UPDATE: I just read Entertainment Weekly's rundown of the show (some of which I missed. Hey, I'm in Cannes so it ain't easy staying up till 3 am. and then getting up at 8.) They describe Jordin dissing Simon's first choice of song for her. It WAS a bad choice, but that is not the right attitude to take. Coupling that with her retort to Simon when he said "I (Who Have Nothing)" was old-fashioned (she said, Wasn't Rose Royce -- the singers of Wishing On A Star" -- from the Seventies?) is very bad for her image. Battling with Simon is tricky, but in this case it sounds petty rather than witty or earned. In some ways, she started it when remaining polite is ALWAYS the way to go on Idol, even when you stand up for yourself, ie give Simon a little bit of attitude. I really do think it's a squeaker and that the producers (and judges) loaded everything in Blake's favor, from song choice to presentation to their comments. If Wishing On A Star was as weak as "She Works Hard For The Money," I'd say two weak performances and a mildly bad attitude mean Blake will be facing off with Melinda.
You know what? It's a horse race Like most everyone, I've assumed it would be Melinda and Jordin in the final. But Blake has come on very strong and while sex appeal hasn't been a huge factor on the show (people really focus on the personalities and yes the singing or it would always be cute, less talented people in the top and it never, ever is), it could help Blake here. No combination of these three would surprise me.
JORDIN -- Missed her Simon picked song. "Wishing On A Star," I think. Had trouble with the slingbox.
COMMERCIAL BREAK -- Did Blake do a goofy, "I'm shorter, I'm taller" sort of thing?
BLAKE -- Paula picked the Police's "Roxanne" and first we saw Blake with his hometown mayor and a raucous crowd. He had the preppy look and the vest. Everyone pegged Chris Richardson for the Justin Timberlake ripoff but Blake aped JT's style just as much. Looked wholesomely sexy throughout, perfect for moms and their daughters. He was just singing and though it was a xerox of the Police he had fun and moved well and was v confident and dropping to his knees at the end was v Idol-friendly. Definitely has his game face on.
MELINDA -- It's almost cruel. Blake got to be seen w a huge, cheering crowd. Melinda is stuck in some anonymou meeting room with a stiff governor talking. No favors for her here. Randy chose Whitney Houston's 'I Believe In You and Me." (He even mentioned in the telegram that he has worked with Whitney, which is so funny I have to pray he meant it to be. But he didn't.) She did it well, but I couldn't really watch it because Slingbox as it's set up by Pete and Joe only lets me watch live and my friend Stephen was fascinated by Slngbox and asked all sorts of questions while she was singing and I was too embarrassed to say, Dude, wait a minute. I'm watching my Idol.
COMMERCIAL BREAK -- Blake and Jordin did a funny mock kiss and then surprised stare that the camera caught them. This is the defining quirk of the season -- Blake's little commercial break ideas -- and we're gonna get awfully sick of them in years to come but full credit to him for thinking of them and keeping the camera on him in a fun way.
JORDIN -- Her favorite song is "Mmmbop!" Don't apologize: it's a great pop tune. Nice extra camera time, though I think they all got a question to answer. Thanks, producers! Then the producers had her sing Donna Summers' "She Works Hard For The Money. " Thanks a lot, producers. The song is filled with low notes on the chorus (her weak spot) and doesn't give her a chance to shine. Jordin rearranged the finale to give herself some higher notes and flourishes at the end and pulls it off nicely. But still, a boring song to cover. Nonetheless, she does it well and laughs like a pro when the judges get silly and lose focus. It could have been annoying - hey, it's my life on the line here -- but she made it seem like it was all fun. Randy jokes that Simon is drunk: "Can we get some black coffee here?"
BLAKE -- He says Jim Carrey should play him in a movie. Uh, maybe he could play Blake's DAD. The producers pick Maroon 5's "This Love," a much better fit than Jordin's. Could they possibly want Blake in the final instead of two women? In either case, it'll be youth versus experience. Blake does a nice dance move spin into his first vocal line and the range here isn't great. But since he doens't have a big voice, this is perfect for him. He's wholesomely sexy still and has finally learned that the beatboxing should just be a little spice thrown in, not the main meal. Simon says it wasn't a copycat vocal -- even though it was, wasn't it? (Except for the beatboxing.)
MELINDA -- Melinda gets a street named after her, then the producers give her an entire town: Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits." Turner is a good model for showing off Melinda's modestly funky side, but why a relatively lesser known song instead of one of her big hits? What if Melinda wailed on "River Deep, Mountain High" with a full orchestra? But she has fun w it and seems young and ready to go. Doesn't miss a step.
JORDIN -- She gets a star at the mall she used to work at. The operative word being "used" since she ain't ever gonna work in a mall anymore -- not even a mall tour. Her favorite song (from the season, I assume) is "I Who Have Nothing," which was absolutely sensational the first time she did it, though the judges didn't rave nearly as much as I expected. She does it really well again and the finale when she goes into that upper register with such controlled conviction and passion is sensational. Thrilling. The judges are positive again but should be raving. Simon says the song is"old-fashioned." It's a classic, actually and yes, it's an old-fashioned one in its arrangement but she delivers it with such belief that it works completely. Her best performance.
BLAKE -- His favorite song is the Robin Thicke number "When I Get You Alone." Big mistake to show him in the video intro performing with Sir Mix-aLot who was singing about big butts. That strikes a terrible note in the heartland. If Blake doesn't make the finale, he can always blame that. He really has grown as a performer and looks really confident on stage. Whatever happens, I bet his first album sells better than their first albums, though that doesn't mean he'll have a longer or more fruitful career -- it's just that he's easier to market out of the box and seems smart enough to make sure he is contemporary. Both Melinda and Jordin will get drenched with sappy anonymous ballads and covers and will probaby shine on later albums when they have more control. Blake seems to know exactly what he wants. Really fun vocals that showcase his singing as good as it can be live and the beatboxing at the end is cool and just the right flourish. He did his best, no matter what. Simon -- who seems to have been subtly pushing for Blake over Jordin-- gives a thumbs up.
MELINDA -- Her fave song is "I'm A Woman," another funky number. The order of her tunes really bothers me. I wish it had been funky number then a ballad then another funky number. As is, the two funky tunes blended together too much. Again, it didn't offer a great vocal range for her, but she performed with flare. The kids all end w a group hug. Why not? They're all going to be recording solo albums soon.
THE WINNERS -- Like everyone, I assume Melinda and Jordin. But darned if I can't stop thinking that Blake would replace...no, not Jordin, but MELINDA. Is that possible? I doubt it. It sure would help if we ever knew the vote totals or at least percentages. It would more likely ruin the fun if we could see say Melinda with a bigger fan base week to week. Simon gives her his stamp of approval as most consistent and she deserves it. And Blake really could supplant Jordin. But I'll stick with the safe bet. Blake had the best night but it'll be the two women in the finals.