It’s the Finals, and it’s a whole new ballgame for the Idol contestants: new stage, new format and even higher expectations from the judges. Simon Cowell made sure they knew it tonight, with only four performances escaping his acid tongue. You didn’t even need to be standing in front of the judges to take a hit.

Ramiele—who’s rarely suffered Simon’s wrath—got slammed with the harsh assessment, "I was bored to tears throughout the entire song, from the awful standing on the stairs to the walking in the middle to the dreary song choice which did absolutely nothing for you."

Even the apparently untouchable David Archuleta took a beating over his "We Can Work It Out" rendition. "That was a mess," spat Simon. "You stumbled over the lyrics at the beginning. You shouldn’t have done the Stevie Wonder version. It was your weakest performance so far."

Chikezie, who narrowly escaped elimination last week, got what must have been the most enthusiastic response of the season for his bluegrass tinged "She’s A Woman." Even when Simon told him, "You look like you were completely drunk during that performance," he meant it in a good way.

While it seemed like Simon was about to hand Chikezie a record contract on the spot for his countrified cover, when Kristy Lee Cook tried the same trick, he said it was "probably a foolish thing to do."

"Kristy, I thought it was horrendous," he said. "You sounded like Dolly Parton on helium. It was like being at some ghastly country fair. Just some banjos and you."

It sounds like Spring Break is in the air at CBS Television City because Simon said Jason Castro‘s effort was "a bit student-in-a-bedroom-at-midnight,"while he thought Amanda sounded as drunk as Chikezie.

David Hernandez nearly suffered the worst jibe of the night when Simon barked, "No. No. No. I thought it was corny verging on desperate. It was all a little bit rabbit in the headlights. It just wasn’t very cool.” But it was Carly Smithson whose ego may have suffered the worst bruising.

Even though Simon liked her song, he dished out the ultimate insult without even meaning to. When he was trying to compare Michael John’s performance to Carly’s, the judge had to lean over to Paula and ask, "What’s the Irish girl’s name?" Someone get an ice-pack for that girl’s self-esteem.

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