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Reality Check: Notes on 'Idol' Scandals

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David HernandezAP

Say what you will about the "American Idol" scandals — that they're over-hyped, under-handled or simply too frequent — but you've got to admit that they do impact the voting public.

While I'm not certain what kind of a connection there is between having a good voice and partaking in risqué behavior that can't seem to stay buried in anyone's closet, you can rest assured that each new season will bring with it another scandal or two.

This year, we had David Hernandez — in particular the discovery that he had worked as a stripper at an Arizona club for three years. While nary a word of this was mentioned on the show (on Tuesday night, in fact, we listened to Hernandez talking about how he worked in a pizza bistro pre-"Idol"), audiences apparently didn't really subscribe to the if-you-don't-mention-it-we-can-pretend-it's-not-there philosophy, and the Arizona State University student was sent packing on Wednesday.

Oh, I know this is a singing competition, not a popularity contest. And sure, you could say that his performance of "I Saw Her Standing There" was, as Simon said, "corny verging on desperate." But this is a guy who was one of the frontrunners a few short weeks ago, and he easily blew Kristy Lee Cook out of the water on Tuesday. I say America couldn't quite handle the extracurricular activities in this case.

Speaking of scandals, Sanjaya was in the house, giving Kristy Lee Cook a standing ovation when she belted out her unpopular country version of "Eight Days a Week." While I applaud the guy — who seems to have added a beard to his repertoire of hair looks — for his enthusiasm and sweetness, I don't think it did much to help Cook's case. I mean, isn't getting a standing O from Sanjaya for your singing sort of like being praised by Eliot Spitzer for your ethics?

In non-scandal related "Idol" news, we got to see lots of footage of our Top 12 having their photos taken, getting out of limos, chilling at premieres and just generally living the fabulous life.

While it seems like there's more focus on the celebrity-making aspect of "Idol" this year than ever before, it did give us an opportunity to learn factoids about our contestants that we would otherwise not have — like that David Archuleta is a big Jim Carrey fan (surprised?) or that Amanda Overmyer was more excited to meet the lead singer of REO Speedwagon than anyone else (of course).

It was also possible, through eagle-eyed viewing and the pleasures of DVR, to glean even subtler data about our contestants — namely that Syesha Mercado is even more of an actress than she always talks about being.

I'm talking about the fact that when she, David Hernandez and Kristy Lee Cook made up the bottom three and Ryan informed her that she was safe, there was a split second of glee that crossed her face before she forced her features into a heartbroken grimace over the fact that her fellow castmates' fates were still unknown.

Of course, this sly move won't keep her in the competition forever. I mean, the girl's pipes simply aren't strong enough and "Idol" is, after all, a singing competition.

That is, of course, until the next scandal surfaces.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.