The conspiracy theorists are in overdrive this morning after Melinda Doolittle's surprise ouster from American Idol. Though Melinda has been the front-runner in the competition from the start, though she went into the semi-final vote a clear favorite-- and despite all indicators pointing otherwise-- the season's best singer was sent home in an Idol stunner not seen since... well, not since last season when Chris Daughtry was eliminated in a jaw-dropping (it was his jaw that dropped, but hey...) shocker.
While Melinda's ejection has bolstered claims that controversial sponsor-fave Jordin Sparks has been the producers' designated winner from the start, there's also the possibility that Jordin and Melinda split the powerful Southern-based "Christian" voting block. Both are "Christian" artists who have gotten the support of a campaign from the Gospel Music Association, but Jordin's profile has increased due to her prominent role as a teenage anti-abortion crusader.
Even so, there are more than a few reasons that last night's result is a chin-scratcher:
* With a clear generational difference separating them from Melinda, Jordin and Blake Lewis were expected to split the "youth vote," while Melinda was going to pick up the older, LaKisha Jones fans;
* The lead-off singer in the semi-final round has been sent home in every Idol season (that would have been Jordin);
* A contestant from the South has won the prize each time. Melinda's from Nashville-- Blake's from the Northwest and Jordin's from Arizona;
* Jordin had a bad night on Wednesday. Melinda knocked each song out of the park;
* Prognosticator DialIdol had Melinda ahead in votes all day yesterday, with Blake & Jordin neck-and-neck...
Then again, it could have been Melinda's decision to repeat her rendition of "I'm A Woman," which only reminded young voters that, pushing 30, she's a professional who's better suited for the role of American Adult.
Meanwhile, we're split on our favorite moment from last night. It's a toss-up between Ryan Seacrest kicking Blake's father off the stage and Elliott Yamin, with his face-altering new teeth, plugging Porsche on a show that wouldn't let poor Sanjaya sing "Mercedes Benz" because of sponsorship by Ford.