It's anybody's ballgame

Times Staff Writer

HISTORY is written by the winners. In years to come, during damp drizzly Novembers in our soul, when we find ourselves gathering our kin 'round the hearth to hark back to the glory that was Season 6, we will know how this story ends.

We will remember in that distant tomorrow, when perhaps the Earth seems devoid of entertainment, how once from the unwashed masses arose a shy little backup singer with the voice of a goddess; how once there was a mischievous lad named Sanjaya Malakar, whose antics stopped a nation dead in its tracks; how once a sailor defied all odds to stand with the final six. We will hear tales of the Chris Slighs and Gina Glocksens who once walked the Earth -- when in the years to come we share these memories it will seem inevitable that one of them was destined to triumph.

But here in the present, when history has not unfolded, we stand on the brink of perhaps the greatest cliffhanger in "Idol" history.

Going into the semifinals, there were plausible scenarios in the "Idol" pundit community in which any of the three finalists could be eliminated, and any of the three might win.

For the first time this season, everything hung on performances.

All three came into the judges' and producers' choice night on Tuesday needing a home run to assure a place in the finals -- and viewers witnessed a night of solid doubles and triples. Only Melinda Doolittle, whose supernatural abilities shone through all three numbers, soared high enough above the pack to seemingly guarantee herself a slot in the finals.

But with Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis now at the head of -- at least judging from the crowds in the Idoldome -- armies of fanatical adolescent fans -- Melinda's more mature appeal may get lost in the shuffle.

Then again, while it was once thought Jordin, LaKisha Jones and Melinda would divide the same vote, it now seems likely that Jordin and Blake will split the youth vote, with Melinda monopolizing the rest of the electorate. Which could set up a very interesting youth-versus-maturity final if it is Melinda versus one of the others.

These are indeed the times that try an "Idol" pundit's soul, but they also are great days as we approach the widest-open final in "Idol" history.

What is remarkable, however, is that, contrary to all expectations, the remaining contestants have not segregated in the final stretch but seem closer than ever. When they are on stage together, Blake, Jordin and Melinda cling, whisper and gossip -- seeming to support and cheer each other on.

It is as though their common ordeal over the last few months is more powerful than what separates them. They still seem to have denial mechanisms (called sportsmanship by some) wherein they process each week's elimination not as a victory over competitors but a senseless, mysterious act of God.

But next week, with the final gladiatorial competition, there will be no denial for the remaining two friends; one of them must fall so that the other can triumph. Destiny is at hand.

For more "American Idol" show trackers, go

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World