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The Top-12 American Idol finalists kicked off the nerve-wracking final 12 round of singing on March 14th and without a doubt, it was an emotional night full of surprises, mishaps and judge commentary from Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell that brought very mixed reviews.

American Idol Season Six Top 12 Finalists Coverage
March 13, 14 Top 12 Kicks Off - Round 1 Diana Ross Performances
March 20, 21 11 Idols Remain - Round 2 British Invasion Week
March 27, 28 Down to 10 - Round 3 A Little Help from Gwen Stefani
April 3, 4 The Final 9 - Round 4 Tony Bennett, Always a Class Act!
April 10, 11 Down to 8 - Round 5 - Jennifer Lopez Inspires
April 17, 18 Lucky 7 - Round 6 - Martina McBride's Inspiration
April 24, 25 Six Idols Remain - Round 7 - Songs of Inspiration
May 1, 2 From Six to Four - It's Showtime Now! - Bon Jovi
May 8, 9 Four Remain - Bee Gees week as Barry Gibb mentors
May 15, 16 Top 3 Shocker!  Or Was it?  Why Melinda went home.


March 14th - Sanjaya Stays as Brandon Rogers Disappoints

Melinda Doolittle stays.  No surprise.  Lakisha Jones stays.  No surprise. Perhaps the early departure of Brandon Rogers wasn't a surprise at all, was it?  Not to us.  Brandon disappointed us for three straight weeks after coming hot out of the gate with his opening audition.  This kid's got talent and a fabulous voice but why he refused to "bring it" the past few weeks is beyond our wildest imagination.  Forget about lyrics that eluded him.  After all, three of the final 12 Idols forgot their words.  This was perhaps Brandon's worst showing yet, even had he not forgotten the words.  Brandon Rogers had so much potential and was a clear talent to be heard from.  But he just didn't bring it so Sanjaya Malakar lives another week as we bid farewell to Brandon.So Brandon, it wasn't forgetting your lyrics that got you eliminated.  We, and the judges have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Brandon to bust out and wow us.  He failed to do so.  All that talent yet no concept of how to blow us away with that talent.  Hence, bye bye Brandon.  He had potential but let us down.  Sanjaya is clearly the favorite to make his departure this coming week, but who knows.  He could be one of those sleeper American Idols who fans continue to push through, even though his voice lacks punch and power that we'd like to see.  His vocals have been flat, and that ridiculous smile is starting to get on our nerves.  Nevertheless he's still here. We're looking forward to next week's show and have no doubt that Melinda has only just begun.  We still don't have a single bad word to say about her, nor do we expect we will.

March 13th - A Night of Mixed Reviews and Mishaps

Our favorite, Melinda Doolittle didn't disappoint.  Her poise has become commonplace from week to week and this week was no different.   Her rendition of "Home" from the Wiz was, as always, controlled, powerful and moving for all who witnessed this performance.  The applause from the crowd and praise of the judges brought expected tears to Melinda's eyes, but didn't stop there.  Paula Abdul was also moved to tears and rightfully so.  Anyone who watches Melinda Doolitle on a weekly basis should feel proud - even though none of us know her personally.  She is a model contestant and a model human being.  Simon Cowell commented that Melinda reminds him of a young Gladys Knight, and praise like that, from a man like Simon Cowell, needs no further contemplation.

Next comes another model idol who you can't help but adore; Lakisha Jones.  Lakisha's version of "God Bless the Child" on this night of Diana Ross performances, was spot on.  Strong, also controlled and full of the WOW-factor.  Lakisha performs like a seasoned professional who appears as if she's been doing this her entire life.  Praise from Randy Jackson came in the form of  "Sensational.  Unbelievable Vocal".  Simon followed that up with "You either got it or you don't. And you got it".  "Outstanding".  "You performed like a star".  Rare words from Cowell, yet no words were truer or better spoken.

Mixed reviews came in the many forms on this night as contestants Blake Lewis and Chris Sligh mixed things up with their own spins on Diana Ross classics.  We thought these two were actually very good.  The judges didn't agree.  And while Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell continually press for Idol competitors to "find their styles", "make it their own", "be unique", we feel these two were unjustly criticized for doing just what the judges usually clamor for.  Yet the contradiction came when the judges claimed that Motown needs no change.  They're classics.  Well judges, make up your minds.  Do you want unique or copycats.  Stick with one view, because from week to week, it seems there is constant criticism of singers who take a song, and make it their own, when all along, this is what the judges have called out for.

The surprises of the night came in the form of forgotten lyrics. Brandon Rogers, Haley Scarnato and Stephanie Edwards all drew blanks when the pressure was on.  This is perhaps understandable on such a pressure-packed opening night, nevertheless, we haven't seen this many flubs in a single show.  Fans of American Idol are always very forgiven and we expect them to follow suit with this week's voting.  That being said, we, as Simon, are disappointed with Brandon Rogers.  This guy's got pipes.  He's got talent.  He's got experience.  But week after week, we beg for more from him and we're just not getting it.  Perhaps the thing that is keeping Brandon in the competition was his very first audition where he sang like a seasoned veteran.  He just hasn't been the same since, and while we'd still like to see him around, it would be no surprise to see Brandon depart the show early.  The saving grace for Rogers may be the constant pounding the judges have been pouring on Sanjaya Malakar.  When the only positive comment is Paula Abdul's ever-expected "you are adorable", it is clear that Sanjaya is in trouble and the fact is that he has been hanging on by the skin of his nice teeth with each passing week!



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