Why we dig

American Idol

: LaKisha, looking the whole night like she knew what was coming, schooling herself not to cry and to remember the words to "Stayin' Alive," finally gets the ax after the goofy group-hug uprising against Ryan.

And you feel that tug, as you realize she's the only one with a real personality; she's funny; she's got that kiss thing with Simon; we're missing her already; she's the real deal, from Flint, a bank teller, the little girl at home; we're glad we got to know her and hear her sing, we hope she makes it anyway. Don't go, LaKisha!

But that was just five minutes. Then there was the rest of the show, the Ryan Atrocities, the 55 minutes during which we felt like we were visiting our good friends and all they're doing is inviting other friends over or else they're running errands or you're wondering when will they just sit down already?

And we're left trying to figure out, when did that funny little kitschy show called American Idol turn into a telethon and a pageant and, worse, a vehicle for the careers of anyone whose agents can negotiate them onto the show or into the audience? Bill Maher? Please.

Why was Pink performing last night, because the tape didn't make it into the Idol-Gives-Itself-a-Pat-on- the-Back two-day thing? At least come up with a better reason for us, before the show becomes completely like the second coming of the Smothers Brothers. Only not funny.

And worse, why was there like a 12-minute discussion of a new movie, whose title we will not mention because that would be just doing what they want? Why? Go away and leave us alone, publicity departments all over the globe! Find your own show. Buy a commercial. Oh, they did that too.

See the American Idol jokes turn stale. Oooh, Simon and Paula switch seats! See Simon clap like Paula, and Paula rub her torso like Simon! Is this a rerun?

See Blake show he doesn't care what Simon says! He's not even listening, he tells Ryan, because he's "in the moment" after his performance. (Maybe he was listening to Diana Ross.)

Everyone has forgotten that Simon is the most interesting thing about the show. We want to hear what he has to say (and not just "Haven't finished!" as he's cut off), and the performers are supposed to care. And why has Randy stopped saying "Dawg"?

The contestants now think they're bigger than Simon, and everyone thinks they're bigger than the show itself. Ryan thinks he's bigger than the contestants, metaphorically of course, not literally, because literally, he is smaller than all the contestants, and it's getting a little weird, especially compared to Jordin, who towers over everyone left, and all you can think about when Jordin and Ryan are side by side is, "Ryan's so little!" The only thing to say about Barry Gibb's performance of Jordin Sparks' rendition of "To Love Somebody" is that (props to Randy) it felt like a strange discotheque in a foreign country. Please, please, please, as Fiona Apple would say, no more mentoring. Unless it's Fiona Apple.

Of the final three, Blake Lewis needs to leave the beat-boxing aside for next show and bring his original vibe back. I think the Melinda Doolittle run will end - is a boring professional backup singer really what this show is about? Blake and Jordin will go head-to-head. Or at least head-to-ribcage.

As for the winner, we side with the kid interviewed at the (again, why?) Hollywood Farmer's Market: The Lakers! At least their run has ended, unlike this show.

Contact staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 609-823-0453 or arosenberg@phillynews.com.

Dave on Demand's Prediction

If, in fact, an older audience has taken over

American Idol

this season, Melinda will stay and Jordin will go. In previous years, the kid would certainly have stayed in the picture. Sadly, she must go. That'll teach her to tower over Ryan.