Reality Check: Crying Over 'American Idol'

While many "American Idol" hopefuls did well tonight — especially Sanjaya, who managed, for the first time, to give the non-Sanjaya-obsessed a reason to keep him around — I have to say that the star of the show was Ashley, the little girl the camera focused on obsessively who spent most of the evening in hysterical tears.

What better way to bring back the British invasion than to feature a sobbing, clearly manically obsessed teen? Watching her weep while Sanjaya sang was adorable. And while it seemed a bit odd when she continued to cry over Melinda, the memory of David Hasselhoff's crocodile tears last season made Ashley's emotions seem comparatively normal.

Now, can we talk about the main object of Ashley's affection? I mean, who knew little Sanjaya had that whole rocker guy in him? I had gotten used to the notion that, like taxes and static cling, Sanjaya was just going to be one of those annoying aspects of life we would have to contend with more than we should.

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Although I'm not going to make a complete 180 and start leading Sanjaya parades, I have to say that I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Blake, who has had a special place in my heart from minute one, continued to make me proud. Yes, I love the subtle way he incorporated the beat boxing into the song, but it's even more than that. It sounds corny — though perhaps not as corny as Randy raving about his "massive yo factor" — but I just feel good when the guy's performing.

Same deal with Chris Sligh — who has completely gotten his funny back, thank God — and the growing-more-adorable-by-the-nanosecond Jordin who, in my opinion, needs to straighten her hair from this day forward.

Seriously, did the girl look hot tonight or what? Besides, when you have a voice like that, hotness barely matters.

Which leads me to Haley. Now, I've never been a fan, but what happened tonight at least helped explain her appeal to me: It seems that she has taken on the resident sexpot role that Antonella established but was too controversial to ever fully occupy.

I don't find Haley sexy, but clearly that beauty mark combined with the short-shorts did something to Simon. The look also helped me understand why she is still around despite the fact that you sort of forget her performance about 15 seconds after she is done.

Still, Haley seemed to do the best she could, which is more than I can say for previous show favorites, Stephanie and LaKisha, who, in defying Lulu in her song choice, gave off the tiniest whiff of diva.

I still don't get the Chris Richardson thing, but since everyone else seems to, I'll assume I'm having some kind of a mental block. Phil and Gina, meanwhile, proved that it's possible to be both loud and boring at the same time.

And then there's show-stealing Melinda, who did her usual deal: blow everyone else out of the water. I have to say, I'm with Simon: the girl seems way too talented to be so nice.

If we somehow learn she's not, well, that will give Ashley something to really cry about.

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"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of