Thursday, May 17, 2007
Well, unfortunately, my sad prediction at the start of American Idol last night came true. Just as I feared, Melinda Doolittle got voted off the show.

When it came down to her and Blake at the end, you could see it in Blake's eyes. He knew that he would be going home. And he was okay with that. He knew that he was in the presence of a truly great singer and he knew that he'd done his best.

However, when it turned out that Melinda was going home instead, you could see the shock even in the eyes of Blake's number one fan, his dad. I am sure he was tremendously happy and excited for his son but I don't think anyone expected Melinda to not be in the final two.

Melinda is an incredible singer. You can give her any song and she will absolutely 100% knock it out of the ballpark as far as technical singing ability. A person could listen to her all day and not be disappointed. If she so chooses (and I wonder whether she really will), Melinda will have a very solid career and probably, as third place contestant, even has some opportunity to launch her career faster and better than the other two.

So, why did I feel that she'd be going home?

The other two have "star appeal" that, regardless of their talents, I knew the American public was going to gravitate to. Jordin, also a very solid singer who can do a lot with just about any song, has a bubbly personality that gives her huge charisma. People like that. We also know she's only seventeen though she sings and acts much older. Younger folks aspire to that.

Blake may not have quite the singing ability of the other two, nor actually the charisma of Jordin, but he has a uniqueness you cannot deny. Could I listen to an entire CD of him? I'm not sure. If he mixed it up enough, perhaps. But he has shown again and again a great ability to take a song, mix it up a bit, and create something hip and fresh. I like that.

If you've been following the show, you may recall a few segments ago when Simon encouraged Melinda to stop acting so humble and surprised when she stayed on the show at the end of each week. Prior to that, she had had this very cute doe-eyed look of utter surprise and humility when she got enough votes to stay in the running. So, she followed Simon's instructions. She still stayed very humble and nice but gone from each show was that coy look of surprise. Honestly, I think that following Simon's advice was her death knell on the show. When she quit giving us that look at the end of each show, she became just another contestant hoping to ride things to the end. Before that, though, she had a uniqueness and a youthful, naive quality where it looked like she was completely unaware of her own talent. America wanted to assure her that she indeed was talented. It is part of our DNA to, when we see someone who doesn't seem to feel quite okay, want to make them feel okay -- give them reassurance.

You could tell it all season -- Simon really likes her and thinks she is hugely talented. He tried to coach her and say little things that would keep her until the end. I think he, too, suspected that perhaps she didn't have the charisma or the feshness to make it to the end but yet he knew she was the best singer.

In this case, though, I believe that Simon's advice ruined things for Melinda. He took away the one special attribute she had beyond that ability to consistently deliver incredible performances. He took away her coyness, her naivety -- things that I believe America would have rallied around and kept her to the very end for.

Sorry, Simon, I know you were trying to help but I think you blew it for the contestant you loved so much.

  posted at 5:14 AM  


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Todd M


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