Neither Melinda Doolittle's superior musical talent nor her "Death Cheater" shirt could keep her chances of winning American Idol alive on Wednesday.

Which leaves the two cuter but less substantive competitors still in the running for the top prize: NFL cornerback's daughter Jordin Sparks and beat-boxing song-and-dance man Blake Lewis. They'll face off in the final Idol smack down next week.

Blake and Jordin's performances couldn't measure up to Melinda's on the show on Tuesday – the Tennessee native threw down most convincingly on "Nutbush City Limits," She also delivered an "I'm A Woman" that effectively separated the W-O-M-A-N from the girls and boys.

But she was the shown the door by the AI text messagers, anyway - presumably for not possessing Blake's two-tone hair or Jordin's radiant smile.

Oh, the injustice! By the look on his face, you could tell that Simon knew that a wrong had been done, even as he was calculating the upside of all the extra dollars that can be made from cashing in on the more kiddie-friendly appeal of the Lewis and Sparks.

The expulsion of the 29-year-old Melinda exposes the white lie that AI is principally a singing competition. It helps if you can sing a little bit, and anyone who gets this far – like last year's wimp Elliott Yamin, who performed, as did Maroon 5, on a never-ending results show on Wednesday – is bound to be competent.

But once you're over that threshold, it's likeability that's rewarded. Blake and Jordin may not be as Barbie doll perfect for middle America as Carrie Underwood, but they're far more warm and fuzzy than a rugged career backup singer like Melinda, whose case would have been helped immeasurably if she was born with a longer neck, or didn't turn off voters by seeming like too much of a grown-up trespassing in Idol's teeny-bopper sandbox.