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Previously on American Idol: all the kids sang twice, Neil Diamond was around to be cautiously optimistic for and ultimately let down by them, and Paula had a great deal of trouble with the time/space continuum. It was definitely an uneven show. Tonight, Neil himself will perform and one of our top 5 will be eliminated. Plus I think Paula will be revealing the winner of our November presidential election. But that might just be a rumor.

Good to Bad to Worse

KLC’s in the house tonight! My own personal source of disappointment this week stems from her not having been there to sing “America.” Oh well, there’s always the finale. We’re plunging right into the group-sing tonight; excluding karaoke fests, I am ignorant of almost all things Neil Diamond, so this might be a bit of a struggle for me. Jason starts us off nicely with something called “Cracklin’ Rosie,” Little David joins him, and then Big David gets to be a rock star off by himself before everyone actually does some very nice harmonizing to finish it off. Brooke and Syesha usher in the end of the goodness with a very flat duet of “Song Sung Blue,” and to close it out everyone sounds pretty horrible on “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” which really sounds like a cool song, so too bad.

Some old Idols are in the audience because they have an Idol-related TV show, but nothing much has changed with them. Gina Glocksen is still having a torrid love affair with her liquid eyeliner. Constantine is still a skeeze. Ryan forces him to make an especially skeezy face into the camera, and I look away because I do not want to be turned into a pillar of salt. There’s your standard glossy clip recap of last night’s shenanigans with Neil talking about how much he wanted to help, but you don’t need any of that because the wise and witty AJane has already got the highs and lows all conveniently wrapped up with a hilarious bow on top.

The Ringmaster

So, as we all know by now, our very favorite Girl Drink Drunk had too many Chocolate Choo Choos last night and turned all over psychic, nattering on about Jason’s second song when he had only done one. She looks near tears tonight at Ryan’s broaching of this newest crazy mark on her record; Ryan uses this opportunity for damage control to obliquely and noncommittally say that everyone loves Paula and she is a part of the Idol Family. Yes, she is the part that you keep up in the attic and only speak of in hushed tones until it’s time to have Thanksgiving dinner. Way to not address anything, Seacrest. This show would crack into a million pieces without him, I swan.

Anyway, Paula. I still think you’re awesome. Even though I always mock you, and even when you give away the show and make things awkward for kids who have to sing on live TV right after you call them charmless and uninspiring. Still.

Results time now. Ryan trots dear dippy Jason out first and spares him a bunch of suspense in telling him he is safe, perhaps to make up for the railroading he got last night. Archuleta is up next, and he gets an all too piercing and opportune question about him being possibly being a man-child performer-bot instead of a fun-loving teenage boy. Stop reading the boards, American Idol. David and I are both uncomfortable as he stumbles to find words that will convince us that he can be fun and he is having fun. Poor kid. I believe him not at all, because as Ryan directs him over to the safety zone he looks like he could break in two he’s so tense with the nerves.

A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

Really, really extended preview now of SYTYCDWTHOMGBBQ, so please watch it because otherwise this $10 million worth of airtime will have been wasted in vain. And please watch extra hard to make up for me, because no way can I take a summer full of Mary Murphy.

AI loves to keep us busy, so they had a contest to redesign the judges’ Coke cups, and Ryan makes a big show of asking Randy to model them because he “used to be a model.” I’m assuming it was some time before the pinky ring industry got totally played out. Randy hams it up for the audience, and everyone claps, and I am glad I do not drink soda.

David Cook! Are you squeeing yet? I’m laughing because as he walks out, Syesha is backstage wearing a hilarious face of resignation having figured out that she’s bottom two yet again. Ryan asks him what he thinks of Paula’s declaring him the winner and he responds that Simon’s similar remark to Carly sent her home last week. Ryan assures him that Paula is wiser than Simon and he is indeed totally safe for the week. He then officially welcomes Brooke and Syesha back to the bottom two and goes over what all the judges said about them both. Syesha is simpering like a pro and Brooke is grinning like a maniac as they both talk about how difficult it is sometimes to hear the judges’ critiques. Brooke also babbles about picking herself up after Simon called her a nightmare and going out and releasing the tension on her second song. Just in time.

Full Filler Throttle

The girl who sings The Hills theme song is here now to sing something that’s not that. I had no idea she was from British. She and her band give us some peppy house-ish number about sunshine and better days, and I realize she has a really lovely and lush voice under all those dumb lyrics. When she’s done Ryan tries to augment her tenuous connection to relevance on this show by asking her if she remembers going through any grueling auditions process like our kids had to do. She doesn’t of course, but she sympathizes anyway. Ryan plays as if he’s going to let the judges judge her performance, but ha ha! it’s just a joke. He then motions her off stage, but Natasha has other plans; she doubles back round to hop up to the safety couches and plant a kiss on David Archuleta’s cheek. This is much to the surprise of both Davids, the unkissed one having stood expectantly before being rejected. Ha. I also find it so funny how everything in the world is conspiring to convince us that David is some sort of potent seducer of women. Ryan turns the whole affair into more teasing about David’s needing a prom date, and Natasha gamely says she’d go if David asked her. David laughs hugely and nervously. Good Lord.

And Lord save me, because after a glorious week off, the consarned viewer questions are making their return. A young boy named Michael wants to know why Paula’s always soft-pedaling. Ryan, full of the compliments and emotional back pats tonight says it’s because she’s sweet. Paula puts on a nanny voice to say some stuff about how hard it is to get up and sing and not hear anything nice. She would know about that! Zing! Some lady from Houma, Louisiana asks if Randy and Paula will ever do another video, and please. I’m not dealing with that.

Last up is a woman who wants everyone to know she once kissed Simon and wants to know if it was better than his kiss with Paula. We can all see the questions up on the huge board long before they’re asked, but everyone in the audience lets out the huge oohs and ahhs and gasps of shock as soon as she finishes her question. Whatever, y’all. Simon remembers her and she remembers him, and maybe nobody remembers Paula’s flub anymore, and isn’t that awesome. Ryan asks if Simon’s a good kisser. As if I didn’t know that you wanted us all to believe you already knew, Seacrest. Some banter about rabies shots and therapy, and then it’s over. You can turn your brain back on now.

Diamond Is Forever

Ford hawking time. The kids sing a very hippie dippy lullaby of “Catch the Wind” as clean graffiti and stand around while flowers spring up from their feet and the world is made new again through the purifying power of the hybrid car. Earth Day is every day.

Neil Diamond in the house. He’s got his acoustic guitar to accompany him on a new song called “Pretty Amazing Grace,” which is either about God or Caroline. Or a woman named Grace? I’m not sure. It turns from moody and dark into almost salsa halfway through which is kind of interesting. His mother is in the audience which is also interesting, and then Neil says he keeps going at this because he loves it and will do music for as long as can. Ryan asks him for the key to longevity in the business, and he says hard work, which is only true when you also have the door of good luck, otherwise you’re kind of screwed. Ryan asks what Neil thought of the judges last night and he basically says Simon is not to be minded. He’s joking, but Ryan wants to stretch it, and so Simon alludes to some longstanding antagonism between him and Neil. What, did Neil kiss Tara Miller too?

Smile, Though Your Heart Is Aching

We’re down to our last three minutes, so there must be some results happening again. Ryan corrals Syesha and Brooke center stage once again, and with almost no buildup he announces that it is indeed Brooke leaving us this evening, meaning that it’ll be Syesha who wins the election in November because she is freaking unstoppable.

Brooke spends a while sobbing on Ryan’s and then Syesha’s shoulders, and then they celebrate her home with the video tribute. She’s smiling widely as she grabs the mic from Ryan and says “thank you” a bunch of times before her song starts. Brooke’s sing-out is painful to watch with all the tears and face crumples; her voice is totally choked with grief, and now I know what it sounds like when doves cry. As much as I enjoyed Brooke’s voice and style in the earlier rounds, I don’t know if I want her to pursue a music career anymore. We would just hear of her falling apart, and see her on the Extra Inside Hollywood hour, reduced to a pile of sand and a puff of blonde hair. I’d much rather see her settle down on a comfy sofa with a cup of St. John’s Wort tea, take a few million deep, cleansing breaths, and write a tell-all book about AI behind the scenes. Think about it, Brooke.

Meanwhile, y’all get ready for some rock and roll! Next week I believe the theme has something to do with the Cleve’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; should be tons of fun, now that we’ve gotten rid of all of the rockers but one!

Which Idol would make the better president: Archie the Earnest or Syesha the Stalwart? Cast your vote in the straw poll here.