Fantasia Barrino Vs. Melinda Doolittle: Vote Now in the Idol Best Performance Quarterfinals!

Two timeless ballads. Two legendary Idol divas. But only one spot available in the semifinals of’s American Idol All-Time Greatest Performance Bracket Tournament.

Yes, folks, that’s the conundrum in today’s quarterfinal matchup between Fantasia Barrino’s riveting, emotional cover of “Summertime” and Melinda Doolittle’s sublime, nuanced take on “My Funny Valentine.”

American Idol Top 4 Performance Recap: ‘Nothing’ Ventured, Nothing Gained

It seems almost unfair for one of these epic performances to not reach the final four, but that’s the way the story has to go as our single-elimination, 64-player tourney marches to the semifinals. (For the uninitiated, every day around 1:00 p.m. ET over the next week, we’ll launch a new set of duels to the death, so be sure to keep coming back and making sure your favorites advance.)

Kris Allen Vs. David Cook: Idol’s Best
Performance Quarterfinals Rage On!

Before you head to the polls, you may want to peruse these memory-refreshing links to the performances entering the ring this afternoon:

Performance Links!
Fantasia Barrino, ”Summertime” (Movie Night)
Melinda Doolittle, “My Funny Valentine

Watch those videos now, then head down to our polls to vote for your favorites (voting will be open for 48 hours), and hit the comments to justify your picks.

Idoloonies: Stefano Langone Talks
Piano Skills, ‘Hello,’ and Gordon Ramsay’s Bad Behavior

And if you’re interested in the matchups we’ve got planned for the coming weeks and how the early rounds of matchups played out, click here to check out the entire 64-player bracket (then click again for a zoomed in view), and sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. John Berggren says:

    I don’t see how Melinda is beating Fantasia. Summertime was absolutely bar none the best performance on that Idol stage.

    • Laura says:

      For me, I prefer the nuances in Melinda’s performance the phrasing choices that she makes. In addition her lower register makes me melt.

      • Holly says:

        I completely agree with you. It is so refreshing to see Melinda getting credit where it is due. No one has ever out-done Melinda on phrasing and technical singing. So enjoyable to listen to just about anything she sings. Fantasia was great, but Melinda was and is a real pro (not to mention a completely class act from start to finish!)

      • jules says:

        For me, Melinda’s “My Funny Valentine” is Top 2 or 3 of all Idol performances. She did it beautifully. Fantasia’s “Summertime” was too big, too full of runs, too over the top to really communicate that song, for my taste. Same with Kat McPhee’s “Over the Rainbow.” I love the real melodies that George Gershwin and Harold Arlen wrote for those songs and I don’t care for vocal performances that try to write a new melody with frills and runs and woo-woo-woo curlicues.

      • Liz says:

        Totally agree with Laura

        Just wanted to point out though, I decided to relisten to Fantasia and watch the video Slezak posted – In the video, Simon said “You proved the point of…why we are critical of people who just sing well.” I wish the judges this season could recognize that point :/

      • Cy says:

        I completely agree with Laura–there’s just no voice like Melinda’s in all its smooth, buttery richness and flawless technical control.

    • Leslie Mac says:

      PREACH! No contest – actually I think that Summertime should have been excluded from the brackets b/c it is so clearly far & away the best performance ever on Idol. To quote Simon, it “was magical”

      • Cat says:

        Agree! I still get chills when I watch that performance.

      • kyrjar says:

        This time I did have to rewatch them to decide.

        But Melinda by a mile, power vocals with nuance and minimal showy runs. Summertime has been hyped too much but it still was a moment for Fantasia.

    • Karrie says:

      Neither… you’ve had some odd choices, Sleazek! I did vote for Fantasia though reluctantly!

  2. j. says:

    This is like choosing between foie gras and tiramisu.

    • Laura says:

      But who is the foie gras and who’s the tiramisu?

    • true choice says:

      Actually, it’s like choosing the vocalist vs the emoter.

      Fantasia is the Emoter, and uses her vocal talents to support & enhance the emotional performance.

      Melinda is the Vocalist, and she add emotions to support & enhance the vocal performance.

      Not trying to deride one or the other. Both are super at what they do. It’s just your personal preference.

  3. Rhama says:

    Very difficult choice but Melinda is better singer.

  4. Paul says:

    First off, I have to say that these 2 performances were definitely the best of Season 3 and Season 6. Both are really great.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Fantasia’s back in Season 3, but I did love this performance. However– Melinda Doolittle is probably the best vocalist on Idol ever! (Up there with Kelly, LaToya, & Adam)– Her rendition of “My Funny Valentine” is just flawless– the phrasing, the dynamics, the interpretation (not to mention the vocal!) are all simply outstanding! Just an amazing amazing performance!

    • Joe says:

      Melinda Dolittle should have won that year. She was nearly flawless every performance. Funny Valentine was the greatest. I was hoping that she would put it on her albumj. Melinda’s moves on stage were fantastic for that song. I followed some of the blogs that year and some voted against Melinda on looks, very insulting comments. Jordan Sparks was OK, but no match for Melinda.

      • Paul says:

        Joe I completely agree. I think Melinda is probably the most robbed contestant EVER on Idol! She’s just amazing. I love her–

        If you go on iTunes, you can actually buy a copy of Melinda’s “My Funny Valentine” there– she recorded it, it’s really great!

  5. Lori says:

    I must be the only person who never liked Fantasia Barrino.

    • Alicia says:

      Agreed! I was never a fan when she was on and have never seen anything from her to change that in the time since.

    • justsayin says:

      Summertime was the only performance of Fanatasia’s that I liked. Melinda Doolittle gave great performances every time, and her “My Funny Valentine” performance is one of my all time favorites.

    • andrea says:

      Nope. I never liked her either. And didn’t like her version of Summertime. Melinda FTW!

    • Evan says:

      I didn’t like her at the time, but have totally come around since. I like pretty much all of her performances nowadays.

      That said, I’m voting for Melinda. This was flawless. Phrasing, energy, artistic choices. Splendid.

    • Kari G says:

      You are not alone. I never like Fantasia either. I’m not going to say she isn’t talented, but the tone of her voice is honestly like nails on a chalkboard to me. I can’t stand it. Melinda wins by default for me because of that.

    • april-ann says:

      @ Lori. I never liked Fantasia either. Like a high-pitched whistle right outside my ear. The winner that season was chosen before the show began airing, because the “judges” were plugging her even by then, during the fall buzz. Clearly, to me anyway, the best singer and most talented that season was Jennifer Hudson. I cried when she was eliminated, but I certainly don’t need to cry for her now!

    • Nancy says:

      I can’t stand her. The only way I got through her live performance at the Idol concert that year is because I leaned over to my niece and went “I broke mah shooooooooe!” and we laughed through the whole thing.

    • Joe says:

      You are not the only one. I was disappointed that she won that year.
      I am not saying Summertime was not good, but I did not like most of
      her performances that year.

    • ErixN says:

      I cannot stand to hear her talk or sing! You are definitely not alone.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Some of us weren’t watching AI back then. My only experience of Fantasia is watching her AI performances on YouTube years after her victory. So I never was a fan. And I’ve never been impressed with her return performances to AI.
      I always appreciated her performance of “Summertime”. I can see why it is still considered one of the best performances ever on Idol.
      But Season 6 was the first season I ever watched Idol from start to (almost) finish. Melinda was such a gem and by far the best singer that season. Thought for sure she would win and was wildly disappointed when she was eliminated in favor of the beat-boxer and Jordin Sparks. I didn’t realize that these types of eliminations were common on Idol (Chris Daughtry, Bo Bice, Jennifer Hudson), and the best singer doesn’t always win Idol.
      I will forever be a Melinda fan. But she couldn’t make it past the top 5 on today’s Idol. She isn’t young enough or pretty enough & she doesn’t sing things that today’s audience wants to hear. They would call her boring.

      • kyrjar says:

        You have to remember that Melinda peaked too early (Valentine was before the finals even) and Jordin peaked later and she was terrific and young (so you appreciated her “journey” and improvement). While Blake the beatboxer was much much better than people give him credit, I guess Melinda should have finished ahead of him. But it is also about the performance and Melinda had some clunkers.

        • GingerSnap says:

          Odd. I don’t remember Melinda having a single clunker. Can’t find any on You Tube either. I remember Jordin having a few. We tend to remember on “I Who Have Nothing.”
          The story arc that season was about the teenager – & a lot picking Melinda apart because of her looks. There were 3 talented black females that year. Jordin won because she was younger & more appealing visually. But the best singer was Melinda.
          AI has been trying to recreate that this season with Lauren A. She’s not the best vocalist or artist just the youngest.

          • Paul says:

            Ginger I completely agree. I don’t think that Melinda did ever have a ‘clunker.’ There were a couple ‘safe & boring’ performances by MELINDA standards (like “Sway” or “Love You Inside & Out”), but even THOSE performances were head and shoulders better than the majority of the other contestants’ performances during the season!

            And yeah Jordin did have a few clunkers thrown in there (the biggest being “Livin On A Prayer”)– After Melinda got the boot I voted for Jordin, but I’ve never been so disappointed in an Idol elimination.

  6. Cindy says:

    I think Melinda’s was better because she sang with meaning. Fantasia had never heard of summertime-she just did a performance. It was the best she ever sang (before or since) but it didn’t feel like she knew what she was singing about.

  7. Meyling says:

    Really surprised that Melinda’s My Funny Valentine is beating out Fantasia’s Summertime. Though.. I did vote for Melinda. Lol. I just never really liked Fantasia, but I thought a lot of people considered Summertime to be one of the best performances evah.

  8. Cy says:


  9. unfair? says:

    Slezak, I thought you weren’t including SemiFinal performances? MD’s MFV is at Top 20, clearly a semifinal performance.

    • Evan says:

      Kendra Chantelle made it, as did a Mario Vazquez, an Alex Lambert, Allison I’s “Alone,” Chris D’s “Hemorrhage,” and Jason’s “Hallelujah,” and that’s only counting the performances that I immediately recognized as occurring in the semis.

      So yes- Semifinal performances are fine. This is an “All-Time” tournament, baby!

  10. cmp says:

    What happened to the American Idol link at the top of the page? Thought Slezak had gotten the boot or something. What’s up with the change?

    • Floridajeff says:

      Wondering the same thing… Michael, can we get an answer? P.S. Love you!

    • J. says:

      I was wondering too — But I’ll bet it’s because the season is almost over. They’re changing the site to keep up. Michael writes about lots of other reality shows for TVLine too so I don’t think we have to worry about him.

  11. Lily says:

    So tough. For me, Melinda is the better singer, technically and in the quality of her voice. But, Fantasia’s Summertime is the better performance. I had to vote the performance but, can’t really be mad at either of these winning.

  12. Baby C says:

    What tit decided to pit these against each other? They should both be in the final.

  13. Name That Tune says:

    Tough call. Melinda just is better. Would like to see her do Summertime. God, was she just about the best pure vocalist ever on Idol? Just listening to her performances from Season 6 is awesome. And proof that Idol is no longer a singing contest.

  14. Rhama says:

    (Slightly) off topic.
    Top 8:
    from season 1 – Kelly
    from season 3 – Fantasia
    from season 6 – Melinda
    from season 7 – David and David
    from season 8 – Adam, Kris and Allison
    Is season 8 best season ever?

    • Georgia says:

      For different reasons, I liked Season 7 and 8 equally. I never voted regularly and passionately until Season 7 (for David Cook), and enjoyed the “Mavid” tour videos on YouTube. When Season 8 got started, I took viewing and voting much more seriously.

    • sage says:

      Personally, I think season 2 is the *best* season in terms of the entire group of performers and season 5 was the most *entertaining*. But, I think seasons 7 and 8 are the most popular due to certain contestants. It also helps that they are very recent (except season 9, but I ignore that season all together) so it’s still fresh in a lot of people’s minds.

      But, I’m probably in the minority thinking season 2 is so amazing. I loved it.

      • Jason S says:

        Season seven is the best all around. Season eight only had Kris, Adam, Allison and Megan Joy. Everyone else was pretty bad. Had Jessie Langseth made the wildcard instead of Anoop maybe season eight would be best But Season seven was solid with the Davids, Castro, Carly, Michael Johns, Brooke White. I even loved Kristy Lee Cook and Chikizee. I still believe Amanda Overmeyer should have outlasted Ramiele and then it would have been a perfect top ten.

        • sage says:

          Yeah, I do think season 7 had the best contestants but some weeks were just trainwrecks which was something we didn’t have seasons 2 and 5 or even 4 to an extent. The amazing thing about season 7 though was that everyone had at least one performance that I absolutely adored. Even Kristy Lee and Chikeze.

      • tuppy says:

        For me, it’s a tight race between seasons five and eight. (And five should TOTALLY be represented here by Katharine’s “Over the Rainbow”! BEST EVER.)

        Eight’s top four had Kris, Adam, and Allison. But Five’s top four had Katharine, Elliott, and Daughtry — contestants with big personalities and the talent to back it up. Five also had a better lower roster: Paris and Kellie Pickler and Ace Young were more interesting than Matt Giraud, Anoop, and Lil Rounds. Five, like eight, was super competitive and exciting week-to-week. Eight probably has to eke out the win, though, because the winner was not Taylor Hicks.

        Seven was good, too, but it was always a battle of the Davids. Carly Smithson was awesome, but Brooke, Jason, and Syesha were a pretty weak field for them to be up against.

        • gregk says:

          I think season 5 was the best and I never watched it live! Saw the highlights on Idol Rewind on TV Guide Channel and was mesmerized watching the whole countdown to the finale. So disappointed that Katherine lost though.

        • britt says:

          season 5 was glorious television. I think Taylor gets judged too much due to his post-Idol career but on idol, he was so much fun to watch. And, at the end of the day, idol is a tv show and season five entertained me. (I do agree with the OP that two was alot of fun to watch as well, along with 8)

  15. Ellen says:

    Melinda is better on so many levels.

  16. Sean D says:

    This one was rough for me; Slezak’s right: easily these are both top 4 Idol performances ever. But I have to vote with Melinda Doolittle. So much musicality- more than Idol has ever seen. The show didn’t know what to do with all of her brilliance, so she lost. But isn’t forgotten. “My Funny Valentine”- Best Idol Performance EVER.

    Although, I will say Slezak, I’m glad for these two (the both of whom I know you greatly adore) you did actually pick their unquestionably best performances. For some others, like Jason Castro and David Cook, the picks were a little questionable. But, alas, everyone’s opinions of their individual songs are different. So, no hard feelings.

    NOW if this was Melinda’s “Funny Valentine” against that “Lady Marmalade” Fantasia sang at that Patti Labelle tribute? That might give me pause. Chills.

  17. Mack Jagger says:

    Fantasia is the reason I’m an Idoloonie… I’m surprised by this result, but both were awesome performances. I agree with true choice that Fantasia’s emotional connection in her singing is rarely matched.

  18. Jared says:

    YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FREAKING KIDDING ME! HOW IN GOD’S NAME IS MELINDA AHEAD OF FANTASIA?!?!?!?!? Fantasia’s ‘Summertime’ is THE greatest Idol performance ever! Period! No Questions! End of story!

  19. JVC says:

    I voted for Fantasia, only to discover that melinda is winning. At first I thought: “How is that possible?” I love melinda dolittle, but choosing between her and fantasia, I always go w/ fantasia. But still it’s not over yet so there is still time to vote. But still, the original judging panel stated that Fantasia is the best winner from the show (or at least on of the best). But this is going to be a squeaker.

  20. GSOgymrat says:

    I love both of these performances. Listening to them back to back today I voted for Melinda. I love the tone of her voice!

  21. Jason says:

    How did Allison at 70.1% beat Carrie at 70.3%????????????????????????????????????????

    • Jo says:

      you are misreading the bracket. The % above a contestant refers to how much they won the PREVIOUS round by- so Allison beat Crystal with 70.1% of teh vote and Carrie beat Brooke with 70.3% of the vote. Allsion beat Carrie with 50.3% of the vote.

  22. aunt_deen says:

    Fantasia is awesome. But I’m sorry, Melinda Doolittle is better.

    Funny Valentine, all the way.

  23. Leah says:

    Summertime was amazing, and one of my fave Idol performances, but Melinda’s My Funny Valentine tops it.

  24. Lisa says:

    It’s easy to tell that people are voting on the person and not the performances.

    Although BOTH ladies are great singers. Fantasia’s performance of “Summertime” still holds one of the best performances in Idol history hands down! Rather you like how she talks, looks or whatever other excuses people may make up.

    • Blair says:

      I found this an exceedingly tough decision to make. And in fact, prior to listening to them back, I thought I preferred Fantasia’s performance over Melinda’s. So, I decided to listen to each. And before I did, I cleared my mind of any little bias or recollection of what I remembered their performances being, and played each with my eyes closed the entire time. And I was surprised to find I liked Melinda’s slightly better than Fantasia’s from a purely musical standpoint. So, that’s why I voted for Melinda.

  25. Mark in FL says:

    This entire exercise has been a waste of time because it’s been obvious from the beginning Slezak rigged the face-offs to get the desired results he wanted.

    • Jason S says:

      You are so right. Let’s see lets put the dullest David Cook song so his prized Kris Allen can be in the finales. MElinda Doolitte as best perfornmance ever? Are you freaking kidding me????? Does anyon even remmebr season six for anything other then Sanjaya and Antonella? Worst season ever!!!!!!!! And she didn’t even make the finale in that season!!!! Anyone in the Season seven top 10 (even Chikezzie and Kristy Lee Cook would have had a chance of winning season six) OK maybe not Ramiele MAlubay but Cook, Archuleta, Carly, Castro, Johns, Brooke, Kristy Lee, Chickie, or Amanda Overmeyer would have dominated season six.

  26. Brecken P says:

    Two true heavyweights of AI performances right there. Melinda was the better overall vocalist, as she was overall more consistent, but based solely on these two performances, it’s a really tough call. Voted for Fantasia, but I’m not really disappointed that Melinda is winning right now–no matter which one comes out on top, I’ll be voting for them until they either win or are knocked out.

  27. Jason S says:

    What kind of shenanigans did Slezak perform to get these two fuglies into the finals. How did they defeat Carrie, Kelly, Carly, and Haley? THose are the standard Idol girls now. Fantasia and Melinda Doolittle are footnotes and queens of boring performances. Can you please give us a neither option and see if it wins?

    • antk8 says:

      These are quarterfinals, it’s Kelly vs. Allison Iraheta in the other girl’s quarterfinal.

    • Brecken P says:

      Disagree STRONGLY. Melinda Doolittle is the greatest American Idol contestant ever–only Kelly Clarkson, LaToya London, and Crystal Bowersox come close. There’s a reason she was the highest ranked contestant of all time on What Not To Sing until this season (when Pia was voted out too early to make any real missteps)–she was technically perfect, especially on this rendition of “My Funny Valentine.” And Fantasia, despite not being nearly as consistent as Melinda, has a strong case for having the best Idol performance ever with “Summertime.” None of the girls you mentioned infused their performances with near the emotion Fantasia did, while still remaining strong technically.

  28. Jessabean says:


    (always makes me laugh)

  29. CurryFan says:

    God, there are conspiracy theories about the conspiracy theorist!! I love Idol fans, I really do. They make me smile.

  30. Yo says:

    I just had to intiate ans “Idol” search in order to find this article: there is no longer an Idol section on the front page (top). This could be to make folks look around, but it actually inclines readers to leave.

  31. LauraHolt says:

    The problem with this is it is a comparison of apples and oranges.

    Melinda’s performance is one of the BEST examples of phrasing and technically perfect singing.

    Fantasia’s performance is one of the BEST examples of storytelling and the emotion that her performance elicits cannot be overstated or overvalued. There’s only a handful of performances that can get me really emotional.

    This is quite the dilemma.

    If it this was an MP3 only poll then it would be Melinda hands down, but since this is a video poll then it would have to be Fantasia. The song is all over face and she bared her soul with that performance.