Well, the contestants put on a fine show last night! I was relieved that the producers picked songs for the contestants this year.
ROUND ONE - Judges' Pick
Jordin - Wishing on a Star - Picked by Simon Cowell
I was really excited when Jordin started out singing in her head voice...yeaaa! I like that softer part of her voice when she sings in her higher register and I think it gives her more room to interpret the song rather than pushing her chest voice too high. Jordin continues to have problems with her lowest notes because, at 17, that part of her voice is not fully developed as yet. I had a little difficulty understanding some of the words at times, but other than the lower notes, it was fine vocally. I heard no strain in her voice on this song and it resonated very well, especially in the high parts. While Simon didn't care for the jazzy arrangement, I think it saved the song from being boring - a nice, if subdued start for Miss Jordin tonight.
Blake - Roxanne - Picked by Paula Abdul
I did think this was a great song choice for Blake. It was a good vocal and he got an opportunity to show his upper range without using falsetto. Nice! It sounded like he was a tad under pitch a few times, but that could have been the reverb, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that. He could have done more with the performance aspect, but this was definitely one of my favorite vocals from Blake.
Melinda - I Believe in You and Me - Picked by Randy Jackson
During the first measure of the song I thought she sounded nervous, but then the calm, collected Melinda took over and she sailed through from there. When she hit the big key change she was truly in her comfort zone and just let her vocal rip from there until the end...some wonderful wailing going on there folks. This was the first time I've heard Melinda use her headvoice and, of course, she used it correctly. The song was very touching and sweet, and the emotional vibrato on the last note capped off another stunning performance by the amazing Miss Doolittle.
ROUND TWO - Producers' Pick
Jordin - She Works Hard For The Money
The volume difference between Jordin's lower register and high register were very apparent in this song. I would have picked a song with less low voice in it so it could have been smoother. She did a good job with it, but not a great job. I was perplexed at this song choice for Jordin - an old disco era song for a young gal - I just didn't get it. I would have loved to hear Jordin sing something more contemporary and in line with today's youth...because that is what she IS, isn't she? Of course, Jordin didn't get to pick this one so she had no control over it...I liked it, but didn't love it.
Blake - This Love
I fear for Blake's neck at times...he keeps snapping his head to the right throughout this song and I find myself distracted by that motion. Why doesn't Blake smile? I don't know if it was nerves or what last night, but his facial expressions rarely changed during his performances. Vocally, it sounded a little under pitch again (without the reverb this time), and it got sort of breathless sounding toward the end. The beat box was well placed and not overdone this time...a little can go a long way. This was just "aw-ite" for me, and I liked his first song much better.
Melinda - Nutbush City Limits
Now THERE is a shocking song choice... sweet timid Melinda singing "Nutbush City Limits?" You betcha! I think Melinda had the best time she's ever had on that stage with this song. The girl can grind her voice, making it gritty and believable for a song such as this one. She stomped, she wailed, she made me want to go there. I didn't think growth was possible for Melinda, but this performance blew that away for me. Vocally, it was a superb interpretation and, performance-wise, I think it was her best yet. The tiger is back!
ROUND THREE - Contestants' Pick
Jordin - I Who Have Nothing
Blake - When I Get You Alone
Like one of his songs last week, Blake almost missed his entrance to this song and was a little behind the music for two or three measures. I wasn't familiar with this song but it is one of those wordy pieces that requires a staccato precision to get them out. He managed to get all of the words in, but I had a lot of trouble understanding what he was singing. I thought it got almost a frantic feeling at one point. I think Blake felt tremendous pressure tonight being up against the two divas. But you know what; Blake has remained true to himself throughout this competition and is truly the most original contestant ever on the show. For that, I applaud him.
Jordin gives good face again in her encore performance of this song! She has beautiful facial expressions that go well with the meaning of the songs she sings. I thought this was BETTER than the first time she sang it. She utilized her fast vibrato on shorter notes, but I was very pleased to hear her getting more control of it on longer notes and holding a straight tone throughout...that is great progress for Jordin! Overall, I give her lots of credit for improving the control of her voice to get where she is in this competition. VERY nicely done!
Melinda - I'm A Woman
This gal just knows her stuff. Even though this was another oldie-goldie song, I thought she blew the roof off with her interpretation of it. I loved how she drew out the consonant 'n' several times to emphasize the word womaNNNNNN. She also had the backup singers come forward toward the end...a fitting tribute to all of the backup singers out there, and a splendid display of Melinda being at the FRONT of the stage now. If for any strange reason Melinda goes home tonight, she will have so many offers she won't know what to do with them. She's set for life, no matter what the outcome.
As Ryan says...THIS is American Idol. And anything can happen!