Jordin or Blake? Pressure on as 'American Idol' finale nears - East Valley Tribune: News

Jordin or Blake? Pressure on as 'American Idol' finale nears

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Posted: Monday, May 21, 2007 2:30 pm | Updated: 7:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

They are perhaps the most odd pairing of “American Idol” finalists in the six-season history of “American Idol.”

The Valley’s Jordin Sparks is still a teenager, is 6 feet tall and has chosen to wear classy, elegant gowns during many of her “Idol” performances.

Blake Lewis, of Bothell, Wash., is 25, performs as “Bshorty” in his hometown, sports plenty of tattoos and is the beat-boxing champion of Seattle.

So whom will “Idol” fans vote for when they hit the phones after the two finalists sing tonight?

Here is how Sparks and Lewis measure up, based on previous “Idol” performances.

Jordin Sparks

Strengths:

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Aside from a rough week when Jon Bon Jovi was the celebrity guest coach — when she was vilified by judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul for her performance of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” — Sparks was the only contestant who appeared to get more confident each week, showing a maturity that belies her 17 years. Sparks has been able to handle ballads (Shirley Bassey’s “I Who Have Nothing,” the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” and Tony Bennett’s “On a Clear Day”) and upbeat songs (No Doubt’s “Hey Baby,” Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money”) with equal aplomb.

Weaknesses:

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In the beginning weeks of the final 12 contestants the judges kept bringing up the fact that Sparks was only 17, as though her lack of professional experience would cause her to wilt under the glare of the intense spotlight. Sparks, if anything, grew stronger as the competition progressed, but judge Cowell has taken Sparks to task for being “old-fashioned” in recent weeks, singing older pop songs with few contemporary arrangements.

Blake Lewis

Strengths:

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Lewis shone early in the competition with his beat-boxing skills, something that had yet to be seen during the previous six seasons of “American Idol,” but he wouldn’t be in the finals if he couldn’t sing, and Lewis has proved adept at singing R&B-tinged tunes such as Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone,” Maroon 5’s “This Love” and Diana Ross & The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Lewis is also the better performer of the two finalists, working the stage, busting dance moves and engaging the audience at home with direct eye contact into the cameras.

Weaknesses:

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Lewis tends to overdo the beat-boxing, and after his performance of the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing,” judge Randy Jackson told Lewis that he didn’t have to beat-box on every song and that “it gets old.” While Lewis has a good voice, it’s not a voice like Sparks’, which can bring the house down diva style with its power and range.

If you are an “American Idol” fan, you’ve gotten to know several of the contestants through interviews and video clips during the sixth season of the popular Fox singing competition.

We learned that fourth-place finisher LaKisha Jones was a struggling single mother before her impressive “Idol” run, and that Melinda Doolittle of Tennessee, who finished third, is a professional backup singer whose mom is her hero.

And we learned that Sanjaya Malakar, he of the ever-changing hairstyles, outlandish fashion taste and wobbly vocals, is simply Sanjaya.

At tonight’s performance finale Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis will vie for the title of the sixth “American Idol.”

We know that Lewis is from Washington and is a talented beat-boxer, able to replicate sounds with his mouth that club DJs make with the added help of two turntables and vinyl records. And we’ve learned that Jordin Sparks’ dad, Phillippi, was a football star at ASU and was a standout cornerback with the NFL’s New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys during a nine-year pro career.

Since Jordin is the hometown hero and could very well be the next “American Idol” when the votes are tabulated and announced during the “Idol” results show Wednesday, we’ve found 10 things you may not know about Jordin Sparks to help you get acquainted with the Valley’s latest star.

1. Jordin is 6 feet tall and wears a size 11 shoe.

2. She’s a Capricorn (her birthday is Dec. 22, 1989).

3. Born in Staten Island, N.Y., Jordin moved to Glendale when she was a child.

4. Her favorite movie is “The Notebook.”

5. Jordin has never had any professional singing training.

6. In 2006, Jordin won a search for the “Next Plus Size Model” and appeared in a full-page ad in the December 2006 issue of Seventeen magazine.

7. In 2004, she appeared in “America’s Most Talented Kids” twice and won during her first appearance.

8. Her favorite type of food is Mexican.

9. Last summer she tried out for the fifth season of “American Idol” but didn’t even make it past the first round.

10. Jordin says her toughest obstacle in life was trying to get through math class.

http://www.americanidol.com" class="content-link" target="497">Official American Idol Web site

Official Jordin Sparks Web site

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