American Idol, as is increasingly common, began with platitudes and ended with a travesty. After an hour of cliche smoothies, repeat Coldplay performances and "Set Fire to the Rain," the most interesting contestant left the show: Skylar Laine, whose "Stay With Me" got our editor-in-chief to predict she'd win, long before the top 12 were even chosen.

No, but really, how did this happen? This wasn't supposed to happen. She was supposed to have the country vote, and the heartland vote, and the "shit, looks like there's only one dynamic performer left on this show" vote. You knew she knew it was coming; she's the only contestant picking songs you might actually hear on a current radio format, and ever since she did a Jason Aldean hit, it was pretty obvious the end goal was country radio and not becoming Idol's May queen. If you can't win, get a head start and a single better than this year's victory slop! It worked for Kellie Pickler (Idol midpack) and Miranda Lambert (Nashville Star also-ran). I don't necessarily think Skylar's got a guaranteed career--her immediate short-term goal is to prove to non-watchers why she's not another Lauren Alaina. But she's got a shot.

Nevertheless, it's still irritating to see Idol shed one interesting performer after another. But that's standard. This part of the show's always--always--when the Daughtries and Allison Irahetas and Latoya Londons of the show leave in favor of worse but more photogenic or marketable or high-Klout-scoring folks. In other words, somebody is this season's Jasmine Trias. I just can't decide who. It's not Joshua Ledet. It probably isn't Jessica Sanchez. Is it Hollie, who has yet to prove she's not secretly a 11-year-old Star Search soprano? Phillip, who has yet to prove he's not secretly being sedated? Actually, this line of thought makes me feel sedated. I'm going to sit it out.

LEAST DISPLAY OF GIVE-A-DAMN:Phillip, who literally spat out the gum he was chewing on stage. See above.

LEAST DISPLAY OF SHAME IN FILLER: Coldplay got two separate songs. Nobody else this season has gotten two songs. To be fair, this worked out in Coldplay's favor; "Paradise" had about as much working falsetto as Phillip's "Time of the Season"--yes, it still bugs me--but "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" was basically OK.

MOST DESERVING OF GETTING TWO SONGS INSTEAD: At some point, we need to talk about the Celinification of Carrie Underwood. This isn't that point; title track "Blown Away" is dramatic and angsty and torrential enough, even if it does mean every TV appearance she does will contain the same bad pun. But speaking of TV performances, isn't she supposed to be pushing "Good Girl"? Where was that? There could have been that. It would've been more timely than both Coldplay songs.

BEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN, FOR A SECOND: You guys, in the annual half-a-music-video thing, they dressed Hollie up as a fairy princess who's dramatically freed from some kind of Rapunzel scenario. They read us. They really, really read us. (They disregard everything we say, but that's not uncommon.)

MOST DUBIOUS COMMENT ON SINGING AND STYLE: Jimmy Iovine saying that Jessica's "Proud Mary" didn't work because her dress was "too racy." She was wearing a plain black sheath dress: something so common, so unremarkable, that it has its own acronym. (It's even pretty tame! Have you been in a department-store juniors' dress section lately? Or even years ago, when I was 15 and owned something with a mesh cutout on the side? Not that I recommend that now....)

But let's not fault Jimmy for not knowing women's clothing. They should hire somebody special for this. Something like a full-time stylist position, or a style adviser, something like that. Hey, wasn't Tommy Hilfiger supposed to have a pretty prominent mentoring role on this show? Where is the continui--oh, forget it.

LEAST NECESSARY, NOW AND FOREVER: When Idol nets 10,000 tweets, it will unlock an exclusive video! I'd tell the people responsible to go play Achievement Unlocked to completion and then consider the term, but I think the joke might go over their head.

MOST LIKELY QUOTE TO HAVE MADE RECORD EXECS SILENTLY EXPLODE: Joshua Ledet, arguably the most purely talented singer in the competition, said this: "I don't want to make somehing people hear on radio and think "Oh, Josh again." Oh, Josh. Oh no. Let's just hope this becomes really ironic when your throwback R&B track tops the charts. Let's hope it doesn't result in more media-training lockdown. Why are we hoping for so much? Because on Idol, you're one of our few remaining hopes. Remember that.