Melinda Doolittle: Love 101
The former American Idol star smoothly blends Broadway, R&B, and pop into a solid hour of entertainment.
With a voice and personality that's part sweetness and part sass -- and a seemingly perfect sense of pitch -- Doolitle is never less than beguiling. But admittedly, she lacks the distinctive vocal qualities that have propelled fellow Idol alums Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson into the stratosphere.
Like a typical Idol season; Love 101 touches all the musical bases. Pop-haters needn't worry, though; Justin Bieber's infectious "Baby" and Bruno Mars' "Grenade" and "Marry You" are combined for a short if cleverly conceived medley, and Doolittle throws little more than a snippet of Beyonce's super-catchy "Single Ladies" at the end of a well-done pairing of "Blues in the Night" and "Ain't Nobody Business (If I Do)."
Most comfortable in the R&B mode, Doolittle excels on "Wonderful," a catchy 1970s-sounding tune from her 2009 album, Coming Back to You; adds a healthy dose of grit to a full-out rendition of "At Last"; brings on the bravado in a jazzy "Down with Love"; and practically tears down the house with a passionate, in-your-face take on "I'm a W-O-M-A-N."
Doolittle doesn't shy away from the Broadway canon; better yet, she opts for some unusual selections. She perform Avenue Q's "The More You Love Someone," with remarkable straightforwardness, offers up a suitably roof-raising version of "Home" (from The Wiz) mid-set; and concludes the night with the stirring ballad "Love Will Stand When All Else Falls" from Memphis.