The headline from

American Idol

last week was, of course, the big buh-buhya for Sanjaya.

Oh, Mr. Malakar, we hardly knew ye.

Well, we knew ye couldn't hardly sing. And we knew ye kept the curling irons of the A.I. hairdressers set on "high."

But nobody knew exactly what it was that kept you in the running for so long. Or why last week - country music week - your pixie magic finally fizzled.

All anyone can say for certain is that the 17-year-old Malakar's anemic rendition of Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" proved to be his last straw.

Maybe it was the red Hee Haw bandana he wore in his hair. Or maybe it was when he stood next to those hard-working backup singers on live television, carrying on in a completely different key.

Whatever triggered the nation's snap back to reality, 38 million voters decided they'd seen enough of the wide-eyed waif with the wavy tresses.

Despite what seemed like sincere and constructive mentoring by the beautiful Martina McBride, the week proved to be pretty weak on musical standouts. Jordin Sparks continued her climb into the good graces of the judges, and the audience, with her rendition of McBride's own "A Broken Wing." But powerhouse LaKisha Jones and beat-box boy Blake Lewis' attempts at being a little bit country got them herded straight into the bottom-three corral.

Simon Cowell also found himself in hot water when it appeared as if he had sarcastically rolled his eyes after Chris Richardson offered condolences on Tuesday to students at Virginia Tech. Cowell hurried to clear things up on Wednesday, saying that the eye- rolling was a reaction to Richardson's defense of what Cowell had called nasal singing.

"I may not be the nicest person in the world," Cowell said. "But I would never, ever, ever disrespect those families or those victims."

This week: Idol goes benevolent, staging a high-wattage star-a-ganza for charity featuring Celine Dion, Helen Mirren, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox and more.

Dave on Demand's Prediction

This is a tricky one to call because the theme this week is inspirational songs. That would seem to bode poorly for Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis, the remaining finalists with the thinnest voices. But I'm going with Phil Stacey as the reject. Whether that qualifies as a prediction or just wishful thinking is for you to decide.