American Idol: Adam Lambert and Diddy

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Ashton: The exit was needlessly harsh

My first question: How are they going to fill an hour getting rid of one person (when Survivor does it at the end of the show in about five minutes)?

Answer: The 13 contestants engage in a Michael Jackson medly, a couple of shots of the Idol mansion (a giant Beverly Hills house converted into a luxury hostel where the boys and the girls each share a giant bedroom), a long, bizarre promo for a movie, and a music video for Ford. That, plus a stunning performance the great Adam Lambert and a mediocre gig by Diddy -- and the requisite amount of melodrama and tears.

The Jackson thing wasn't so bad, and some of the singers were great. The mansion is what you'd expect -- except that it must be built for 20 bedrooms but has been converted to force all the contestants to bunk in some sort of giant rec rooms. Weird.

Then, in an all-new low for Idol (and that's saying something)  the contestants all had to do a commercial for Ford. After than, in another all-new (and utterly transparent) low, they did the equivalent of a movie trailer for Red Riding Hood, featuring a meet and greet with the stars, a lot of trailer shots and some footage of the Idol folks registering shock and alarm as they watched the film. Gawd. The Coke bottles everywhere were bad enough. Now half the show is an ad.

But: How cool is Adam Lambert? I loved his unplugged version of his new song -- or rather, I loved the way he sang it. He's not showing great talent as a songwriter, not yet, anyway, and the words and music were pretty banal. Still: All the profits are going to the "It Gets Better" project.

Diddy's backup singers were great. He wasn't. And I don't think he's donating anything to anyone.

On to the elimination round: Three at a time, I got a little nervous when Karen, my favorite female, was in the bottom three, but it all worked out. Ashton was clearly the weakest of the singers, and we all knew she was going home; it was almost too sad to force her to sing a Diana Ross song (again) and miss some of the notes (again) and cry when the judges said No. I mean, human drama is great, but in the end, this was just needlessly harsh.

On to the round of 12.