All sense of logic was officially thrown out the window on “American Idol” on Thursday night’s (April 7) elimination show. With two of the season’s leading contenders in the bottom three — after last week’s shocking near-miss for Paul McDonald — there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the voting patterns on the 10th season of the show.
When the dust settled, those confounding voters served up one of the biggest early elimination bombshells in recent “Idol” history, sending home the woman many had pegged as a potential winner, or at least top finisher, Pia Toscano. The comely singer who had charmed the judges with her professional, powerful performances, camera-ready looks and diva-in-the-making potential hit the bottom three for the first, and last, time on Thursday night in a vote that confounded and angered the judging panel.
As host Ryan Seacrest broke the bad news, judge Randy Jackson — perhaps sensing that he pulled his save too early two weeks ago when bearded bass player Casey Abrams was spared — grabbed his head and mouthed “no, no” and, as the camera cut away, maybe something a bit stronger, while Toscano smiled politely and took the news like a pro.
“I’m good,” Toscano smiled when Seacrest asked how she was doing. Judge Jennifer Lopez broke into tears, saying, “I have no idea. I have no idea what just happened here. I’m shocked, I’m angry. I don’t even know what to say.”
“They’re wrong, I don’t know what happened with this,” a dumbfounded Steven Tyler added, as Jackson admitted that he never gets mad on the show and was officially steamed at Toscano’s elimination.
It was not shaping up like this earlier in the hour. Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone and Lauren Alaina were first up in the elimination circle, with Abrams skating after his CCR bass-plucking performance, Alaina safe after biting off a big chunk with “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” leaving Langone to shuffle to the bottom three again after a lackluster “When a Man Loves a Woman.” From early indications, it seemed like it was Langone who was going to be leaving.
The second group featured Paul McDonald, Toscano and Scotty McCreery . McDonald rocked Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” while Pia went uptempo with Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” and McCreery did Elvis’ “It’s Alright Mama.” McCreery and McDonald will live to sing another day, while nobody saw it coming when Toscano made her first visit to the bottom three.
The next trio up was James Durbin, Haley Reinhart and Jacob Lusk. While rocker Durbin took a chance with the gentle ballad “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Reinhart hit “Piece of My Heart” with gusto, Lusk seemed to stumble with “Man in the Mirror.” Durbin was safe again, as was Reinhart, while Lusk also made his maiden voyage to the bottom. He, too, seemed like the likely one to be sent packing at show’s end.
But first to be waved back to safety was Lusk, who survived despite a shaky performance and a strange warning to America that if he was eliminated it would be because the country couldn’t look itself in the mirror (whatever that means).
Though eliminated contestants haven’t been given a chance to sing their way off this year, Seacrest made an exception and let Toscano reprise her heartbreaking cover of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You,” as the remaining eight wiped their eyes and the audience gave Pia a standing ovation while she broke down in tears at song’s end. Perhaps sensing that one of the leading lights of the show had been dimmed and the audience might wane in the coming weeks, Seacrest ended the show with the plea: “We need you. Stay with us this season.”
The show also featured season-four finalist and Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis stopping by to visit the kids and sing a brooding rock version of the classic ballad “Unchained Melody.” But, aside from Pia’s exit, the night’s biggest WTF moment was when Rock Hall of Famer and shirt-allergic punk godfather Iggy Pop shimmed all over the stage to “Real Wild Child.”
What did you think of tonight’s elimination? Did Pia deserve to go home? Let us know in the comments.
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