After its first two rounds, "American Idol" was still missing a key element -- a great, black singer. Now it has at least one, maybe two.
Lil Rounds sang beautifully to close the show; she should easily zoom into the final 12. Ju'Not Joyner also did a great job, but was sandwiched in the middle; some other guys followed strongly.
Powerhouse black singers have been part of this show from the beginning. Ten the 28 people to reach the show's final four have been black; from Ruben Studdard to Fantasia to Jordin Sparks, they have enriched "Idol" enormously.
But this year? In the first two rounds, the show added five whites and a Latina; something was missing.
Not tonight. Joyner has a great voice; Rounds has that plus a vibrant personality and three kids. Here are my thoughts; please add yours:
1) Sympathy can be a powerful factor and now there's an overload. Danny Gokey is a widower and Scott MacIntyre is blind; both happen to be strong singers and likable guys.
2) On an ordinary night, Felicia Barton would also be a strong contender. She's the one who didn't make the final 36, then was brought back when someone else was dropped. She sang well and is the best-looking person in the running.
3) And on an ordinary night, Kendall Beard would be dynamite. She's a Kellie Pickler type -- blonde and buoyant and country. But she picked a song ("This One's For the Girls") with limited potential. Whenever possible in a contest, sing a Martina McBride song; just don't sing THAT one.
4) Then there were the people lost in the shuffle, particularly Von Swift, who started the show so well. Maybe they'll be back on Thursday, when the judges add the final three people to the top 12.
5) Now for my should-advance and will-advance; it's much tougher than in previous weeks.
6) Should advance? I'll go with Lil Rounds as the best female, Ju'Not Joyner as the best male and Von Swift in the third spot.
7) Will advance? Definitely Scott MacIntyre and Lil Rounds, but the third spot could go in any of several directions. I'll guess Jorge Nunez, a likable guy who sang near the end, sang well and got lots of attention. We'll know soon.