So it finally happened: Despite the valiant efforts of Fanjayas and ruckus-causers across the country, the 17-year-old was sent packing.

Based on the response in the auditorium — insane hoots and hollers of joy when Ryan revealed that LaKisha was staying while Sanjaya was leaving — this momentous occasion happened not a minute too soon.

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But in the Sanjaya universe, heroes don't go down without a fight — or at least a snarky comment — and our boy got his by changing the words of Bonnie Raitt's song from "Let's give them something to talk about, how about love?" to "Let's give them something to talk about, other than hair."

To which I say: Sanjaya, people didn't only talk about your hair. They also spent a good deal of time lamenting your voice. And some of us also pondered your weirder comments about the universe of Sanjaya and whatnot.

And when you were the one rocking a seven pony-tailed Mohawk and Shirley Temple curls (among many other styles) with a straight face, are you really in a position to be giving us a hard time for trying to make sense of it?

If Sanjaya wasn't feeling the love, however, Melinda and Jordin surely were. Jordin, whose star quality is growing with each passing week, seems to have the audience so in the palm of her hand, in fact, that all Ryan has to do is utter her name and cheering and yelping will ensue.

While Jordin's great at beaming and emanating ingénue grace, Melinda has evolved from shocked-you-like-me little girl into charming woman.

When Ryan asked her to pick which group of three was safe and she sassily sat down in the middle of the stage, making it clear she wasn't going to capitulate to his request, she had the crowd in a tizzy.

Besides this moment and, of course, Sanjaya's dramatic departure, the show was a bit slow, dedicated mainly to taking care of business.

This business included Simon making it clear that he hadn't been rolling his eyes at Chris' condolences to the families in Virginia; showing what people outside the Kodak Theater have to say about our "Idols" (they seem to like Blake, Melinda and Jordin a whole lot); and hyping "Idol Gives Back."

"Idol Gives Back," by the way, happens next week, and it's impossible to say whether that or the season's first Sanjaya-less show will be the bigger deal. But at least that woman on the hunger strike can finally eat.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

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