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Posted by on May 17, 2007 in Arts & Entertainment | 21 comments

The end of Melinda Doolittle

(Sign of the Apocalypse #46 at The Reaction.)

I’ll admit it. I’ve watched pretty much all of American Idol this season. And it has been clear for a long time that the best of them all, by a lot, was Melinda Doolittle. Sure, she had her neuroses. Sure, she seemed a bit old, or old-fashioned. Sure, she didn’t always seem to reach the high standard she had set for herself with some exceptional early performances. But compare her to the rest of the mediocre top ten. Or compare her to Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks, the other two of the final three. Jordin is young and raw, and has a great voice, if one that she has not always been able to control and that lacks precision. Blake is genuinely likeable, and did quite well with the beatboxing routine, but he has little to no range, seems cold and detached, and has been inconsistent. And Melinda? She was the consummate professional, an artist, the one who got it, the one who wasn’t just acting, the one who truly seemed to belong on that stage. And now, yes, now she’s done, voted out by the American people, leaving us with two amateurs, whatever their respective talents, to compete for the title.

It’s all a big joke, was my response upon hearing Ryan Seacrest announce last night that it was the end of the line for Melinda. And I stand by that. It’s one thing for someone like Sanjaya to make it far. He was a joke, and viewers were laughing at him even if they were voting for him. And of course it’s hardly to be expected that there would be much talent even in the top ten. It must be remembered, after all, that American Idol is a singing, beauty, and showmanship competition for amateurs. Most of it, even in the final weeks, is nothing but glorified karaoke, a shameless popularity contest. But this is what set Melinda apart. And, probably, why she didn’t win. She was above it all. One week the judges even lamented that they had nothing bad to say about her. In the end, that’s not the sort of idol Americans — or at least those who vote, vote, and vote again — want. She was too much of a sure thing.

Still, Melinda has proven herself. What does it matter that she didn’t win it all? She was too good for American Idol anyway.

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