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Doolittle out; 'American Idol' down to final 2

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Melinda Doolittle may be a w-o-m-a-n, but she's not the woman who will appear in the American Idol finale next week.

She sang "I'm a Woman" live for the last time on the Idol stage last night after America chose to send Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks to the final round of the Fox talent competition next week.

"A lot of good things are going to happen for you," host Ryan Seacrest told Doolittle after informing her that last night was the end of the road for her.

Doolittle, 29, of Brentwood, Tenn., was the lowest vote-getter after almost 60 million votes were tallied Tuesday night.

Judge Paula Abdul told Doolittle that her career is just beginning. "You already have made it, Melinda, and now it's time for you to go into your career," she said. "It's going to be huge."

As always, Judge Simon Cowell was frank. "My commiserations to you, Melinda, 'cause you are one heck of a singer," he said.

On Tuesday night, the three remaining contestants each had the opportunity to sing three songs, but only one was the song of their choice. The judges and the show's producers chose a song for the contestants, and the contestants closed by singing their favorite song.

Doolittle's first song was "I Believe in You and Me" by Whitney Houston, which Judge Randy Jackson chose to throw some difficulty at her. And it worked. "You blew it out the box," he said.

Cowell gave the first round to Doolittle after hearing all three singers perform their first songs of the evening.

"This is your best in at least four weeks," he said. "Round 1 goes to Melinda."

Producers chose to ask her to rock out to "Nutbush City Limits," which Jackson characterized as "another great, solid performance."

For her favorite song, Doolittle was out in front of three back-up singers jamming to "I'm a Woman."

America chose to send Lewis, 25, of Bothell, Wash., and Sparks, 17, of Glendale, Ariz., to the finals next week. One of the two will be crowned the next American Idol on Wednesday.

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