‘American Idol’ Recap: Harry Connick Jr. Reveals Why He’s So Harsh

See who went home on Thursday night.

Emily Piriz wanted to be bold and perform a Jennifer Lopez song in front of J. Lo herself. But things didn’t go quite as planned, and she was voted off “American Idol” on Thursday night.

Here’s a recap of what went down during this week’s results episode.

Piriz Sent Packing
Orlando’s Emily Piriz became the second contestant voted off “Idol” this season when she came up on the short end of the reported 70 million votes cast this week. Her performance of Jennifer Lopez’ “Let’s Get Loud” on Wednesday’s show resulted in J. Lo doing a fierce hair whip on camera but didn’t generate much voting activity for the 18-year-old, and her version of Grace Potter’s “Stars” didn’t move the judges to use the season’s one save on her.

“I loved it — I’m biased though,” J. Lo told her, while Keith Urban made a bold guarantee that she would make it through to next week. Oops.

Piriz becomes the second contestant from Florida to be shown the door in as many weeks, leaving Sam Woolf as the lone remaining singer from the Sunshine State. She’s also the second to be bit by doing a performance from within the “Idol” family, following Kristen O’Connor’s elimination after doing a Kelly Clarkson song. Maybe try songs by singers on “The Voice” next time, guys.

Jena Irene, MK Nobilette Skate By
Farmington Hills, Mich.’s Jena Irene Ascuitto and San Francisco’s MK Nobilette filled out this week’s bottom three along with Piriz. Ascuitto was sent to safety first, and Nobilette — who was also in last week’s bottom three — was left to sweat it out with Piriz, before being given a last second reprieve.

It was the second week in a row that the bottom three was all girls. The women had the advantage this season, outnumbering the men seven to six, but now the guys have a leg up on the ladies.

Connick Explains Himself
After coming down hard on the contestants Wednesday night, Connick was asked to explain himself on Thursday’s episode. Did he have indigestion, was he in a bad mood or is he just a big old meanie?

The fact that he even had to justify his critiques shows that hugs and handshakes are more valued than honesty in the “Idol” universe, but he had a perfectly sound explanation for his actions.

“I was not hired as a mentor,” he told the contestants. “I was hired as a judge. I have a very short amount of time to be very specific with information that I think will help you grow. You’re already here; I don’t need to belabor the fact that you are incredible in different ways. What can I tell you in response to your performance to help you grow?”

He went on to tell the contestants he thinks they’re the most talented bunch since the first season, but that their performances this week were off. And hopefully Connick’s informed, sharp critiques aren’t dulled going forward, because from a purely technical standpoint he’s the best judge the show has ever seen. (Side note: Remember when Ellen DeGeneres was an “Idol” judge? How weird was that?)

Phillip Phillips “Rages”
Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips returned to the “Idol” stage Thursday, debuting his new single “Raging Fire.” By the end of the night it had cracked the Top 10 on iTunes’ singles chart.

Irish rockers Kodaline also performed on the show, giving a taste of their simmering single “All I Want” as part of the show’s new “curated” series of performances. Randy Jackson “presented” the performance, giving the emerging group a large platform for American audiences.

“Idol” Goes To The Movies
Next week, “Idol’s” theme is “Songs from the Cinema,” which we can only hope results in someone doing “Everything is AWESOME!!!” from “The Lego Movie.”

Also, next week’s results episode moves back an hour to 9 p.m., where it will remain for the rest of the season.

What did you think of the elimination of Emily Piriz? Did she deserve to go home? Let us know in the comments!