"American Idol" got right down to business with its first live results episode on Thursday (February 20).
Six minutes into the episode and Ryan Seacrest was already reading results. This was not the lollygagging "Idol" of old, where results episodes do everything but give results until cramming them into the final 30 seconds of the show. There was a lot to get to, whittling the Top 20 down to a Top 13, and "Idol" got right to it.
In the new spirit of the show, we'll do the same.
The Top 10
Malaya Watson was the first contestant named to the Top 10, and she celebrated like she'd just won the Super Bowl. She was followed in short order by Ben Briley, who two nights earlier made the Top 15 boys by a hair; Emily Piriz; Alex Preston; Jessica Meuse; Dexter Roberts; Caleb Johnson; Majesty Rose; MK Nobilette and Sam Woolf.
The Top 10 was solidified 18 minutes into the show, which has to be some sort of "Idol" record.
The Wild Cards
Five of the 10 remaining singers were asked to sing for the judges for the three remaining spots. First up was C.J. Harris, but "Hatchet Harry" had no problems cutting down both him and the "Idol" band — that means you, Rickey Minor! — calling the performance "average." Jena Irene followed, winning the approval of the judges with an original song. Spencer Lloyd also sang an original from Hollywood Week, but the goofy song about self-affirmation — which the judges scoffed at the first time he sang it — again missed the mark. Bria Anai then turned in a screamy version of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," which Connick dismissed as "all over the place." Last was Kristen O'Connor, who sang a competent version of Katy Perry's "Unconditionally."
Irene, the one contestant who truly nailed her song, was the first to be sent through. Then O'Connor got the nod, and the final spot went to Harris, whose hat on this night recalled Pharrell's infamous Grammy hat. Lloyd was shown the door, as was Bria "check out my cool lipstick" Anai.
At least Lloyd and Anai were given a chance to sing for their spots; five others weren't so lucky. Emmanuel Zidor, Malcolm Allen, Briana Oakley, George Lovett and Marrialle Sellars were all booted without ceremony, and Zidor barely attempted to hide his disapproval from the cameras.
Sellars' dismissal, which came after she literally stumbled during her Tuesday night performance, comes after she was at one point considered this year's front runner. Her audition opened the season, and during it she was asked to stop what she was doing, look into the camera and announce that she was the next "American Idol." Her exit, along with Casey Thrasher's the night before, means the two singers producers had built up the most in the early episodes are now gone from the competition.
Before Thursday's live episode, the Twitter feed @IdolSpoilers posted six of the Top 13 finalists, and those results turned out to be correct.
Loose lips? Lucky guesses? Who knows, but it's rare that these kinds of things leak in "Idol" land before the show goes to air.
When Caleb Johnson made the Top 10, the Meat Loaf lookalike picked Seacrest up and gave him a gigantic bear hug, and half-looked like he was about to break the host in half. Seacrest, ever the pro, took it all in stride, and then snapped right back into Ryan Seacrest mode as soon as he was put back down on the stage.
Connick made sure to compliment Seacrest on his, well, utter Seacrestness in the situation. "You bounced back so quickly from that. It took you a half a second to be [lowers his voice] Ryan Seacrest again," Connick marveled. "That was amazing, it's the greatest thing I've ever seen on TV. You're a genius!"
Next Wednesday, the Top 13 perform songs under the theme "This Is Me," and Thursday's results show will feature performances by Jake Bugg and Season 12 "Idol" winner Candice Glover.