OK, so this is the first season we've watched American Idol from the start of the competition to its (eventual) end. Now, we realize that The Beat is an entertainment column, so we should probably have been more in tune with the Idol phenomenon, but in truth, it took The Beat's wife and nine-year-old daughter to reel us in.

At first, we called Melinda Doolittle's dismissal a shocker. She was the early favorite, and never turned in a sub-par performance. A terrific singer, for sure. But "Idol" implies a sort of personality in addition to vocal talent, and, upon further consideration, we feel this is where Melinda fell short - especially given the presumptively young-skewing AI audience. The Beat, for the record, jumped on the Blake Lewis bandwagon early on, and we're hoping he carries the day in next week's finals.