"This. Is. The. Hard. Part," Ryan Seacrest said just before he announced who'll be missing out on next week's finale. He called out Jordin Sparks' name first, guaranteeing her return. Then, standing by Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle, he asked: "Will it be girl-girl? Guy-girl?" Blake, clearly giving way to nerves and trying to toss out a joke about his beat-boxing style, stammered a non-answer: "Girl, machine – machine..."
But Melinda, who never seemed to sing a note that was mechanical or calculated for effect, was the one voted off, and the human synthesizer gets to stay. There were boos from the studio audience, and Simon – Melinda's most vocal champion throughout the season – told her: "My commiserations, Melinda, because you are one heck of a singer."
Indeed, she is. And she was in top form on Tuesday's show. But if this comes as a serious disappointment, does it really come as a shock? A 29-year-old backup singer without all that much interest in recent pop? Melinda could have been expected to come up against a massive wall in this sort of competition. If she sang flawlessly, she could seem like a vintage performer being magically beamed onto the Idol stage from an old variety show.
To his credit, Blake also happened to be in good form Tuesday night, singing the Police and Robin Thicke. (Which, on Idol, is cutting edge.) There was never much dispute that he was the strongest male singer of the season, and he's proven that.
Maybe voters just wanted to tune in to a guy-girl contest, not a girl-girl one.
The uptick of the night's outcome is that Jordin now has a strong chance to win against Blake. She's less consistent, but she packs a lot more emotion into a ballad than he does and with a lot less fuss.
Here's looking forward to her success.
For more from last night, see AOL's Idol coverage.