Syeshamercado_americanidol7_top12paAfter a Tuesday show that saw the musical attributes of the American Idol Top Five overshadowed by Paula Abdul’s perplexing and new-found ability to predict the future, which contestant would be heading home on Wednesday (April 30)? And why can’t Paula just tell us the results in advance and save me an hour?

8:59 p.m. ET "You know more about these contestants than any other season," Ryan Seacrest says as part of his opening spiel, warning us that somebody will be heading home tonight. But is that really true? I know Jason Castro can’t form a complete sentence, Syesha Mercado can cry like a baby, Brooke White can cry like a baby (but in a different way), David Archuleta wants to end world hunger and David Cook has high blood pressure. Is that really so much knowledge?

9:00 p.m. Kristy Lee Cook is in the audience, as pretty as ever. Somehow I don’t miss her voice.

9:01 p.m. It appears that 45 million votes were cast last night.

9:02 p.m. The Group Sing is a Tribute to Neil Diamond, starting with "Cracklin’ Rose." After several weeks of choreography-free songs, the producers have faced the limitations of what the show should be advertising as the Least Coordinated Top Five Ever. They’re asked to, um, switch places on a platform and it looks awkward. The song progresses into "Song Sung Blue" and it’s nearly unbearable. Brooke, Syesha and even David all sound dreadful. It’s only when we transition to "Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show" and David Archuleta is every bit as joylessly cult-friendly as I could have hoped for that the Group Sing finds its spirit. Naturally, that’s where it ends.

9:08 p.m. Gina Glocksen and Constantine Maroulis have been in the audience nearly every week, since they’re hosting a Fox Reality series. For some reason we’ve decided that this is the week to draw attention to them and let them plug their product. Nobody asks Ace Young to plug anything. Poor Ace Young.

9:10 p.m. In our 2.5 minute salute to Tuesday’s show, will we also give a nod to Paula’s augury? I imagine her frantically sifting through the entrails of pigeons during commercial breaks. "Oh, Jason. The signs point to an ill omen in your second performance."

9:11 p.m. The clips of the mid-show judicial interlude skips Paula’s prognostication. Ryan has been good about addressing most of this season’s scandals that didn’t relate to male stripping, so we still have nearly 45 minutes for him to bring it up.

Paulaabdul_americanidol7_2409:12 p.m. Yup. Good Ol’ Reliable Ryan. He vaguely addresses his doddering colleague by saying, "The rumors are not true. She’s part of our family. And we love her." Wait. That addressed almost none of the rumors, unless you count TMZ’s borderline libelous suggestion that just because one  waiter said he served Paula a drink at lunch, she was probably drunk. It didn’t even vaguely touch on whether Paula bases her absurdist comments on dress rehearsal performances. Nor did it hint at whether she reads the bumps on contestants’ heads before each show to predict their upcoming success or failure.

9:13 p.m. We’re already shunting contestants off to Cerberus’ Chairs and the Saintly Sofa. Jason Castro is called out first. Clifford the Muppet admits that he didn’t necessarily connect to either of his critically shredded Tuesday songs. But it meant nothing. He’s safe for another week. And I’m already wondering if I can go watch the Red Sox and the Celtics and return in 45 minutes, save myself some annoyance.

9:14 p.m. Presumptive American Idol Finalist David Archuleta is up next. Without a single trip to the Bottom Three to date, surely Li’l’ Archie is safe, right? He admits he could have looked like he was having more fun, but that didn’t matter either. He’s safe for another week. If I’m being honest, I’d have Archuleta pegged for a surprising trip to the Bottom Three this week, a shocker that would mobilize his fanbase and ease his inevitable run to glory.

9:21 p.m. Cat Deeley is just one of several reasons why it could be easily argued that So You Think You Can Dance! is like American Idol only better. That doesn’t mean that I have to sit through an extended commercial for the summer series, not when I could check to see if the C’s have remembered how to play basketball.

9:24 p.m. Out next is Presumptive American Idol Finalist David Cook. The Leader has lost a lot of weight in recent weeks. I wish to buy him a pizza, except for what that would do to his blood pressure. The men are all safe tonight, leaving Syesha and The Nanny facing nearly a half-hour of nervous tension.

9:26 p.m. Ryan reads the evaluations for both singers, making like he’s actually going to give somebody the boot with 30 minutes to go in the episode. Then he sends them over to the couch under false pretenses, though Brooke earns a laugh with "We’ll stay as long as we can."

9:32 p.m. This week’s performing British import is Natasha Bedingfield, who I can’t meaningfully distinguish from Sienna Miller except that one appears to sing and the other prefers to be caught topless at the beach by the paparazzi.

9:36 p.m. Well, I was liking this Natasha Bedingfield bird before she insisted on going over and giving Li’l’ Archie a kiss on the cheek. It’s not as creepy as Billy Crystal hitting on Hannah Montana at Idol Gives Back, but still…

Simoncowell_americanidol6_2409:37 p.m. I had hoped that last week’s absence of viewer questions was a sign of things to come. I was wrong. Paula, sounding much clearer tonight, says that singing is hard and that’s why she coddles contestants. The second question also goes to Paula, as tonight’s goal appears to be showcasing her relative sanity. Some woman claiming to be Simon’s first kiss gets the third question, causing him to snort into his Coca-Cola cup. Simon showcases a disarmingly human side by vividly remembering the woman in question. Can we please bring her to the finale?

9:46 p.m. You know what would be a great theme? Donovan Night. Isn’t "Catch the Wind" already used in a different car commercial? That makes this week’s Ford ad even duller.

9:47 p.m. Neil Diamond sings "Pretty Amazing Grace." The Celtics have a double-digit lead. Watching Diamond perform, I can feel the show’s demographics aging up by the second. Goodness. And how old must his mother be? At least she wasn’t the one who insisted he become a rabbi when he really wanted to head out to Los Angeles to become a jazz singer.

9:52 p.m. Is Simon joking when he says that he and Neil have a history? Did it involve kissing in the garden when Simon was 10?

9:56 p.m. It’s finally time to eliminate somebody. And no, Ryan, the loser doesn’t "literally" go home in 30 seconds.

Brookewhite_americanidol7_top12part9:57 p.m. Brooke knows she’s done before Ryan says her name and she’s already bawling.

9:58 p.m. I somehow don’t think those kids are getting their nanny back.

9:59 p.m. Brooke thanks America, but tells them that this is going to be terrible for her. You made Brooke White cry, America! For that, you’re going to go have a Time Out.

9:59 p.m. It’s fitting that Brooke has to restart her exit song twice. It’s become an Idol cliche that the departing singers are almost always better on their exit encores because the pressure’s off and the emotion is high. This is really, really, really not the case with Brooke.

Thoughts on this week’s results? You gonna miss Brooke?

And, as always, check out Zap2it’s Guide to American Idol.

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg