Here we are folks, down to the Top Three. Yep, I can't believe it's almost over either.
Like in previous seasons, the remaining contestants sang three songs. One was chosen by one of the judges, another by the producers (though in the past RCA head honcho Clive Davis had this role), and the third by the singers themselves. Also like past contestants, the Top Three briefly went to their respective hometowns for a day and received the royal treatment. Parades were thrown in their honor, they got to meet the mayor, etc. A street was named after Melinda, Jordin received a star in the mall where she used to work, and Blake beatboxed with Sir Mix-A-Lot.
What really intrigued me about last night's episode was that for once there was hardly any BS filler. I was astonished when Ryan announced Jordin's performance immediately after introducing the judges. Also, there wasn't a 5-minute video recap of each person's homecoming footage. For the most part, it was just one performance after the other. I was pleasantly surprised.
At this point it's really hard to grade the contestants. In my book, none of them get anything lower than a B. All deserve to be in the Top Three, and really it's now a matter of who has the most fans — or rather, whose fans vote the most.
Ya know, I've always wondered how the judges decide on which contestant to offer which song choice. Do they draw straws? Rock paper scissors? Eeny meeny miney moe? Guess we'll never know. Anywho, the contestants received their song assignment via a fax sent to the mayor or governor of their hometown (whichever politician they met).
Paula chose the Police's "Roxanne" for Blake, which I thought was interesting since Blake's face always reminded me of Sting. Mercifully he played it straight and didn't beatbox, but I wasn't crazy about his vocals. Randy and Paula liked it, but Simon couldn't help but compare it to the Police, and naturally the original artists were better.
Simon chose Jordin's song, which was "Wishing on a Star." I thought it was pretty good, but it didn't make me sit up and take notice. Randy thought it was a very good vocal and was Beyoncé-like, but ironically Simon didn't like it, particularly the jazz arrangement.
Oddly enough, Randy chose Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me" for Melinda, breaking the cardinal, unwritten AI rule that no one should sing a Whitney song except for Whitney. Naturally, Randy had to remind everyone that he worked with Whitney in the studio. Seriously — can his head be any bigger? I had to laugh when the governor's (or is it mayor's?) wife called him "Randy Johnson." I thought it was pretty boring, but all three judges loved it. Simon awarded Round 1 to Melinda.
As I mentioned, in the past these songs were chosen by Clive Davis. However, this year he left the task to the producers. I guess the old man preferred to stay in his sarcophagus and count his money. To be honest though, I feel that their song choices were better than the judges'.
Jordin sang Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," which was better than the first performance but still wasn't that great. It's an upbeat song, but she didn't really move around much on stage. Randy enjoyed it, but once again Simon didn't care for the arrangement.
I thought it was odd at first for the producers to choose a rock song for Melinda, until I found out later that it was a Tina Turner song. She sang "Nut Bush City Limits" and vocally was wonderful as usual. Simon said that he loved that side of her.
When Ryan announced that Blake was singing Maroon 5's "This Love," I knew immediately that it was the perfect song choice for him. It has his name written all over it. Not only was it infinitely better than the first performance, but he looked more comfortable on stage. Paula said, "This is a good night for you," while Simon said that it wasn't a copycat performance. In the end, Simon awarded Round 2 to Blake and Melinda.
The ladies chose songs that they previously sung in the show. I'm not sure what to think. On one hand, I feel it's a cop-out since they had sung them before and weren't challenging themselves. On the other hand, it's clever since they picked songs from their strongest performances that were sure to please the judges and the audience.
Jordin sang "I, Who Have Nothing" and it was as terrific as the first time she performed this piece. Randy said it was her best song of the night, while Simon grumbled that it was a very old-fashioned song and performance.
Blake sang Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone" and once again it was the right song choice for him. Not quite as good as "This Love," but it still suited him well. Like me, Randy preferred his earlier performance, but Simon said, "I actually really liked that."
Melinda closed the show with "I'm a Woman," which she sang perfectly in the past and performed perfectly again last night. Randy was pleased that he's seeing different ranges of Melinda's vocal abilities and is convinced she can sing anything. Simon said that if he were to reward someone a place in the finals, it would be someone who has been consistently good throughout the competition, meaning Melinda.
My thoughts: Unless all of Melinda's fans have developed carpal tunnel and can't use a phone, I think it's pretty safe to say that she's going to be in next week's finale. As for the other two, I'm hesitant to take a guess. On one hand, Jordin deserves to be in the Top Two, as she's vocally superior to Blake. However, I think that Blake has more fans and is the better entertainer. I would buy Jordin's CD, but I would watch Blake in concert. I really can't guess who is going home tonight, but I'm going to say Jordin because Blake may have the upper hand in terms of fans.
Who will be going home: Jordin
Who should be going home: no one