Look, I get that the shocking moments on "American Idol" — the times when gorgeous, talented Aussie boys are eliminated or certain humdrum singers stay on long past their expiration date or Paula actually starts to make sense when she speaks — can be undeniably enjoyable.
Seeing Carly Smithson get evicted wasn't.
Come on, people. She had one hell of a voice, a bittersweet back story (had record deal, record failed, tatted herself up, came back to redeem herself) and was becoming increasingly charming with every show. Still, this week she was sent home while Brooke "False Start" White and Jason "I've never heard of 'CATS'" Castro weren't even relegated to the bottom two.
The only explanation I can come up with is that the hubby of hers with the tattoos all over his face — a mainstay in the Carly section of the audience — just freaked people out too much.
The fact that Syesha was the one who joined Carly in the bottom two was also shocking, seeing as the girl gave what was widely considered her strongest performance to date this week.
But on Wednesday, she managed to pull off an even more impressive feat than that by answering Ryan's questions sweetly and without any of the actor-y bravado she usually has when speaking. When she was talking about how hard it is to perform with so many people judging her, I actually felt a pang of guilt for having been one of those people.
There were, of course, highlights to the show, such as seeing Paula and Randy tactlessly insult contestants they were trying to be kind to (Paula to Syesha, in an attempt to comfort her about being in the bottom two: "Well, it's not an unfamiliar place for you"; Randy to Carly and Syesha about how they got fewer votes than everyone else: "It must be a popularity thing.")
Also, hearing Andrew Lloyd Webber joke about Paula's nuttiness ("Some people on the panel lost their way a few times") was refreshing as hell, because — save for some Simon eye-rolls — no one on the show ever acknowledges that we spend a good amount of time every Tuesday and Wednesday with our collective Paula translators on trying to decipher what it is we think she means.
Speaking of less-than-articulate speakers, President Bush and Laura offered up a taped thank you for the $65 million "Idol Gives Back" raised, where W. talked about how "Idol" proves that one person with talent can win over an audience of millions. I guess that means he didn't watch when Sanjaya was on, when one person without a lot of talent won over said audience.
Then again, perhaps it's all about the hair. Sanjaya's locks kept him around for weeks — months? — longer than he deserved to be. And Jason has the coolest dreads to grace the "Idol" stage. I'm afraid Carly's dark mane simply didn't cut it.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.