Seriously, where were the wows? This is the Top 3 for goodness sake. We have a right to expect to be blown out of our seats. We weren't. Not that there was anything patently wrong with any of the performances, there wasn't. They were all good. But great? Chill-inducing? No and no. Quick assessment of best to worst: Melinda, Blake, Jordin. Now that was a surprise. We thought Jordin would easily trump Blake on vocals, but didn't.
And we have a question: Where was Clive Davis? Very strange that the cadaverous wizened producer was missing - the second song for each contestant was picked by "the producers." And, strangely, Davis' client Leona Lewis, who was originally scheduled to perform on tonight's results show, just days ago developed a case of tonsillitis that sent her rushing home to the UK to rest her throat. (Laughingly, Lewis fans declared on blogs and Web sites that's Idol's producers decided they didn't want her to perform and show up the Top 3. Ha! Right!). Instead, Maroon 5 and the already scheduled Elliott Yamin, last season's third-place finisher, will perform tonight.
Finally, we predicted that this would be Melinda's farewell party, but after seeing the performances and looking at Dialidol's predictions, it's anyone's guess who is going home tonight. Their rankings for last night, from first to last, are Melinda, Jordin, Blake, but the numbers are so close, that when you factor in the margin of error, any on the contestants could wind up in the 1, 2 or 3 positions. So expect Ryan Seacrest to be telling us tonight about the same thing he told us last season when Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin were standing on that same stage -- that less than one percentage point separate the three finalists. Another thing to consider (and we can't verify the veracity of this), we've read that every year to date, the contestant who performed first on Final 3 night was eliminated. We know for sure that was true for Season 1 (Nikki McKibbin) and Season 5 (Elliott Yamin), but we can't remember the order for Seasons 2, 3 and 4. However, a check with Wikipedia shows that Vonzell Solomon was up first Season 4, Jasmine Trias was up first Season 3 and Kimberley Locke was up first Season 2. So, if this holds true tonight, Jordin is road kill. We're jus sayin' ...
Opening the night was Jordin Sparks singing Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star," selected for her by judge Simon Cowell. This saccharine-sweet song about rainbows, dreams and stars (why does it make us think of My Little Pony?) has also been covered by The Cover Girls and, most recently, by Beyoncé. But even though Jordin clapped happily when Glendale, Ariz. Mayor Elaine Scruggs announced the song title at her homecoming last week, she admitted after performing it that she had never heard of it prior to learning it (Hmmm, guess that makes Jordin a good little actress as well as a good singer). She chose a jazz arrangement instead of the traditional version and, to be honest, it was as bland as, but less interesting than, the vanilla ice cream we were eating while she performed it. So we were a bit nonplussed (though we shouldn't have been) when Randy Jackson told her "That was a very good vocal" and that the run at the end was hot, while Paula Abdul said "Simon picked a good song for you" and that it was a great way to open the show. Cowell, himself, wasn't as pleased. He said she sang it brilliantly (not), but that he wasn't crazy about the weird jazz arrangement, noting "Even though I chose the song, it wasn't actually one of your better performances." Of her three performances, we'd rank this her second best (or No. 2) for the night. BTW, we also hated the shorter curly hair tonight. The way it hung around the sides of her head, she looked kinda like a poodle. And the sleeveless dress revealing her huge shoulders made her look like a linebacker. Watch video of Jordin singing "Wishing on a Star":
Blake Lewis fared much better with Paula's pick of The Police's "Roxanne." We thought Paula's choice of a song about a hooker was rather daring and the best judge's choice of the night. Although we actually had rather low expectations of what Blake would do with the song, we were pleasantly surprised. It was reminiscent of Sting's version without being karaoke. He also, wisely, chose to withhold the beat-boxing on this entry, which was not only fitting, it answered all the critics who gave him grief over what they felt was excessive beat-boxing last week. It was definitely more interesting than Jordin's first performance. The judges generally liked it, except Simon, who was lukewarm. Randy said "All in all, I've got to give you an 'A' on that." Paula, pleased with her choice, said "It was fresh, I really loved it." Simon offered that it wasn't earth-shattering (well, nothing was last night), saying it's hard to sing that song without impersonating Sting (Not true. And anyway, Simon, every song on the show is a cover, so who are the contestants supposed to sound like?), ending with "It was good, it wasn't great." The audience, of course, booed. He yelled back at them, then argued with Paula over whether it was good or great. Of his three performances, we'd rank Blake's first his second best (or No. 2) for the night. BTW, Blake's dark hair was some weird, in-between beginning-to-fade color, but he was full out Team Plaid last night, wearing a plaid vest for the first number. Watch video of Blake singing "Roxanne":
Melinda Doolittle had the best first round, with Randy Jackson's rather uninspired choice of Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me." As the show went to the video of Melinda receiving Randy's song choice, his head was moving rhythmically back-and-forth like one of those bobblehead dogs sitting in the back window of a car in the '50s. Weird. Funnier was Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen reading Randy's telegram, which started "Check it out! I picked a hot one for Melinda to sing ...", then went on (in the telegram!) to tout that he worked with Whitney Houston (good for you, Randy). Funniest was the governor finishing the telegram with "Rock on, Randy Johnson," which Melinda then laughingly responded to with "Thank you, Randy Johnson." These politicians don't watch Idol much, do they? The judges noted that the song is a hard one to sing because of all the range changes, but we felt it just wasn't a song greatly suited to Melinda's voice. However, like everything else all season, Melinda handled it ably. Cheers to her. The judges unanimously praised her. Randy said "That was hot, you blew it out the box." Paula's kudos included "I think it was one of your best performances this season" (eh, don't know that we agree with that) and Simon Cowell said "I think it was your best performance in the last four weeks" (not sure we even agree with that). He also declared that Melinda had won Round 1. That we did agree with. Of her three performances, we'd rank Melinda's first her second best (or No. 2) for the night. For her first number, Melinda wore a saucy little dress that we thought looked great on her. Watch video of Melinda singing "I Believe in You and Me":
Jordin turned Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," chosen for her by the producers, into a dull, boring song, for us a near train wreck. She sang it in tune, but the arrangement was too fast, so she ran through the words without any feeling or expression. For us, it was a totally unsatisfying performance. Once again, we were stunned by the praise she received for what earlier in the season would have gotten serious karaoke criticism. Randy said it was "Very nicely done." Paula said "Jordin, you worked hard for the money tonight, I thought you were fantastic," while Simon told Jordin "Actually, it was a very good performance." But during his critique, Simon was laughing and carrying on with Paula, acting as if what was going on with the show was the least important thing in the room. It made us wonder it they had even listened to the performance, as it's been reported that they often don't. For us, we ranked it Jordin's worst (No. 3) of the evening, though it was her best outfit of the night. We like the top (though it was again sleeveless) and jeans. Watch video of Jordin singing "She Works Hard for the Money":
Blake was next up with his producers' choice, Maroon 5 's "This Love." They picked a great song for him and we thought the ratio of singing to beat-boxing was exactly right. Though it wasn't the best performance of the night, it was Blake's best performance of the night and he was looking really solid compared with Jordin at this point. The judges were pretty much in agreement on liking this one. Randy declared it "Very nicely done," and told Blake that when he makes a record, this is the type he should do. Paula told him that he was totally within his element and that "This is a good night for you" while Simon said "Actually, I preferred that one to the first song, Blake." We ranked this Blake's best (No. 1) song (and outfit) of the evening. Watch video of Blake singing "This Love":
We also thought the producers' choice for Melinda was inspired. They picked Ike and Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" and Melinda rocked the house. It might not have been her best performance ever (we would have liked to see more of the attitude she exhibited when she performed Bon Jovi's "Have a Nice Day"), but we thought it was the best of the night. This girl can do no wrong. Randy said "I liked that," and like Blake before her, told Melinda that she should put it on a record. Paula enthused, "We love, we love you, and we love you," to which Simon sarcastically retorted, "That's why we hired you, Paula," then commended Melinda with, "Love that side of you. I thought it was actually again another brilliant performance." We rated this Melinda's best (No. 1) song of the night. Randy declared Melinda the winner of Round 2, while Simon called it a tie, but between whom? Certainly, it wasn't a three-way. Watch video of Melinda singing "Nutbush City Limits":
For her contestant's choice song, Jordin smartly returned to her comfort zone -- ballads -- and the best one she performed all season, Tom Jones' "I Who Have Nothing," from British Invasion week. It was another great performance of the song for Jordin, though it didn't give us goosebumps like the first time she performed it, but perhaps only because we knew what to expect and we even heard her sing again during her hometown visit. Randy told her "I think that was your best performance of the night" (he has to think about that?), while Paula said "It sat well with your voice and how it built. Good choice ... You just sounded really great." Perhaps not surprisingly, Simon said "I wasn't loving it as much as I should have done, because it's an incredibly old-fashioned song and performance, so I actually wish you had chosen another song." But then Simon didn't like it the first time she sang it. He's wrong, wrong, wrong on this one. We again hated the lingerie slip-style dress on Jordin. Spaghetti straps are not becoming on someone with her shoulder span. We rank this Jordin's best (No. 1) performance and worst outfit of the evening. Watch video of Jordin singing "I Who Have Nothing":
Why Blake would pick a song by Robin Thicke for his final performance was beyond us. Thicke was awful performing a couple of week's back and although Blake sounded much better doing his "When I Get You Alone," it actually detracted from his far-better performances earlier in the evening. He used a little more beat-boxing in this one, but we weren't crazy about the song, so as far as we were concerned he could have beat-boxed the whole thing. Least enthusiastic was Randy, who said it was cool, but that he liked the Maroon 5 song better (agreed!), ending with "It was alright." Paula said that all three songs last night exemplified who Blake was as an artist and that "I think you had three great songs, three great performances." Er, wrong. Simon (shock!) said "I actually really liked that," adding that this was what he liked about Blake all season: "You don't play it safe, you take a risk and you actually look like you are having fun." We agree with all that, but we still weren't crazy about the song choice. We rated this Blake's worst (No. 3) performance, and we still hate those plaid pants. The subtler check-patterned white vest (or sweater?) was better. Watch video of Blake singing "When I Get You Alone":
The night's last performance was Melinda in an encore of Peggy Lee's "I'm a Woman," which was done great, but lost it's impact because we had heard her do it previously. Still, we can't fault anything about the performance and we've used up all our superlatives on Melinda. Yet, we wish she would have given us a "wow" moment last night. Randy, having run out of superlatives as well, relied on the time-tested "You can sing anything, the phone book, whatever, whatever." Paula said "You're awesome. Melinda, you're fantastic." Simon, started with "Loved the little strip tease at the top" (she took her jacket off), then accorded her the respect she has earned all season, with, "If I'm going to award a place in the finals to the person who has consistently delivered week after week, it's you." Right on. America, are you listening? We ranked this Melinda's second best (No. 2, yes a tie with her first song) of the evening. Watch video of Melinda singing "I'm a Woman":
We think Melinda should definitely get a place in the finals, but we're still unsure what America will say. Based on last night, Blake deserves the other spot. But Jordin's fan base is so strong it's impossible to predict what is actually going to come down tonight.
Our Top 2: Melinda Doolittle, Blake Lewis
We would vote off: Jordin Sparks
America will vote off: Blake Lewis
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