Despite the headlines, the big "Idol" news of the week wasn't the revelation that David Hernandez spent three years as a stripper — it was the evidence that David Archuleta doesn't do everything perfectly.
Don't get me wrong. He sang the heck out of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" while managing to play the piano through the first half. And the piano somehow made him seem older than usual — or at least less like the cherubic wonder boy with the perma-grin.
Nevertheless, he inspired Randy to trot out his standard favorite criticism — "pitch problems" — and Simon to deem his song choices "gloomy."
Of course, the boy grinned throughout the comments as enthusiastically as if they were calling him the second wonder of the world, like they did last week.
Then, as if he had any right to be revealing any more likable qualities, he gave a mini-speech about how much he liked the song because it brought attention to those less fortunate. And the most ridiculous part of it all is that he really seemed to mean every word! (Ryan, clearly not used to contestants doing anything at this moment but pouting or gloating, depending on what the judges have just said, slapped on his best "Idol Gives Back" face and agreed.)
David Cook and David Hernandez were the other standouts — Cook with his emo version of Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Hernandez for soldiering on so diligently despite his scandal.
As for the other guys — well, Luke Menard cheesed it up, Jason Castro showcased his solid voice but seemed as painfully awkward as usual, Michael Johns continued to not live up to that "Bohemian Rhapsody" he performed weeks ago and Danny Noriega saucily brought texting lingo onto the show (TMTH = Too Much To Handle).
But I have to confess that I'm more partial to the girls this year than I am to the boys. First of all, the most embarrassing moments that they had to reveal in their interviews put the boys to shame: Amanda Overmyer burned down a house (you were expecting something less intense from this girl?), Kristy Lee Cook acted like a dog and both Ramiele Malubay and Syesha Mercado told cute stories about confessing crushes to boys and getting rejected.
The boys, meanwhile, all seemed to talk about forgetting lyrics to songs and other less-than-memorable experiences.
While I'm not Asia'h Epperson's biggest fan, the girls got better as the night went on: Kady Malloy, who's starting to look more and more like Ali Larter from "Heroes" to me, was finally as good as her original audition suggested she would be, and Amanda Overmyer absolutely killed "I Hate Myself for Loving You." (Why she was giving the judges the look of death when they were drowning her in praise is beyond me, unless she's still pissed about Simon's hair comments from last week.)
Carly Smithson continued to showcase her impressive pipes, Kristy Lee Cook and Syesha Mercado showed marked improvements and Brooke White kept up last week's winning streak with a mellow version of "Love Is a Battlefield," which she performed while sitting on the front of the stage.
While Ramiele Malubay wasn't at her strongest this week, I say that girl reaches almost Archuleta levels of preciousness. If she doesn't make it through to next week, that would be, as Danny Noriega might say, TMTH.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.