With two spots and three more-than-worthy contestants, "American Idol" has officially entered nail-biting territory.
Is it going to be Jordin, the 17-year-old wunderkind with the soaring voice and tendency to gesture so madly when Ryan's listing her voting phone number that she looks like she's signing to a partially blind person in the audience?
Blake, the hipster with better dance moves than probably any other guy in the history of the show, who has managed to prove that he's more than just "that guy who beat boxes"?
Or Melinda, the former backup singer who never seems to miss a note and has finally learned how to abandon the "you really like me" faces?
Tuesday night's show, in which each contestant sang three numbers — one that the judges picked, another that was the producers' choice and a third that was their own selection — didn't help narrow down the competition very much. Because, you see, they were all quite excellent.
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While Jordin looked nervous for essentially the first time all season when Simon didn't give her raves, she was actually pretty solid all night — especially on "I Who Have Nothing" (her choice), which she actually sang earlier in the season.
Although Blake, with his elongated vowels, sounded a bit too much like a Sting impersonator on "Roxanne" (Paula's choice), he rocked Maroon 5's "This Love" (producers' selection) with the perfect amount of beat boxing and did an equally impressive job on a Robin Thicke song.
And it should surprise no one to hear that the consummately professional Melinda didn't miss a step, on any of her numbers.
Only the judges seemed to fall a bit short. Paula was way too proud of herself for coming up with the "joke" that Jordin "works hard for her money" after her Donna Summer number of the same name — a sort of painfully obvious comment that no one over the age of, say, 6, should really be considering a joke.
Randy said "That was hot" so much that the three words seemed to lose their meaning entirely. He also managed to take his predilection for name-dropping to new levels when he informed the governor of Tennessee (by fax) that he had worked with Whitney Houston.
Simon was the lone judge on top of his game, asking Ryan if he was drunk with impeccable comic timing and managing to do more than just lazily praise the final three like his fellow judges.
I'm thus going to go ahead and back Simon's favorite, "Melinder," but mostly just wait for the inevitable drama Wednesday night's results show promises to bring.
"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of FOXNews.com.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.
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