TV Recap

'American Idol': Never Mind the Bollix...

Glossing over the Paula Abdul controversy, the show sends a sentimental favorite, Brooke White, home

Brooke White, Syesha Mercado, ... | SINGLE WOMAN With Brooke White (right) gone, Syesha Mercado is the sole female contestant standing
SINGLE WOMAN With Brooke White (right) gone, Syesha Mercado is the sole female contestant standing

'Idol' recap: A sad farewell

If Tuesday night's performance episode of American Idol was, as Simon called it, ''officially the strangest'' in the show's seven-season history, then tonight's results-show edition was perhaps its most disappointing.

Which isn't to say that America got it wrong by sending home Brooke White, the wide-eyed nanny who for the last several weeks assumed the role of the show's tortured artiste (emphasis firmly on ''tortured''). Indeed, while Brooke's lovely warble made her a fan favorite early in the season — particularly during her potent one-two-three punch of ''You're So Vain,'' ''Love Is a Battlefield,'' and ''Let It Be'' — the weekly pressures of performing in front of a TV audience of almost 30 million appeared to take a gradual psychological toll on her, culminating in last week's awkwardly flubbed lyrics and thudding false start on Andrew Lloyd Webber's ''You Must Love Me.''

Still, for those who wondered why anyone would keep voting for a contestant who'd begun to resemble (musically speaking) a dehydrated marathon runner staggering through the final mile, limbs covered in ''energy gel,'' arms reaching out for the dreaded foil poncho, Brooke at least redeemed herself on Tuesday with her final number, a gut-wrenching, piano-driven take on ''I Am...I Said.'' The woman may not be ready to pack a football stadium, but put her in a more intimate setting, and her career forecast may be all blue skies and sunshine.

That said, here's hoping that whatever path Brooke pursues, she'll avoid a reprise of ''I'm a Believer,'' her significantly less successful Neil Diamond cover. Although Brooke tried to convince Ryan Seacrest tonight that she'd ''genuinely had a good time'' with the song on Tuesday, I still contend her petrified smile told a very different tale. And I'm not alone on this one. My sister Debby called me this afternoon to tell me that midway though ''I'm a Believer,'' my 8-year-old nephew Sam looked up at her and declared, ''Mom, that's a good song, but I don't like the way the lady is singing it.''

And to think the kid didn't have to attend Brooke's dress rehearsal or rely on a crib sheet to cook up his priceless one-liner!

Oh, snap! You didn't think I'd forgotten about Paulagate in the last 24 hours, did you?

Indeed, though the basic outline of tonight's results show could be summed up as ''Boys to the safety couch; ladies to center stage to await elimination,'' I spent the whole hour waiting for the Idol production team, or more specifically executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, to get sent to the naughty mat for a much needed time-out.

Instead, my jaw dropped when Ryan glossed over last night's fiasco — during which Paula Abdul critiqued both of Jason Castro's songs, even though he'd performed only one — by saying, ''Last night, the judges were thrown a curveball on the air, which is just part of our live show. But it sparked a lot of gossip about Paula. I read some of this online this morning, and just for the record, the rumors — they're not true. She's part of our family, and we love her.''

Excuse me?

First of all, no one was asking for Idol to address any ''rumors.'' And as for all that talk of ''family,'' well, let's be honest — sometimes we all need a little tough love from our blood relations.

NEXT: What should have been said

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