OK, this is a tough one. For the first time all season, I find it incredibly hard to choose an obvious person to eliminate from "American Idol." Yes, I realize this puts me in spiritual kinship with Paula Abdul. No, I'm not ashamed.
There was Jordin, whom I considered the clear frontrunner before this week. She's incredibly appealing, but she has a way of sounding like a 47-year-old trapped in a 17-year-old's body. Her reprise rendition of "I Who Have Nothing" only solidified her image as an old, old soul. And tonight, the producers didn't help, either: "She Works Hard for the Money"? Really? She's supposed to have that in her emotional repertoire when she's still doing trigonometry homework? I wish she'd culled another hit from the Gwen Stefani catalogue, instead.
Then there was Blake. I've made no secret of the fact that he makes my toes curl, but I'm a realist when it comes to "Idol." Conventional wisdom says he's the most vulnerable one, since he's the weakest pure singer of the three. But I think the Fanjayas and the ChrisRichardsonjayas and the PhilStaceyjayas might be formidable voting blocs, and they might be in his favor. His biggest problem is that he didn't deliver an earth-shattering surprise tonight. I was praying that he would make the earth shake with "Roxanne," but he didn't. Like Simon, I preferred his take on Robin Thicke to his Maroon Five cover. I was leading my elementary-school-aged nieces in "Go Blake" cheers tonight, but in my heart of hearts I have to admit that I wasn't jumping out of my chair, yo.
On the other hand, I think this is the first night in a long time - maybe ever - that I really liked Melinda. She was uncharacteristically sassy on the Ike and Tina Turner song, and I wasn't bothered by her reprise of "Woman," given that sweet little tribute to backup singers. Still, I was a bit surprised at how hard Simon was gunning for her at the end. It almost felt as if he were trying to steer people away from Jordin. From the standpoint of a record-sales endgame, that doesn't mae much sense.
As I said, I find it tough to handicap here. In my heart of hearts I'd say Blake is most vulnerable, but I wouldn't be shocked if Jordin left instead, and I'm curious to hear what everyone else thinks. Due to technical issues here in New York, where I'm still on upfront duty, we might be delaying the weekly "Idol" chat until Thursday at 1. I'll keep you posted here about the plans. But I'll gladly take e-mails from Idolites with strong preferences and/or crystal balls.
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsKatie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.