'Idol' duo stir critics' passions

Posted: May 23, 2007

The entertainer vs. the singer. That's how the American Idol judges framed last night's showdown between Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks.

Both were doing a pretty good job of playing to their strengths until Blake ran into a brick wall titled "This Is My Now," the treacly ballad that has been ordained as the eventual winner's first single.

Of course, Blake's appeal had little to do with his singing. So in the end we're left with a toss-up.

All season long, our staff has been following the competition, Here they weigh in on who will be crowned the newest Idol tonight.

Sanjaya! Oh, sorry. As for Blake, who? I have only two words: Taylor Hicks, the Brian Dunkleman of winners, who is valet-parking somewhere in West Hollywood. Face it: Men have fared poorly in the AI cosmos, the biggest success to date being cultural oddity Clay Aiken - if he didn't exist, Martin Short would have created him - and even Clay came in second. Blake is just a full-figured Clay. Jor-Din has the big voice, the huge smile, the potential for one-name Fantasia status. She has acting and modeling possibilities, while offering the appeal of being the youngest winner and only progeny of a former NFL cornerback.

Karen Heller, columnist

Prediction: Jordin

Blakerati are readying their nimble fingers to win it for their Puget Sound boy, the only Idol contestant with a speck of originality, though he has not lately shown enough of his earlier Hard Day's Night off-kilter vibe. Will have to return to his catchy "You Give Luh-luh-luh-love . . . a Bad Name" - oh, wait, that's my cell phone - form to hold off the towering Jordin Sparks.

Amy S. Rosenberg, staff writer

Prediction: Blake

In the battle between the beat-box and the chatterbox. I'm nearly neutral. I've been astonished at how often the judges have called Blake "fresh" or "a rebel." He sounds to me like a stale version of the Fat Boys. Jordin has real talent, but she still hasn't put together a lights-out performance on the Idol stage. And that's a concern. Judging by the online buzz, I'm going with Blake, but as my colleagues are fond of reminding me, I haven't been right yet. So take it with a grain of salt.

David Hiltbrand, TV editor

Prediction: Blake

That ingratiating lightweight, Blake Lewis, will win because he's a slick, inoffensive song-and-dance man, and because as a mildly talented beat-boxing white guy who lightly spices his pop/R&B interpretations with the slightest dash of hip-hop flava, he has the broadest appeal.

Dan DeLuca, music critic

Prediction: Blake

Blake dresses like a geek and makes the same noises I made as a toddler, pulling my little wooden choo-choo train around the rec room. The judges go ga-ga over his "freshness," and I just scratch my head. So he should win easily.

Jonathan Storm, TV critic

Prediction: Blake

I don't really care as long as Ryan Seacrest gets kicked off. But if I have to pick, I'll say Blake wins. I could say it's because he'll get the 7-year-old-girl and 70-year-old-grandma vote (the show's core audiences), but that's pseudo-analysis. It's really just a hunch.

Peter Mucha, philly.com

Prediction: Blake

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