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'Idol chat': Will the best singer win?

Pop music critic Dan DeLuca joins Inquirer TV maven David Hiltbrand in discussing the penultimate showdown.

Melinda Doolittle, one of the three finalists, rode in a car past fans
at Belmont University in Nashville on Friday. She's a
1999 graduate of Belmont.
Melinda Doolittle, one of the three finalists, rode in a car past fans at Belmont University in Nashville on Friday. She's a 1999 graduate of Belmont.Read moreMark Humphrey / Associated Press

David Hiltbrand: Hello again. Today we are honored to be joined by the voice of authority, Dan DeLuca, the Inquirer's august music critic. Welcome, Dan. What did you think of American Idol last night?

Dan DeLuca: Hey there Mr. Hiltbrand. Good afternoon, Idolators. Before last night, I had watched about 15 minutes of the show this season. I knew about Antonella Barba's Internet photos and Sanjaya's hair, but that was about it. But I kept myself blissfully ignorant of the three finalists who sang last night. When it was over, I was impressed by one of them.

David Hiltbrand: Which one impressed you?

Dan DeLuca: Melinda. She was clear winner, I'd have to say.

David Hiltbrand: Well, yeah but only because the deck is stacked. The judges wanted to crown her last night. Why wait for the finals? She creeps me out. I think they were sabotaging Jordin. I mean, seriously, Donna Summers?

Dan DeLuca: Bad song selection for Jordin, I'd agree, but she sang "I (Who Have Nothing)" of her own accord. I kinda like that song, but it's cheesily old-fashioned, as Simon said. Though it's not quite 60 years old - Ben E. King had a hit with it in 1963. Melinda seemed legit to me. Jordin was tentative. Blake is a lightweight.

David Hiltbrand: That is the weirdest Ben E King ever. I think that was during his Romanoff stage. But I have to say, I haven't been a big fan of Blake's but I thought his Maroon 5 performance last night was the best he's done so far.

Dan DeLuca: The Maroon 5 thing was OK. Not bad. The version of Roxanne he opened with was bad wedding singer stuff. (Though he can hit more of the high notes than Sting, these days.) And what did Simon mean when he said that people who cover the Police always end up doing an impression "on" Sting?

Job: I feel Melinda has the presence and the maturity to make it big and attract a following that crosses several generations.

Dan DeLuca: That could happen with the right songs and the right push, i suppose. i think all three of them could have hits, with the Idol machine behind them.

Michael: Dan, which pop singers do Melinda, Blake and Jordin bring to mind?

Dan DeLuca: Hmm, that's a good question. The Maroon 5 choice made sense because he sort of reminded me of Adam Levine, with highlights in his hair and goofy epaulets on his sweater, and a little less soul. Melinda is more like an old-timer, an Etta James style growler.

Dan DeLuca: My favorite part of the show, I have to add, was when Simon asked Seacrest "Are you drunk?" Do those guys love each other, or hate each other?

David Hiltbrand: They scratch and claw every week. It's some kind of weird sibling rivalry thing, with Ryan as the disgruntled little brother who can run faster.

Dan DeLuca: I loved that look that Simon gave him when Ryan said that he had a "musical crush" on Blake.

Michael P: Dan, who is your pick to win the whole thing?

Dan DeLuca: On the basis of ability, I'd say Melinda. But does ability really count? My guess is that Blake will be the txt msgers' favorite.

Blakefan: Dan, Blake's already got one of the top ring tones. You don't think he's the real deal?

Dan DeLuca: He's smooth, I'll give him that. It's funny: I watched it last night with a bunch of friends who I tortured by forcing them to watch AI rather than the Phillies. When Blake did the Maroon 5 song, I said that this was better than the Police cover because it was more in keeping with who he is. My friend Luke said, "What's that? Talentless? Bland? Unimaginative?"

David Hiltbrand: Tough crowd. They must have howled when he did that Robin Thicke number. I hope he wins so he can rid of those thrift shop pants he's been wearing all season.

Dan DeLuca: Really. Though I can't say I was much impressed with any of their fashion choices, including Seacrest's gray suit. What is he, an insurance salesman? I did like the way Melinda wound up with her hair in her mouth after "Nutbush City Limits" though.

David Hiltbrand: Then you would have loved LaKisha. She swallowed about two pounds of weave with every song. One question: If Blake is bland, what does that make Melinda? Antimatter? She's got all the charisma of Florence Henderson.

Dan DeLuca: That's cold. So if she's Florence Henderson, does that make Blake Marcia Brady? I didn't find her to be all that bland. Seemed like a woman of substance to me. She held your attention with her voice.

Michael P: My opinion is that Melinda will win, Blake should win, and Jordin will be disqualified.

Dan DeLuca: Michael, I like your conspiracy thinking. The word is that you're a big Blake fan. Why will they disqualify Jordin? For goofy spelling of her own name?

David Hiltbrand: I believe the results are fixed. The producers and the judges clearly want Melinda to win And I think they'll get what they want next week. Final thoughts, Dan?

Dan DeLuca: I predict Jordin gets jettisoned tonight, and Blake wins next week. I'm shocked that you would think that such an august institution as AI would have the fix in. That would be un-American. This has almost enough fun to make me wish I had watched the show every week. Well, not really.

Florence Henderson: I can buy and sell you charisma-stuffed losers. Send me a postcard from Fishtown.

David: This brings another jolly week of Idol Chat to a close. Thank you, Dan. Florence, we'll be in touch.