When it comes to Hollywood Week, there are certain things that are simply a given. We know, for instance, that dramatic music will play, breakdowns will ensue and tears (of the happy and sad variety) will flow from beginning to end.
But this year we were hit with a slew of unexpected moments. Sure, we traveled down some familiar territory: Brooke "I've Never Seen an R-rated Movie" White struggled with her confidence problem (a reality show story line staple — see Jennie Garth's raison d'etre on last year's "Dancing With the Stars").
Amanda of the Two-Toned Hair fulfilled the smoky-voiced rocker role admirably, and everyone and their mother (and father) had their way with the same Bryan Adams song. Nevertheless, there were surprises aplenty.
Consider what happened with Josiah, the 18-year-old who lives, for reasons never made entirely clear to any of us, in his car.
After an audition that managed to bring out a bizarre earnestness in Simon ("Out of all the auditions, this is the one I'm going to remember," he all but rhapsodized), Josiah began melting down when he was attempting to practice with the house band.
Post-breakdown, an extremely patient-seeming vocal coach tried to calm young Josiah down. Yet the next day, when the boy chose to dismiss the band in order to deliver an undeniably odd acapella rendition of "Stand By Me" — after which he defended himself by claiming that asking the band to leave was actually an incredibly brave move — all three judges decided to keep him.
Look, I think he's really talented, despite that he sounds more British than Paul McCartney when he sings. But firing the band was idiotic and infantile, and to pass him through to the next round despite that not only doesn't seem fair, it also passively condones ridiculously immature behavior.
But what Josiah got away with was nothing compared to what Brooke the beauty queen didn't. You remember Brooke, right? The one who flirted and preened her way through an audition that managed to reinforce every negative stereotype you've ever had about beauty queens?
Well, when the girl messed up "Unchained Melody" (and then shrieked, "I messed up!" into the microphone), Simon — of all people — gave her the thumbs up (though "Idol" die-hards know this is his favorite song).
When Randy passed on the girl, Brooke's fate was left in Paula's hands. And we all know how this one goes — we even had a montage in last week's episode of Paula not being able to reject anyone to the tune of the "Oklahoma" song "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No."
And yet from somewhere deep inside, Paula managed to tell Brooke to get lost. And I have to say, when Brooke cried outside that she didn't think she'd been given a fair chance, I almost had to agree with her.
What in God's name has happened to Paula the Pushover?
Whether Paula's new role as dream-crusher or the judges' failure to punish bratty behavior is a new trend or simply a result of the stress of Hollywood Week remains to be seen. After all, if Tuesday night is any indication, predicting what will happen on "Idol" may not be so easy anymore.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.