Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest as well as past Idols Josh Gracin, Carmen Rasmusen, Anthony Fedorov, Nikki McKibbin, Kimberly Caldwell, RJ Helton, Mandisa and Jon Peter Lewis.
The auction will also soon feature exclusive "Idols Live 2007" concert tour "meet-n-greets" with finalists as well as autographed merchandise.
Locke, whose single "Change" is currently on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and whose sophomore album, "Based on a True Story," dropped May 1 on Curb Records , explains, "I still had a few items that I wore on "American Idol" that I knew had a better use than hanging in my closet. The money Clothes Off Our Back and I raise will go to Camp Heartland, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and their families facing HIV/AIDS, poverty, grief and other painful life challenges; as well as the Children’s Defense Fund; Autism Speaks’ research division (formerly Cure Autism Now) and the emergency relief efforts in Darfur (specifically Friends of the World Food Program, Save the Children and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF), and will also bring fans just a little closer to their favorite Idols."
Past Idol participants who want to participate should email this address.
e-mail Idol Addict