Reality Check: The 'Idol' Battles Begin

We're down to the Top 12 on "American Idol," which means that battles aplenty are waging. As far as I'm concerned, we can break them down into six main struggles:

Ryan vs. Simon: Our "Idol" boys are back at it again, which means that they're either back to their verbal warfare because they actually dislike each other or back to their verbal warfare in order to make it look like they dislike each other.

This meant that there were plenty of sharp words between the two during Tuesday night's show, including one moment where Simon told Ryan to be careful and Ryan cleverly tossed out the fact that Simon only says that when he doesn't have a snappy retort. Since Simon tends to win any verbal battle he ever engages in, it was nice to see Ryan take the lead.

(Winner: Ryan, but not for very long; Simon's destined to come out on top.)

Chikezie vs. David Cook: Both of these guys have taken a minute to show their appeal and both made great strides this week. Chikezie clearly had some sort of a personality makeover because he went from relatively surly to self-deprecating and adorable as he talked about working security at LAX.

And Cook — who's delivered a series of solid performances but never a spine-tingling good one — just did: his hard-rock version of "Eleanor Rigby" was a fate-changing home run.

(Winner: Chikezie because his performances have been solid from minute one and his version of "She's a Woman" was appealing in a slightly more mainstream way than Cook's "Rigby" — plus, he got in a reference to loving his mom, which always plays well.)

Paula vs. the English Language: Now Paula's struggles with speaking certainly aren't anything new, but Tuesday night involved her trying to talk about the rewards that come with taking risks, but she couldn't stop saying "risks" when she meant "rewards" (you know how those pesky "R" words can be). Later, she struggled to come up with the word, um, "sing."

(Winner: The English language; I'm afraid Paula's never going to win this one.)

Carly Smithson vs. Brooke White: These two girls are revealing themselves to be, in a word, awesome: Carly's got some of the strongest pipes ever heard on the show and her rendition of "Come Together" was stellar from first note to last.

Meanwhile, White, who seems to be the polar opposite of Smithson in terms of her countenance, personal life and voice, played and sang a beautifully tender version of "Let It Be" and then got teary in a completely genuine way over how thrilled she was to be in the competition.

Who's it going to be — the beer-slinging tattooed Irish lass or the blond nanny who's never seen an R-rated movie? Only time will tell.

(Winner: Smithson, by a hair; you can't argue with those pipes.)

Randy vs. Reality: I don't know if it's that the guy is so busy "dawging" it up, telling contestants to "check it out" and that they "started out kinda rough," but his commentary is getting less and less relevant all the time.

It seems like whenever someone delivers an amazing performance, he tells them it was so-so and he praises some that aren't all that great. I have to say that I think the guy's getting kinda rough himself.

(Winner: Reality — for the moment. Please come back, Randy.)

David Archuleta vs. His Nerves: Forgetting his words? Obsessively licking his lips? Did the pressure of being the Second Coming cause him to break down? What happened to our Boy Wonder?

(Winner: Archuleta — or at least he'd better be; otherwise, millions of girls worldwide may well have breakdowns themselves.)

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