Paula flirts with Ace while Simon and Randy panic

The American Idol 5 top 10 performed songs that were actually popular during their lifetimes last night, taking away Taylor’s advantage for the first time. (Oh, I kid the old man and his gray hair.) But they didn’t do a very good job. “Most contestants got criticism or lukewarm praise, and even Positive Paula Abdul was a little crankier than normal,” MSNBC’s Craig Berman writes.

But Paula perked up when Ace performed Train’s Drops of Jupiter–although not because of his performance. During the part of the song where the lyrics say “permanent scar,” Ace pulled open his partially unbuttoned shirt to reveal a substantial scar on his chest. He sort of jabbed at it, although in the closing montage, he stroked it. (That was even more awkward evidence that the montage footage comes from dress rehearsals, which FOX says is unavoidable because it’s impossible to repeat footage from a live show later in the broadcast; if only someone could invent a magic machine that could allow instant replays of things we’ve just seen on live television!)

Anyway, after she criticized his song choice, Paula said, “Is that a scar you were showing us?” Staring at the judges with that blank, empty, TJ Lavin look that he’s perfected, Ace said, “It’s a real scar, yeah. I got a real scar on my chest. Paula replied, “One day you’ll have to explain to me how you got that one,” and just about the time she said “me,” you could basically hear every FOX PA racing to find defibrillators in order to resuscitate the network’s execs and the show’s producers.

Simon and Randy immediately but cautiously tried to stop her, as if she were a crazy woman dangling an infant out the window of a speeding car. “Paula,” Simon said, while Randy said, “Oh, listen! Paula! Oh, no no no! Control yourself!” Simon then said, more forcefully, “Thank you, Paula!”

“What are you talking about?” Paula said with mock innocence, as if whatever she’s on caused her to have severe memory loss, leading her to forget about that whole Corey Clark thing.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.