Eye on ‘Idol’: Sizing up the final three

[15 May 2007]

By Hunter Hauk

The Dallas Morning News (MCT)

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks

On Tuesday night’s “American Idol,” we’ll see make-or-break performances by the final three contestants. Wednesday we’ll find out which two will go head to head in next week’s finale. Let’s take one last look at each of the remaining singers before things get crazy:

MELINDA DOOLITTLE
Age: 29
Hometown: Brentwood, Tennessee
Fun fact: She went to the first “Idol” audition just to kill time with friends.
Strength: She’s never sung a bad note, which probably has something to do with her vast experience recording background vocals for the likes of Aaron Neville, Jonny Lang and CeCe Winans.
Weakness: While her performances are technically perfect, she seems to have a hard time connecting with the audience and judges on an emotional level.
Best performance: “Home,” from “The Wiz.” She started small and ended huge.
Worst performance: “There Will Come a Day.” Faith Hill songs should be banned.
Can she win? Maybe, but can you see yourself buying a Melinda Doolittle album? It’s a question you have to ask yourself, voter.

BLAKE LEWIS
Age: 25
Hometown: Bothell, Washington
Fun fact: Videos of pre-“Idol” Blake are all over YouTube. One particular clip shows him walking around a music festival as his alter-ego, Jimmie Walker Blue.
Strength: He dresses, moves and sings like he’s already No. 1 on the pop charts. Contemporary with a capital “C.”
Weakness: His voice isn’t strong enough, and his love for beatboxing is too strong. Oh, and he has a really weird mouth.
Best performance: “Time of the Season,” because he can sing the line “What’s your name/who’s your daddy” like nobody else.
Worst performance: “You Should be Dancing.” It gave beatboxing a ba-a-a-a-a-ad name.
Can he win? Oh, most certainly. But don’t complain to us when you get tired of seeing that cute little twirly-dance. We already warned everyone.

JORDIN SPARKS
Age: 17
Hometown: Glendale, Arizona
Fun fact: Her father, Phillippi Sparks, played football for the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.
Strength: We could go on all day. Youthful energy, tremendous pipes, emotional understanding beyond her years. The total package, really.
Weakness: If you can’t handle bubbly, you can’t handle Jordin. She’s often a giggle short of spastic.
Best performance: “A Broken Wing.” Not only her best, but the best from anyone all season.
Worst performance: “Livin’ on a Prayer.” She just picked the wrong Bon Jovi song. It happens to all of us.
Can she win? Yep, and she probably will.

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BEST OF THE BEST

Here are our 10 favorite past “Idol” contestants, a mix of obvious choices and dark horses.

1. Kelly Clarkson: Season 1 winner set the “Idol” standard not only for chart and touring success, but she refused to become a cookie-cutter pop star. People continue to doubt her artistic decisions, such as the rock-heavy sound of new single “Never Again,” but they’ve obviously forgotten the payoff of past risks like “Since U Been Gone” and “Walk Away.”

2. Chris Daughtry: However Creed-a-licious this guy might have been during Season 5, he’s surpassed all expectations with his band’s debut self-titled album. He brings a warm pop sensibility to the arms-wide-open style of rock, which is just what it needed.

3. Carrie Underwood: People who called her a “Fembot” were pretty surprised when she pulled out the win in Season 4, but she’s had a lot more fun with her post-“Idol” music and established what will likely be a permanent spot in country’s upper echelon. You’ve sung along to “Before He Cheats,” and you damn-well know it.

4. Jennifer Hudson: Two words: Academy Award. This former Season 3 contestant single-handedly made an otherwise shaky “Dreamgirls” film relevant, with her jaw-dropping performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” No matter what she does from here on out, nobody can take that moment of sheer brilliance away.

5. Elliott Yamin: He hasn’t made many waves after taking third place in Season 5, but he ranks high on the list for his unbelievably great performances during the show. We haven’t seen a performer transform into something great like that in the current season, and it’s a shame.

6. Fantasia Barrino: Two performances during her winning Season 3 put her on this list: Her sizzling, iconic rendition of “Summertime” and her first crack at that year’s “Idol” single, “I Believe.” We’ve still got goosebumps.

7. Clay Aiken: He made an otherwise dull Season 2 interesting by briefly standing in the way of a seemingly unstoppable Ruben Studdard. Plus, he started the trend of the show’s loser outperforming the winner in the real world.

8. Constantine Maroulis: He made love to the camera throughout Season 4. It was both sensational and disturbing.

9. Bo Bice: The first Idol contestant to perform a cappella in the final stages of the competition. And also the hairiest “Idol” ever. Take that, Sanjaya!

10. William Hung: No explanation necessary.

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WATCH IT

“American Idol” airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT and Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox.

Each remaining contestant will have three songs to perform Tuesday night, including one favorite encore performance from the season.

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HUNTER’S GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

Next week, read all about Eye On “Idol” columnist Hunter Hauk’s experience attending the red-carpet arrivals event and finale extravaganza at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. He’ll also be blogging at www.quickdfw.com/blog.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/eye-on-idol-sizing-up-the-final-three/