So here we were, at the stage of the "Idol" competition where each of the contenders had to sing two different numbers in one night. While all of our performers seemed to handle that pressure with ease and mentor Neil Diamond didn't appear remotely fazed, not everyone dealt with this turn of events so well.
I don’t know if David Archuleta's stress is contagious, but Ryan must have mentioned how much they had to get through and how little time they had more times on Tuesday night than Randy told people they were "in the zone."
Not helping Ryan out was the fact that Paula's brain decided to take its wackiest detour to date. Now I know that it's more challenging for the judges when everyone's singing more than once, but I would expect the confusion to start after the second performance.
Paula got an early start. Perhaps she was feeling pressured by Ryan's uncharacteristic pushiness, but one of the best moments in "Idol" history occurred when Paula began critiquing Jason Castro's second number before he'd even sung it.
This was followed by a few seconds where everyone seemed to wonder if they could handle this flub the way they do all Paula gaffes — that is, by pretending it didn't happen — before realizing that would be impossible.
(Paula called into Ryan's KIIS-FM radio show Wednesday morning, saying she was reading the critique she had written for Jason Castro when she got confused and started reading what she had written about David Cook.)
Simon, as usual, took charge, cutting Paula off before she could do any more damage and barking out stern but for the most part accurate critiques of the whole lot of them. The only person I think he was too harsh on was Jason Castro, as I thought the boy's rendition of "Forever in Blue Jeans" was lovely.
Castro wasn't so sharp on "September Morning" while David Cook gave one of his better rocker lite renditions of "All I Really Need Is You" and Brooke bounced back nicely from her rather spastic "I’m a Believer" with a piano-accompanied "I Am I Said." Archuleta offered up his usual perfection with "America," followed by his standard gee-gosh smile alternated with his deer-in-the-headlights grin.
Finally, Syesha did "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime" and I have to say that she gives theatrical performances a good name. All those affectations that were kind of annoying before — the perma-grin, the endless chatter about how she was an actress — get put to ideal use when she's doing the Andrew Lloyd Webber thing, or even just giving Neil Diamond the Andrew Lloyd Webber treatment.
Still, the girl was up to her former obnoxiousness by challenging Simon when he told her he thought she might be in trouble. Because her performance was so good, I forgave her for it and actually think it will work to her advantage by making people think they have to vote for her to save her from being eliminated.
And speaking of eliminations, poor, weepy Shannon Elizabeth got the boot over on "Dancing with the Stars." The nice thing was that since she's been crying all season, we didn't have to feel that bad when she gave her tearful goodbye. Plus, we got to see Cristian de la Fuente bounce back from a trio of 7's, an injury and a trip to the hospital.
Cristian had already offered up the fact that he would delay surgery if he could remain on the show — a move that seemed very dramatic and was second only to the Jason Castro performance that only Paula Abdul heard in terms of awesome reality TV moments of the week.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.