As discussed at length in last night's recap, the first round of performances last night went uncommented upon by the judges in the interest of saving time. Then, randomly (Ryan Seacrest later blamed it on Mike Darnell, Fox's head of reality programming), they brought all the contestants on stage midway through the show and asked the judges to offer quick comments on those first songs. Randy, in maybe the greatest Randy moment ever was forced to use all of his cliches in the same soundbyte. And then Pauler, beautiful, crazy, incoherent, wonderful Pauler, began runng through her comments about Jason Castro's first song, and then his second -- and it took Randy and Ryan a good 30 seconds to explain to her that Jason hadn't sung his second song yet.
You can watch this glorious fiasco for yourself on YouTube, and Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch blog has a hilarious account of what this all looked like for the people in the studio. (I somehow imagine Nigel Lythgoe frantically waving his arms as we hear him yell "NOOOOO!!!!!" in slow motion.)
Immediately, the "Idol" blogosphere and message boards lit up with the same three theories I broached last night:
- Paula was whacked out of her mind on booze, or pills, or her own special brand of crazy and had no idea who had sung what, or maybe even where she was
- Paula had watched the dress rehearsal performances -- Nigel and the other judges have said in the past that they watch a feed of them from their dressing rooms, because it's too hard to hear anything in the actual studio -- taken notes, and got confused due to the aforementioned booze, pills or special crazy brand
- Paula has no idea what any of these people sound like and has her comments scripted for her by Nigel and company, and the last-minute switcheroo was too much for her to handle, so she kept on reading what they had given her.
That said, watching Pauler and team "Idol" scramble around to explain this has been very funny. Last night, Paula told the syndicated infotainment shows (including "The Insider") that her mistake was in reading her notes on David Cook and applying it to Jason. One problem: her comments on Jason song #2 began with her complaining that he wasn't trying hard enough, and moments later, she said that David Cook was wonderful. You can't really reconcile the two, and anyone who watches the show -- even the idiots in the studio who boo Simon even when he's trying to say something nice -- can tell that Paula's lying.
And then, today she went on Seacrest's radio show for phase two of the damage control -- phase three will no doubt come tonight during the results show, in a segment so long and contrived and awkward that it'll make the Zapruder film of Simon rolling his eyes at Chris Richardson last year feel natural -- and came up with a different explanation. Now even Paula's going with theory #2, that she took notes on the dress rehearsal -- but, somehow, only saw Jason perform at that rehearsal -- and got confused because of the curveball that Darnell forced on the show.
Again, I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist, but what's the explanation going to be by tonight? Will she be blaming her ear medication? Simon playing a practical joke on her by slipping in some forged notes that she read by mistake? Aurora borealis? If she really just got confused because she had been to dress rehearsal, why didn't she -- or Ryan, for that matter, who's usually good at smoothing over this stuff -- explain it at the moment it happened? And why did she give the bogus David Cook explanation to the infotainment shows, then switch to the rehearsal theory today?
Conspiracy theory or not, here's a more pressing question: what happens if Jason's the lowest vote-getter this week? Do they send him home even though he was forced to perform his second song only moments after he had been told the judges were going to hate it? I don't even like Jason, but that's not cool. Might we get some kind of non-elimination, followed by double-elim next week?
Even by "Idol" scandal standards, this is a weird one.