Ah, Brooke White! Willowy, peanut-brittle fragile Brooke White. Wasn't it just yesterday that America witnessed you struggling not to crack under the pressure of being an American Idol finalist: unsuccessfully fighting back tears, begging the judges for do-overs after flubbing introductions, making viewers wish we could console you with hugs and Kleenex? What a difference a year makes. Last night you returned to Idol's piano stool with serious confidence, with a new single, with helpful advice for the current season's crop - "Stay true to yourselves, don't Google your name" - with your trademark goldilocks in place. We're not gonna buy "Hold Up" or anything, but we liked it okay, and we hadn't realized until now just how much we'd missed you - and trying to guestimate when you'd puke and pass out onstage from the stress.
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That Brooke's return was the most exciting aspect of last night's show - and the only justifiable piece of padding pasted in to help fill out an hour that easily could've been pared down to a half-hour - says as much about the overall dull nature of this season as it does about the relative lameness of this week's group. Under ordinary circumstances, I'd crow about how I totally called winners this week; Idol Beat faves Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Allison Iraheta all made it through to the Top 12, which is awesome. Enough's been said about Lambert's "Satisfaction"; Iraheta, despite being a eye-rollingly immature teen chipmunk with atrocious cherry-red highlights, belted out that Heart song like a pro, and Allen's pretty-durn-good cover of Jacko's "Man in the Mirror" was surprisingly spot-on. But there was no real suspense or nail-biting going on as the announcements were dragged out. What a drag! And the losers? They were weirdly indifferent in defeat; no Tatiana-style meltdowns last night. One note: Jeanine Vailes' long, tasty legs were the only asset of hers that might have saved her from elimination. Sadly, for prurient leches everywhere, they weren't enough. Idol Beat OUT! Let's end with another reading from the Book of Sanjaya: "I played to the camera big time. I smiled a whole lot, and I was having such a good time that it was my actual smile the viewers saw, not the Fan Smile."