Well they really tried, didn't they? After last week's unmitigated disaster, all the singing kids had to do their best to buoy this season back up. Did they succeed? Did they fail? Yes on both counts!

Ohhh they were selling a Redemption narrative just so hard last night, weren't they? All the judges were paid an extra ten grand to say "SOOOOooooo much better than last week, [boy]!" So much better, America! We promise! American Idol isn't dead! Here, audience, show your support for Idol, which has given you so much. Applaud, applaud, applaud! That will keep it alive, alive forever.

They really did try that on us, and it sort of worked. A coupla times we did get big watery grins and say "Oh they're back." I mean, not that intensely, but there were a few glimmers. Maybe the boys aren't so bad. Or maybe they are.

The Good
Didn't Carol Brady do so well? I mean, we knew she could sing. But without the hobo costume, was there anything there? Last week she was sooooo nervous, staring creepily into the camera and murmuring song words. Plus her son Greg Brady got eliminated last Thursday, so that probably made her really sad. But you know what? Despite all that, she still persevered. She sang a nice little guitar song and her Carol Brady mullet bounced bravely behind her and Kara smiled and let the wind sweep even more through her hair. (Seriously, what in the Sam Hill was going on with her stormy head fur last night? It was unreal.) Simon was very impressed and he blew Carol a kiss and Carol tee-hee'd in his winning, boyish way and Hold Onto Yer Butts, I think we may have a blossoming contender in our midst. Once he loses that mullet and loosens up even more, he could be mooning and gooning and crooning with the likes of little Krissy Allen in Idol heaven (a houseboat in Naples, FL) pretty soon.

Who else was good. Um... I still don't think that John Park is as bad as the judges are saying he is. His notes are leeeettle off, sure. But he's not totally whiffing it like a lot of other contestants. I mean, he doesn't embarrass himself terribly while singing. That's the rubric we're using to determine the frontrunners this season. Do they woefully embarrass themselves and shame their families while performing? No? OK then. They'll probably win.

The Bad
Jermaine Sellers. What exactly IS going on there? Why did he make it this far? I wonder if the judges just liked his sassy personality. He's a mix of snappy and "God-fearin'". He really likes to drop that church thing, doesn't he? Everything's all, "You should come to church with me and see how I really sing." But... Jermaine, if that's how you really sing, then shouldn't you be there, singing? And no offense, but I'm sure you are a good singer for your church. But this is a national competition. There are a million other Best Singers At Their Churches who all want the same thing you do. It's not enough. Plus: the outfits. Ohhh the outfits. Last week it was Brechtian Ring Master. This week it was Urban Pee-Wee Herman. It's just too much. Too many embellishments. His clothes are like his singing! Nothing fits right and it's all a bit overdone and I don't think anyone understands it. I really think he ought to go home this week. Though I will sort of miss the performance outfits. Next week was going to be Georgian-era Street Walker. Sigh.

Our Latino Egghead who we were all so in love with? WTF was that last night? It's like someone put a big melon by the side of his bed on Monday night and when he woke up he looked like Egghead Latino but he was really some sort of soft-sided Danny Gokey. It was just a mess. There he was singing some sorta slow R&B growl-jam that just didn't feel right. It felt like capitulating, it felt like compromise. And of course after whining last week about things being too non-traditional, wild-maned Kara had to stumblespeak about how it was boring and staid and whatever. The judges were actually doing that all night, contradicting themselves. "Yo dawg, I wanna see you change it up, do something fresh! For me, for you, make it new! I'm rhymin' here!" And then a minute later to someone else, "Hey that's a great song. Why are you changing it? Just sing the song. It doesn't need anything new." How are any of the kids supposed to take anything away from that? I mean, I suppose they deserve to lose if they were taking Randy, or anyone but Simon, seriously in the first place, but still. The judges just have no idea what they're saying, ever. And it is too bad.

The Mystery Boys
What is one to make of Tim Urban? Sure he looks like a cast member from a gender-reversed remake of Little Darlings directed by Mike Jeffries, and that is mildly intriguing, but he's also such a resplendent dope of a person, isn't he? Just singing his silly songs with his silly grin and brown corn silk hair. I mean, he ain't goin' anywhere. Oh lawd no. That child is in this for the haul, I assume. I think. I mean, if Sanjaya can do it... Lord if Chicken Little can do it! Tim Urban must do it. Even though he wears white pants. Can you believe he wore white pants? White pants. And a red shirt. On national television. While strumming a little guitar. And wearing Muzzy's head like a hat. He's so confusing. He's hilarious, and yet he's also awful. What can we do with him?

And what are we going to do with this poor little sixteen year old who has chosen to struggle with some internal issues on the most watched television show in America? It just seems so mean. Kid is a child, and he's be-bopping all over the place while everyone sighs and snickers. At least the judges seem to like him. You know who I'm talking about, right? That kid. Who wears the chain, the confirmation necklace or whatever. Yeah, him. He's just so... What is he? What is he doing? Does anyone get what's going on there? Again, the judges are into it. The judges are digging it. But I am not picking up what he is laying down. Does anyone else get his jive? Or is it really all complete bunk? If you have an answer for me, that'd be real marvy.

Abusing Authority
Did anyone else notice just how touchy-feely Ryan was last night? He was alllll over Carol Brady like he was made of churros. Just wanted to take a big amusement park bite out of him. Poor Carol was a little uncomfortable ("Oh, Miiiike...") but you know he secretly liked it. Legends and whispers sweep through the studio about Ryan's Boys. They're much like Paula's Men, those dudes she'd sleep with during the week and favor during the broadcast. It's good to be one of Ryan's Boys. It was good to be one of Kara's Boys, but apparently something happened. Casey Johnson? The toucan wearing a Jessica Lange wig? Yeah, Kara has been in lurrrrve with him. But then something must have happened, because last night she wasn't just critical. She was deliberately mean. She called him dirt. Dirt! As if this was an after school special from the '70s. "Oh that Jimmy Jenkins is real dirt, Judy." It was kind of embarrassing. I really wonder what happened. Do you think it had anything to do with why her hair looked like there was a small tornado outside of the Vidal Sassoon Training Academy? I hope it did. I think it did. I believe.