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AI: Idols Sparkle, But Paula Shines

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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"This is officially the strangest show we've ever done." Those words from judge Simon Cowell made for a good summary of Neil Diamond night on American Idol, a tightly packed—for once!—hour in which each of the final five singers had two chances to make Neil Diamond contemporary.

More on that in a moment.

What officially made the show the strangest its ever been was ever-batty judge Paula Abdul. Like most viewers, we spent a good portion of Abdul's airtime searching her eyes for signs of an earlier drug binge, and though it cannot be verified, Abdul's utter senselessness hinted at a pill-popping session of Anna Nicole magnitude, culminating in one of her worst gaffes ever: critiquing a performance that hadn't even happened yet.

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