Three performers, three songs each, three hometown visits, three judges, one Seacrest, and no Clive Davis this year, and the fact that I'm kind of let down by that last one is troubling indeed. Performance #1: Judges' Choice. Simon chooses "Wishing On A Star" for Jordin, and she performs it while wearing a nightie. I don't know the song from Adam, but there's apparently a discrepancy between the version Jordin performs and the version Simon likes, and this results in some very uncomfortable "banter" between the two of them. It's part of a general trend of Jordin's nervous babbling backfiring on her that will last throughout the evening. Paula chooses for Blake, of course, and it's "Roxanne," which is a cool song and all but not one you can do a whole lot with if you're in a talent competition like this. Blake's great, don't get me wrong, but he's not bringing anything to it. Simon agrees with me and gets yelled at by the mob for doing so. The Governor of Tennessee reads a fax from "Randy Johnson" (hee) telling Melinda to sing "I Believe In You And Me." A more boring Whitney song could not be found, apparently, but this isn't about a song. This is about clearing that imaginary bar that Randy always sets about never attempting Whitney or Mariah. Melinda clears it with ease, as you figured she would, and Simon gives the imaginary "first round" to her.
Performance #2: "Producer's Choice." Formerly "Clive Davis's Songs From The Crypt." Jordin is given Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money," and she performs it in a technically proficient, if low-energy, fashion, though part of that might be due to how she's wearing giant heels and is afraid to bend her legs, lest she fall over like the Redwood she is. Paula's drunk off her ass, by the way, and everybody knows it and laughs at her repeatedly, all night. Blake sings the impeccably chosen "This Love" by Maroon 5 and is all bedroom eyes as he once again electric slides all over the stage. Melinda gets Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," which would probably be the last Ike and Tina song I'd have chosen for her, but Uncle Nigel must know something, because Melinda's phenomenal and the judges flip for her.
Performance #3: Contestant's Choice. Melinda and Jordin both opt for songs they're previously rocked, while Blake tries something new. Which is indicative of how this whole competition has been, I suppose, but I don't care about Blake enough to write that particular essay. Jordin calls "I, Who Have Nothing" back into service, which is smart considering it's still her best performance. It's probably a smidgen less impressive tonight, absent the "Holy crap, can she make that note? ...She can!" factor, but overall it's still a winner. Once again, Jordin's mouth gets her into some awkwardness with Simon, and I choose to blame Ryan Seacrest for all of it, believe it or not. Back in Seattle, Blake and Sir Mix-A-Lot put it down and performed the mother of all shout-outs to Blake's magical ass, before Blake returns to L.A. to perform the only Robin Thicke song I'll ever enjoy, "When I Get You Alone." Once again, a brilliant song choice, and a great performance to match it. Everyone's so good tonight! But then: Melinda brings back "I'm A Woman," and you know how much I loved that the first time around. But Melinda never really connects with it tonight, and the performance suffers a great deal as a result. It's not just the flubbing of some of the words -- she does -- or the dowdy pantsuit; it's not there in her eyes, and I can count on one finger how many times that's happened to her before. The judges don't seem to notice, and I hope to God the voters are too entrenched to care. Simon signs us off by begging us to put Melinda into the final 2 with one of the others, he doesn't really care which. For God's sake, America, give him what he wants. After all that Taylor Hicks nonsense, the man deserves a break.
Previously on American Idol: the last time I recapped this show, we'd just gotten rid of Sanjaya. Sanjaya! Wasn't he on the same season as McKibbin and Jasmine Trias? Anyway, the best Top 6 ever got to stick around for two weeks, before getting whittled down to the best Top 4 ever, and now the best Top 3 ever. I like 'em all, so I'll apologize ahead of time for not calling anyone a stupid, spoiled whore or wailing about how I'll never watch this show again. As we see Melinda, Blake, and Jordin at their makeup tables backstage, Ryan Seacrest reminds us that this is the week where they get to visit their hometowns, and I'm sure that will be as tedious as ever. See? I can be bitchy about some things!
Ryan reminds us about the OCD's paradise that is Top 3 week: three contestants singing three songs apiece, with three phone lines per contestant should you wish to vote, and finally three judges who will try and fail to make sense of it all. Simon's aggressively rubbing Paula's back as they're introduced, no doubt in an attempt to get the alcohol to make its way through her bloodstream quicker. Yes, old-school Paula is back this week, as we'll be sadly reminded at every turn. Ryan tells us that the contestants will be singing one judges-chosen song, one chosen by the "producers" (Clive Davis being unable to leave his hyperbaric chamber long enough to pick for himself), and then the final song will be the respective contestant's "favorite song." Whatever that means. The mere fact that Blake doesn't sing a 311 cover of a Mighty Mighty Bosstones song tells us that's probably not an entirely true statement.
First up is Jordin, who we see in Glendale as the mayor fakely receives a fake fax from fake Simon instructing Jordin that her Judge's Choice song will be "Wishing On A Star" by Rose Royce. Jordin isn't really very convincing with her wide-eyed, overly animated "a fax from Simon??" reactions, but then again, neither am I. We're thankfully spirited away from Glendale for the time being and onto the stage, where Jordin meets us with her hair all curly and fabulous. The empire-waisted little number she's got on looks more "nightie" than "dress" on her seven-foot-three frame, but otherwise she's every bit the glamazon she always is. I'm not sure I've ever heard this song before, but I like what Jordin's doing with it. The jazzy arrangement suits her -- I don't think we've seen her perform in this laid-back/cool style since probably "Give Me One Reason" back in the first week of semi-finals. I don't remember being too impressed by this performance on first glance, and even now my socks remain resolutely un-knocked-off, but it's really a very solid rendition. The best Jordin performances manage to both showcase her youth and also make her seem beyond her years, if that makes sense. This performance does that.