Melinda Doolittle

was

voted off "American Idol" last night, leaving Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis the finalists. Ellen Gray & Jonathan Takiff weigh in.

WHY SHE GOT THE BOOT

Ellen: Best singer, but she skewed a bit old.

Jon: A guarded personality and not enough teen appeal blew it for this year's best singer.

WHO WE'D HAVE SENT HOME

Ellen: Blake. But only because I really wanted to hear those two big voices fight it out.

Jon: I've been throwing darts at Blake for weeks, but has America listened? The show's music director and sound engineer have often felt compelled to "enhance" his vocals with echo and backup singers. Why? Because he's just not a strong singer.

WE JUDGE THE JUDGES

Ellen: Let's see, Simon - Melinda can sing oldies, but Jordin can't? Blake's a copycat the one time he plays it straight, but Jordin's at fault for trying anything new? Even Goldilocks finally found a happy medium.

Jon: It looked like Simon's agenda Tuesday was sacrifice Jordin to save Melinda. And Paula needs to hire a better ghost writer. "I love you, I love you, I love you" and "It's like you're in the spotlight," ain't cuttin' it, ditsy doll.

WATER-COOLER WHINE

Ellen: Three songs apiece for the contestants cut down a bit on the increasingly unpleasant Simon-Ryan bickering - beyond Cowell's demand to know if Seacrest were drunk - but I'll be happy to take a long break from it.

Jon: Did you notice that two out of nine song selections this week were about, ahem, "working" women - "Roxanne" and "She Works Hard for the Money?" What kind of message are we sending young viewers? *

Pick up Tuesday's Daily News for a full-color poster of the "American Idol" finalists.