Reality Check: Early Exits on 'Idol'

Sometimes what happens on "Idol" makes sense. Jason Yeager, for instance, had run his course — I knew it, the judges knew it and the voting audience knew it. (While he didn’t bow out in a particularly graceful way, I don’t know how gracious I would have been if I'd just been informed that I didn't stand out in a crowd and that I lacked charisma, charm and stage presence.)

While I wasn't so sure it was Robbie Carrico's time to go, I wasn't terribly surprised, either: he hasn't been that great and Simon seemed to be harping on Robbie's lack of authenticity to the degree that he almost appeared to be taking the guy's long hair and bandana personally.

It was the female results that put me into a tizzy. When Ryan first asked Alexandrea Lushington and Amanda Overmyer to stand, I thought, "Ah, well. Amanda is funny and definitely has her appeal but I guess I can't really fault America for not getting her."

But when he instead announced that it was Alexandrea who hadn't made the cut, I wanted to demand a recount. The girl has it — that indefinable "it" — in spades. She has an amazing voice. And she's adorable to boot (has anyone ever given Ryan a hard time so charmingly?) True to form, she handled the news like the trouper she seems to be, holding back tears and thanking everyone for the opportunity.

I had barely recovered from the shock of Alexandrea's early exit when the guillotine came down on sweet little Alaina Whitaker. Yes, Alaina Whitaker, who just last week everyone — even, amazingly, all three the judges — seemed to agree had the goods.

Sure, she had a tough couple of days — her rendition of "Hopelessly Devoted to You" wasn't widely praised — but she was still solid, not to mention roughly a thousand times better than Asia'h Epperson.

But I don't think anyone was prepared for how affected young Alaina was going to be by the news that she'd been eliminated. The sobs started before Ryan had even really finished his sentence and she immediately announced that she wouldn't be able to sing.

And I have to say, as sad as I was for the girl, it was lovely to see a moment of such genuine emotion on "Idol." Everyone on the show is always working overtime to come off as tough and Alaina's mini-breakdown was a nice respite from all that phoniness.

It also added entirely new dimensions of drama. The will-she-or-won't-she-be-able-to-sing question hung in the air as we got to witness various other contestants break down in crying fits of their own.

(My crying scorecard ranks David Archuleta's tears for Alexandrea's departure as real — as if that kid needs any more likeability points — and Ramiele Malubay's sobs over Alaina as equally genuine. Carly Smithson and Danny Noriega seemed a bit too determined to leave their faces tear-stained for my taste; I mean, don't people wipe tears away unless they want everyone to see them crying?)

Alaina did end up singing but by the time that Ryan announced that Brad Pitt was going to be appearing on the April 9 "Idol Gives Back" show, all the girls seemed to have forgotten all about her as they erupted in cheers. Talk about a remarkable emotional recovery!

Guess we can call that one of those "Idol" moments that just made sense.

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