Sometimes somebody that truly deserves to be sent home on a results show after a poor performance the previous night actually does get the boot. It is rare but it happens. A case in point: Thursday night's "American Idol" Top 11 results show, where not only did all three of the finalists that landed on the Silver Stools of Uncertainty deserve to be there, but the contestant sent home definitely had one of the two worst performances of the night. So who got eliminated from "Idol," missed the Top 10 and, unfortunately for their bank accounts, missed on all that extra money made during the summer on the "American Idol 'LIVE' Tour"?
Right from the start, you knew that the Top 11 results show was going to deliver something unexpected. Why? Because host Ryan Seacrest said so. And as Michael Slezak at TVLine recapped on March 13, one had to immediately wonder if the "Idol" judges were going to use their one-and-only seasonal Save.
So who wouldn't make the bottom three? M. K. Nobilette, who escaped elimination two straight weeks while sitting atop a silver stool? Malaya Watson, who made the bottom three on the Top 13 results show? Or Jena Irene, who was a Top 12 bottom dweller?
First up: Ryan calls out for C. J. Harris, Dexter Roberts, and Caleb Johnson to join him on stage. Now, the only one that might have a shot at landing a silver stool should be Dexter (although his performance the night before wasn't really worthy of potential elimination). C. J. and Caleb gave two of the best performances -- maybe "the" two best -- on Wednesday night. Ryan then tells all three that they are safe and have a place on the tour.
The first performance of the night belongs to Harry Connick Jr. He performed two of his songs, of which he has hundreds. He has promised pounding on the ivories but, if he is to make good on the promise, it will have to be on song number two. And it is. As airy and sexy-smooth as the "One Fine Thing" was, the second, "Come By Me," was pure New Orleans boogie with playful piano chops.
Then it's time for more results. Ryan names M. K. Nobilette, Ben Briley, Majesty Rose, and Malaya Watson. He tells Malaya she's safe. Then, surprisingly enough, M. K. gets to go on tour as well without having to worry about elimination first. And then it was time for the first surprise of the night: Both Ben and Majesty were in the bottom three.
Next up: Mali Music, a new artist that Jennifer Lopez invited to the show as part of the "tastemaker" series, where the judges and mentor Randy Jackson pick heretofore unknown artists to appear on the "Idol" stage. Mali Music has an eclectic style, nothing anyone would ever see from an "Idol" finalist.
Then Ryan lines up the last four finalists to hear their fates: Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse, Jena Irene, and Alex Preston. Jessica is told first that she's on the tour. Alex gets the good news as well. Then Jena Irene, leaving Sam to take the final stool in the row of three alongside Ben and Majesty.
The first told they were going on tour: Sam Woolf. Not a shocker given Sam's boyish good looks but he could have easily been the finalist headed home, especially considering his rendition of the Beatles' "Come Together" for his Top 11 performance was probably the worst of all eleven.
Then Ryan announced the person who would sing for their life: Ben Briley. Majesty Rose, who had received only 0.7 percent more votes than Ben, had made the Top 10.
So Ben performed Grace Potter's "Stars" for his "Save me" song, but you could tell his heart wasn't in it. Or at least his vocals weren't. And so, when Judge Keith Urban, delivered the verdict, citing not enough "artistic growth," it wasn't completely unexpected. Ben Briley would not get the judges' one and only seasonal Save.
And so the Top 10 were revealed...
A side note: The "auditions" continued for a second night, but instead of the finalists mocking and impersonating their colleagues, they got to go after the judges. They blasted Jennifer Lopez for her hair whipping, Keith Urban for his enthusiasm (Ben Briley did a great rendition of Urban critiquing via belting out a song) and his guitar playing, and Harry Connick Jr. for his music knowledge (but Caleb Johnson's singing big band and scat was actually very, very good).
"American Idol" returns next week as the Top 10 gear up for the final run for the title. "Idol" airs on Fox Television on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. and Thursday nights at 9 p.m. (times are EST).