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American Idol: Down to Three

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The last three contestants on American Idol fought for a place in the finale last night. Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle sang three songs each: one picked by a judge, one picked by the producers and one of their own choosing.

Of course, to fill the hour, the show followed the contestants back to their respective hometowns. Uber-perky-to-the-point-of-annoying Jordin traveled back to Glendale, Ariz., where her local mall was mobbed by fans. (Can’t you just picture her as a sales girl at Forever 21?) Simon chose her first song, Rose Royce’s “Wishing on a Star,” which had this weird jazzy arrangement that took away from her vocals. She didn’t do much better with a boring rendition of “She Works Hard for the Money” – and for the life of us, we couldn’t figure out why she’d choose the torchy “I Who Have Nothing.” She’s 17 years old – sing us something from this century for Pete’s sake.

Blake lathered up a Bothell, Wash., crowd who ate up his beatboxing to “Baby Got Back” – a duet of sorts with Sir Mix-a-Lot. But for his first song last night, Paula chose “Roxanne” by The Police. And Blake showed the world why it’s so hard to do Sting. He was a little off key and seemed to strain his voice when singing the “Raaaaaxaane” part. He did better with Maroon 5’s “This Love,” but just couldn’t resist the urge to throw in a few beats. Please, sometimes just sing us the song. For his own song choice, he sang “When I Get You Alone” by Robin Thicke. It was good, but we’re not sure if R&B is really his thing.

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And finally, Melinda went home to Nashville. The highlight of the evening was watching the old governor of Tennessee reading Randy’s message and song choice, fo shnizzle. Now if you’ve ever watched AI, you know that doing Whitney Houston is a no no, but Randy wanted to challenge her with a difficult vocal: “I Believe in You and Me." Melinda did a good job, though we didn’t like it quite as much as the judges. She tackled “Nutbush City Limits” next and did the song justice – and bonus points because Tina Turner is another hard performer to cover. But we do fault Melinda for singing a choice she sang earlier this season: “I’m a Woman.” Couldn’t she have picked something new?

Well, tonight around 9:59 PM, we’ll find out who the two 2007 AI finalists are. We suspect it will come down to Melinda and Blake. But you never know how America votes [insert GW Bush joke here]...

(AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)