Just a day after "American Idol" 2014 judge Harry Connick, Jr. found renewed confidence in the show's finalists thanks to a blockbuster set of March 12 cinema-themed performances by the top 11, one of the talented aspiring singers was sent packing March 13 in what host Ryan Seacrest called "one of the most devastating cuts of the season." By narrowly missing the top 10, the unlucky guy also missed out on a berth in the 2014 "Idol" summer tour.
Long-time show frontman Ryan opened the results show by teasing that the evening's outcome might come as a surprise to some before he welcomed judges Harry Connick Jr. Keith Urban, and Jennifer Lopez to the stage.
The post-performance show review clip followed, featuring the hopefuls as they gushed over their solid March 12 efforts.
To begin the results action, Ryan called C.J. Harris, Caleb Johnson, and Dexter Roberts to center stage. Energetic rocker Caleb was first to be named safe, successfully nabbing the first berth in the summer "Idol" tour. In a surprise move, both C.J. and Dexter also advanced. It marked the first time of the season that all three contestants called forward in a single group to hear their results successfully advanced to the next round.
Following a break, the top 11 gave their pre-recorded impressions of Keith before Jennifer, Ryan and Keith jointly introduced a performance by Harry, who sang a medley of two very different tunes in the slow, sultry "One Fine Thing" and the energetic, piano-pounder "Come by Me."
Contestant impressions of Harry followed, ushering in the live return of Harry's biggest fan, former season 13 hopeful Munfarid Zahidi. An amused Harry ran onto the stage and scooped Munfarid into his arms, and the youngster sang a few bars of "Every Man Should Know."
More results action followed as Ryan called M.K. Nobillette, Ben Briley, Majesty Rose, and Malaya Watson forward to hear their results. Malaya and M.K., who both made previous bottom three appearances, were sent to safety, while Ben and Majesty both took stools in the danger zone.
After another break, the contestants gave their humorous impressions of Jennifer, who then introduced a guest performance by aspiring rapper and singer Mali Music, who hit the "AI" stage with his single "Beautiful."
With mere minutes remaining in the hour-long broadcast, Ryan finally got down to rounding out the bottom three by addressing Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse, Jena Asciutto, and Alex Preston. Although Jessica delivered what was likely the most panned performance of the March 12 show, she was the first saved to sing again, and was followed immediately by Alex. After a few tense moments, Jena was sent to safety, relegating Vegas front runner Sam to the bottom three for the first time.
Sam didn't find himself in danger for long, though, as Ryan sent him to safety, leaving just Ben and Majesty in the bottom two, separated by less than .07% of the nationwide vote. Moments later, Ben found himself singing for his life after Majesty was sent to the couch.
Although his take on Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' "Stars" was impassioned, Keith delivered the bad news, telling him that he and his co-horts didn't see the "artistic growth" required of the eventual season 13 winner.
"American Idol" 2014 resumes March 19 with a top 10 performance show devoted to top 10 Billboard hits.