One bad performance.
That is what cost Paige Miles a ticket into the American Idol Top 10 and onto the nationwide post-season tour.
It was enough to erase any memory of the 24-year-old's inspired cover of the Rolling Stone's "Honky Tonk Women" a week earlier.
And it is, sadly, the reason we are stuck with Tim Urban for another week.
While I am extremely discouraged that Urban will finish in the Top 10, I can't blame the "Idol" voters for sending Miles packing.
Her cover of Mariah Carey's cover of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" was all-time bad. A mess from the first note to the last. And it really was one of the worst - if not the worst - performances by an American Idol finalist in the show's nine-year tenure. The fact that the judges didn't even waste our time by letting her sing for a "Judges' Save" was proof of that.
Miles herself proved just how bad her performance Tuesday night was when she belted out a terrific rendition of Free's "All Right Now" after being eliminated. Just a few weeks earlier, Simon told Miles that she had the best voice of all the female contestants after she sang the same song. And her version Wednesday night might have been even better, despite coming just a few minutes after Simon said her voice was too bad for her to even sing for the "Judges' Save."
But looking forward to next week, I already have a feeling who will be in the Bottom 3 - Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, and, yes, Urban.
I blame Urban's presence in the Top 10 on teenage voters, "High School Musical" fans, and people like my neighbor who votes for him every week because "it seems like he's trying really hard."
My dog "tries really hard" to catch the squirrel that torments him in our backyard, but the only results he ever gets is a bruised ego and a few acorns dropped on his head. If only they would let squirrels into the American Idol auditorium... our problems would be solved.
And is it too much to ask the "Idol" producers that if they are determined to make us sit through a cheesy choreographed group number - like the cover of Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" the contestants opened Wednesday night's the show with - that they actually make the contestants sing it live and not rely on lip-synching and auto tuning? Is this a singing competition or an audition for a cruise line commercial?
There are 10 contestants left and only a few have any real chance of winning. I fear that we'll have to wait until the Top 3 to see any meaningful competition - and that could even be stretching it.