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Wednesday, May 16, 2007


American Idolatry: The Triple Crown

For the remaining contestants on American Idol, it was a night of threes: three singers, three judges, three songs, and three choices. The judges, the producers, and the Idols themselves each got to choose a song, creating the most comprehensive mini-concert set to date on the show...and giving viewers a chance to really judge the singers in a variety of styles and arrangements. I'm still not sure, having watched the whole hour, who will be going home. But first, let's recap:

Jordin Sparks: Judges' Choice: Given a particularly difficult song to sing by Simon -- Rose Royce's "Wishing On A Star" -- Jordin brought her best to it, giving a little star power to a pretty bit of songwriting. Randy took the Beyonce comparison right out of my mouth...her phrasing and inflection definitely owed their style to the former child of destiny. I thought it was a great start. Producers' Choice: Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money" has never been one of the great disco classics, but Jordin gave it a full sound and impish energy...she's too young to understand the class politics of the lyrics or the bitter edge that the song really needs, but to be fair, neither did Donna Summer. Jordin's Choice: "I Who Have Nothing" is a really, really, really, really tough song to make work. The lyrics are wonky, the song has fits and starts (and big stops). I'm not sure it was the best choice she could have made, but she did wow the crowd and impress the judges. It's in the hands of the angels now, but I'm not sure she set herself apart from the other two in any significant way.

Blake Lewis: Judges' Choice: Whereas I believe that Jordin rose the task set before her by the judges, the equally difficult song chosen for Blake ("Roxanne" by The Police) exposed almost every weakness he has. Trying to improve upon the melody lines of Sting is presumptious enough; to render the song flat and dull with an uninspired arrangement was really disappointing. Gotta do better than this if you want to stay in it with the ladies. Producers' Choice: Blake has been channeling Adam Levine all season, so the decision to have him warble Maroon 5's "This Love" seemed like perfect casting. Blake was much more confident having safer ground to walk on, and he delivered. I do feel it was a little charmless, but I suspect that Blake fans won't notice. Blake's Choice: Robin Thicke is another good artist for Blake to copy/emulate, even set against a disco-meets-Beethoven rhythm arrangement. And sure, it's entertaining. If I were a 10 year old girl, I'd be swooning. But I'm not, and even though I recognize it was good, I sat watching it stone-faced. At the end of the day, Blake's achievements are never very grand. (Important side note: he got serious praise from Simon in the last round. At this stage, that could really turn the tide.)

Melinda Doolittle: Randy chosen a softball for Melinda, Whitney Houston's "I Believe In You and Me", and Melinda dutifully knocked it out of the park...which was the entire idea, I think. Down to the key change and the extended scatting at the end, Melinda was built for this kind of song. It's a shame that no one tried to challenge her the way Jordin and Blake were...why not throw her a Depeche Mode song, and she what she does with it? I'd personally love to hear her rip through "Blasphemous Rumours" or "Personal Jesus". Producers' Choice: Give the producers credit for trying to strip Melinda of her soft-rock comfort zone. Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" is a rock stomper, and if Melinda wasn't completely successful, she didn't embarrass herself either. Of course no one, and I mean no one, can be Tina Turner. But Melinda would make a theme park version...and that's meant as a compliment. Melinda's Choice: "'Cause I'm A Woman" is hands-down the best choice of the night, and maybe the season...it allows her to work the fierce-diva energy to a feverish pitch, pulling out every stop (even bringing the backup singers on stage with her). My only complaint? It was too short.

Best of Night: Melinda Doolittle
Getting Cut On Wednesday: Oh God I'm not sure at all...by a hair, I'm going to say Jordin Sparks
Previously on ModFab: Simon Says, Women Who Wowed, When Goth Chicks Ruled The Universe, The Sanjaya Conundrum, You're A Heartbreaker, Bye Bye Barba!, Gender Blending, To Simon With Love, Not Feeling Hella Good, Mack The Knife, Haley The Slut, Livin' La Vida Loca, Oh Bucky Covington Where Art Thou?, Not Exactly Live Aid, You'll Make It I Swear, Night Fever



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