Is this a picture of your American Idol top two? We’ll find out tonight, but last night’s episode–during which Blake got the chance to perform two songs that were recorded during this millennium, and Jordin nearly had an onstage tantrum–made us think that the beatboxing wonder may have some life in this competition yet. And don’t worry: We’re just as surprised as you are.
Last night’s episode was a crisp run through nine songs–three from each contestant, with one each picked by the judges, the producers, and the Idol hopefuls themselves. In each group of three, Jordin was up first, Blake went second, and Melinda closed things out, so let’s look at the three contestants’ performances in that order:
MMM-BLAH: First up was Jordin, who started off with a pretty weak version of “Wishing On A Star,” which showcased all of the most annoying things about her voice’s inability to stay on pitch in the higher registers. While Randy and Paula liked it, Simon was lukewarm–even though the song was his pick. Intentional sabotage? We weren’t going to believe it until we heard the producers’ pick for her second song–Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard For The Money.” Because, you know, a 17-year-old football player’s daughter who has been groomed for pop stardom for her entire adolescence can completely relate to 9-to-5ers! Seriously, she should have done “Mmmbop,” which she revealed as her favorite song during the between-segments interview–at least it would have been believably lively. Jordin closed out with a storming reprise of “I (Who Have Nothing),” which she sang during British Invasion week–and it was fine, although the oh-so-serious track, combined with her prommy gown, caused the word “pageanty” to float into our heads again. And did anyone else get Antonella Barba “but you’re supposed to love me” flashbacks when she feebly tried to defend herself to Simon?
BLAKE TURNS TIME FORWARD So we weren’t really expecting much from Blake last night. He had to open with “Roxanne,” which is a tough feat to accomplish without sounding like you’re impersonating Sting or Eddie Murphy, as his first song, and he wound up going the Sting-impersonation route with middling results. But his last two performances put him where he was pretty comfortable–in the 2000s–and he actually sounded completely radio-ready. And–dare we say it?–we didn’t even hate the beatboxing, although it worked better on Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone” than on his cover of Maroon 5′s “This Love.” (Possibly important note: Our affection for Blake’s performances last night could have been heightened by the fact that “When I Get You Alone” is smack in the middle of our “top 100 singles of the past five years” list. Although Jordin’s not being very good helped, too. And we still hate the improv comedy/a capella college thing.)
SIMON LUVS MELINDA, ALTHOUGH WE AREN’T CRAZY ABOUT HER STYLIST: While we weren’t crazy about the big Whitney ballad Randy selected for Melinda, she handled it well–even the parts in the higher register. But her last two songs–”Nutbush City Limits” and a reprise of “I’m A Woman”–that showed off her ability to completely stomp a song into her own image, and have an absolute blast while doing so. What we especially loved was the moment when she gave the backing vocalists their own moment during “Woman”–it was a nice way for her to tip the cap to her past. If only she didn’t wear a gray suit during that workout; the outfit sort of made her look like she’d been stuck working hard for the money late, and had to race to the stage to give her performance.
WHO WE VOTED FOR: All the contestants who weren’t named Jordin.
WHO AMERICA WILL PROBABLY CUT: We have no idea, although it probably won’t be Melinda. There are rumors out there that the powers that be have already determined Blake as the next victim, but after last night’s complete botching of Jordin’s song choices by both the producers and Simon, we’re not so sure.
PAULA ABDUL OUT-OF-IT SCALE: 9.89999/10. Will she faint under the table at the climax of next week’s finale? Luckily, we’ll be liveblogging it, so you’ll know right away.