Eep. It’s tough for me to wrap my mind around recaping the Final 3, because while the show was broadcast here on the East coast, I was actually in a club watching Elvis Costello and the Imposters put on a kick ass show. I’m on a giddy Elvis high right now, but I’ll do my best to concentrate. Here we go.
It’s the big Final 3, and as Ryan says, tonight there are 3 contestants, 3 songs, 3 phone lines and 3 judges. Yay, Ryan can count.
What a difference a week makes. Top 4 was simply dire, with the contestants appearing completely lost singing songs from the Bee Gee’s catalog. This week, in a complete turnabout–the Final 3 put on a great show. The kids are given the opportunity to sing songs that suit their individual performing style. We really get to see them at their best. This is a worthy Final 3. However some are more worthy than others, and I will get to that in a minute.
Traditionally, the Final 3 contestants sing 3 brand new songs. This year, both Jordin and Melinda chose to reprise past performances for their personal choice. I know they had a hectic weekend, but kids, are we in this to win? I think Blake is. Mad props to him for rehearsing and performing a new song.
Here’s a delightful turn of events. No Clive Davis tonight. I guess he decided to stay in the crypt tonight. Or maybe he’s so busy reviving crack-ho Whitney’s career, he can’t squeeze a night of Idol in. No loss. What we get in place of “Clive’s choice” is the catch-all “producer’s choice.” And with no Clive, no mentors and no big celebrities, the focus is finally on the kids, where it belongs.
Things that cracked me up: In the video clips of hometown officials announcing the judges choice songs, they’ve always just “received a fax” straight from the judge–but then read the choice off a yellow piece of production letter head. Tonight’s show features two, count ’em two songs about prostitution. Blake shakes his bon bon with Sir Mix Alot on “Big Butts.” Ryan recites the lyrics to “mmmbop” (shhh, that song is a guilty pleasure of mine).
Jordin Sparks – Simon Cowell chose “Wishing on a Star” by Rose Royce – The song doesn’t give Jordin much of an opportunity to show off her voice. I’m not sure what Simon was thinking when he handed her this song–it’s not very challenging. She performs an updated version–Beyonce style. She’s competent, if a little generic. Randy says, “That was hot.” Simon says, “You sang it brilliantly, Jordin, but I just wish we hadn’t done the weird jazz arrangement with it…I like the purer version of the song…it wasn’t one of your better performances.” Jordin holds up her fingers and makes faces at the camera as Ryan calls out her numbers. The cuteness factor alone could propel her to the finals.
Blake Lewis – Paula Abdul chose “Roxanne” by The Police – This is a tricky one. After last week’s Bee Gees beatbox disaster, Blake decides to sing this one without any beats or fancy stuff. His take is unadorned and straightforward. While his vocal is excellent, I tend to agree with Simon–it’s hard to do this song without sounding like an imitation of Sting. Blake does not successfully come out of Sting’s shadow here. But, his confident performance, complete with a few cool dance moves, saves the song from becoming a bore. A solid, if a bit generic, effort.
Melinda Doolittle – Randy Jackson chose “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston – I love that Randy never misses an opportunity to name drop. He makes sure that everyone at Belmont University knows that he worked with Whitney. It’s bad enough that Randy’s pick is a Whitney Houston song–but it’s one of the worst songs from her catalog. I gotta say, dawg, the vocal isn’t perfect–she hits a few clunkers–but Melinda gets the emotion of the song and keeps it from sounding too sappy. All in all a very good performance. I love what the stylists did with her hair tonight. She looks really pretty. Randy says, “You blew it out the box…that was hot.” Paula says it was one of her best performances all season. I wouldn’t say that. Simon says, “I think it was your best performance in the last 4 weeks…round one goes to Melinda…”
Jordin Sparks – The producers chose “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer – Jordin answers a viewer question: Her favorite song of all time is Hanson’s “mmmbop.” When the audience laughs, Jordin says “What? I’m only 17.” Really? She’s only 17? I did not know that! Har. Ok, now I’m thinking the producers really don’t want Jordin to win this. They could not have picked a worse song for her. Fast-paced up-tempo songs tend to trip Jordin up. She’s OK here though, but nothing spectacular. Randy thinks Jordin can sing anything. “Fantastic” says Paula. Simon thinks it was a very good vocal and that “the money note at the end was very good.” I dunno, at this stage of the game, the kids really need to come out swinging, and so far, Jordin is just “a’ight.”
Blake Lewis – The producers chose “This Love” by Maroon 5 – Blake’s answer to a viewer question: Jim Carrey would play him in a movie, and it would be called “Organized Chaos.” Nice, nice vocal, and the beatboxing Blake throws in really enhances the song. Ok, maybe the producers WANT Blake to advance to the final, because this was a really good song pick for him. Tonight, we really get a sense of the kind of record Blake might make, and it’s pretty obvious that his vocals–though not of the rangy glory-note variety–has commercial appeal. I think that whether Blake moves any farther or not, he’s going to get signed. Randy tells Blake that’s the kind of music he should be recording and “That’s a good vibe for you.” Paula says, “this is a good night for you.” Simon likes this one, “You sounded very comfortable, didn’t sound like a copycat performance…that was good.” Blake is coming out fighting…
Melinda Doolittle – The producers chose “Nutbush City Limits” by Ike and Tina Turner – Melinda’s grandparents are in the audience. Her question: Who was your idol growing up, and why” Melinda says “I would have to say my mommy…we’ve been hanging out since I was a little girl.” The producers pick, surprisingly, an obscure Ike and Tina Turner song. Well, I’m sure the kids have never heard it, anyway. Melinda tears the place up. Really, she definitely has an inner rocker chick going on that does not seem put on or phony. At one point she even picks up the microphone as she wails. An excellent song choice for Melinda–tonight’s song selections prove again that Melinda can, indeed, sing anything. Simon says, “I love that side of you…another brilliant performance.” Randy thinks Melinda took the round. Simon thinks it’s a tie. I think Melinda and Blake took this round.
Ewww. Paula and Simon kissing. Ryan says, “Stop that, it’s not LaKisha.”
Jordin Sparks – Personal choice is “I Who Have Nothing” by Shirley Bassey – The mall where Jordin used to work placed a plaque for her at the bottom of an escalator. Jordin quips, “People can walk all over me now.” Her reprise of “I Who Have Nothing” is very good, just like it was the first time. But, hardly a revelation at this point. For Jordin to make an impression this week, She really needed to choose something new–another ballad that shows off her ability to emote a torchy song. It would have set her apart from Melinda and Blake, and would have also offset the meh quality of the the first two songs. Randy thinks it’s her best performance of the night. Paula says something that made absolutely no sense. Oh, how I love incoherent Pauler. Simon says she sang it very well, but “there was a part of me that hated the fact that a 17 year old was singing a 60 year old song.” Actually, I think that song is only 40 years old, Simon. And hold on a minute…Jordin is only 17??? Yer kidding! Anyway. Jordin timidly points out that his song choice for her is from the 70’s and Simon looks none too pleased.
Blake Lewis – Personal choice is “When I Get You Alone” by Robin Thicke – Blake’s hometown clip has him duetting with Sir Mix Alot on “Bit Butts.” OMG. Sir says, “You now have a new king of Sea-town baby.” Blake is working the plaid pants. I like it. Whoa, this is pretty hot. Very contemporary, and I mean really contemporary. It’s a tricky song, and Blake pulls it off. He throws in some beatboxing mixed in with the singing at the end, and it’s perfect. This is how you win a competition, people. You take a risk, go out on a limb, take that extra time to rehearse an original song rather than re-hashing an audience favorite. Very very smart move for Blake to end with a new song. Blake has sung and performed his way into the finals tonight. Or at least he should have. Randy liked the Maroon 5 song better. Simon gets it, “I actually really liked that. This is what I have liked about you throughout the competition…you don’t play it safe, you take a risk, you actually look like you are having fun.”
Melinda Doolittle – Personal choice is “I’m a Woman” – We see that Melinda’s college has named a street after her. Although Melinda brings back a song she sang previously, she does mix it up a bit. I think this latest version is better than the first. The backup singers are dressed for the part, and come out to join Melinda on stage. I have to say, I love this growly, rock side of Melinda. Like Blake, I think Melinda has sung her way to the finals. Simon says, “We’ve known each other now for 11 weeks..if I’m going to award a place in the final for the person who has consistently delivered week after week it’s you.” Wow, I think Melinda is being pimped big time tonight. So much for the gamblers who predicted she’d be leaving this week…
Who do the judges think will make it into the finale? Randy says he thinks it will be two girls if it’s based on singing. Paula won’t answer. Simon says, “I want to see my girl Melinda in the final.”
Group hug and we’re out…
The Jordin train seems to have stalled on the tracks tonight. Ask me on Monday? I woulda said Jordin in the finale, without a doubt, with a probable win. Ask me on Tuesday? I’m not so sure. Jordin’s performances were good, but lackluster. Simon appears to be pushing for a Melinda win, and she definitely got the highest praise from the judges. She performed last–impeccably and then some. Why, I think the wind has just changed direction. Blake pulled out 1 good and two great performances tonight. He is definitely back in the game.
I would love to see a Blake/Melinda finale, and after tonight’s performance, I believe it’s possible. Dial Idol has all three running neck and neck. The results, peeps, are gonna be a nail-biter.