Gilbert Cruz
December 04, 2006 AT 12:00 PM EST

It’s the holidays, the one time of the year I allow myself to feel, and my heart reaches out in different but equally genuine ways to both Jessica Simpson and Clay Aiken.

Let’s take Aiken first because his is the susbtantially less egregious incident. You can click here to see Clay performing “All is Well” and botching a high note TWICE to the sound of both applause and audience guffaws. While Stereogum recommends the 3:40 mark, the moment really comes around 3:55. It’s funny the first two times, but afterwards, it’s nothing more than watching someone embarassing themselves, which always makes me feel awkward (don’t get me started on Borat).

Thankfully, though, there doesn’t seem to be a clip of Simpson’s gaffe (unless CBS cruelly decides not to edit this out when they broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 26). Performing in front of Steven Spielberg, Dolly Parton and Smokey Robinson, Simpson stopped in the middle of singing “Nine to Five” and suddenly walked off stage, later returning in tears. Why? Maybe because after a year of being hounded by tabloid dogs, she managed to mess up what I can imagine is one of her favorite songs (and a foot stomping good one at that) in front of the president, one of the nation’s greatest film directors, and the iconic woman who wrote and popularized the song in the first place. I’m surprised she even came back on stage. So, poor Jessica and Clay (the first and last time I’ll write that).

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