Tonight is the penultimate “big night” on American Idol, for on stage three talented song stylists will be singing their hearts out to earn two finalist slots. Each contestant will sing three songs and for each, all three songs must be right on the money or the fickle voting public will cut off that contestant’s head with a carving knife. See how they run?
On the other hand, something other than pure singing performance might well govern this elimination. I said “fickle,” didn’t I? “The American People” have proven themselves to be replete with strange voting blocs not only in this year’s competition (viz., Sanjaya) but also in each of the prior years. Someone good always exits early. By the time they reach the cut from three to two, however, the wheat has been separated from the chaff musically, so other factors come to the fore.
That’s why we’ll be saying goodbye to Melinda Doolittle this week. Melinda is the most professionally polished of the remaining singers, but her cool, technical perfection will do her in. Though her songs are everything a vocal coach would want, Melinda does not connect with her audience. Her musical comeuppance was as a backup singer where she let someone else do the connecting while she did what she did best: singing. That’s still what she does best—better than the other two but not yet good enough for prime time.
The two survivors, Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks, are the perfect duo for the final night of performances on May 22. They appeal to a similar demographic; thus, they will divide the voting public right down the middle. We really haven’t had that sort of a final since the great Bo vs. Carrie war of two years ago. I’ll withhold judgment regarding the eventual winner. Hell, I had picked Bo when Carrie won, so I don’t want to jinx anybody just yet.
Tonight, song selection will be of paramount importance. We have no guest mentor to restrict the choices to a particular genre. Accordingly, contestants can have no excuses if they choose unsuitable material. So, the key to success this week is: Pick good songs and sing the hell out of them!