Ryan Seacrest opened the hour-long broadcast by welcoming the top 12 as well as "Idol" judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban. He then introduced a review of the March 5 "home" themed performance show, which featured the contestants' thoughts on the judges' brutally honest comments.
Although resident mentor Randy Jackson admitted the hopefuls' performances weren't top notch, he criticized Harry for being too harsh. Harry defended himself, noting that he'd be goofing off if he were a mentor, but as a judge, he needs to give helpful feedback as expediently as possible. Still, despite his difficult criticisms, he still called the top 12 "the best group of talent since the first season" and encouraged them to figure out what makes them "great and unique." He even used a surprise a message from Saints quarterback Drew Brees to drive his point him, noting that the Saints' coach won't praise Brees for being handsome after he throws an incomplete pass.
With the judging brouhaha in the rear view, the results action commenced as Ryan called Emily Piriz, Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse, and Ben Briley forward to hear their respective fates. With virtually zero ado, Emily was the first act of the night relegated to the bottom three, while the other three were proclaimed safe to sing again.
The show continued with Keith reminiscing about his make-believe childhood band, Rock Fever, and the time he painted the band's name on his family's garage, and then "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips returned to the show's stage to debut his new single "Raging Fire."
After a break, Harry waxed poetic on the virtues of growing up in music-rich New Orleans before Ryan called Dexter Roberts, Jena Irene Asciutto, Alex Preston, and Majesty York forward for more results action. Dexter, Majesty, and Alex were declared safe, while Jena joined Emily on the stools as the second member of the week's bottom three.
The show continued with a guest performance by Randy's pick of the week, the Irish band Kodaline, singing "All I Want." Then the hometown memories continued as Jennifer talked about growing up in New York and her love of "Saturday in the Park."
Finally, the last four members of the top 12, Malaya Watson, MK Nobilette, C.J. Harris, and Caleb Johnson, learned their fates as Ryan called them to center stage. MK once again found herself in the bottom three, while Caleb, C.J. and Malaya advanced to the top 11.
Ultimately, Jena was sent to safety, and MK looked stunned as Emily learned that she'd received the fewest votes and would need to sing for her life. The Fla. native delivered a shaky rendition of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' "Stars."
After mulling the decision, Harry delivered the bad news that they'd decided not to use the save. Emily called the experience "incredible" and "amazing" and said she "honestly couldn't ask for anything more."
"American Idol" 2014 resumes March 12 on FOX with the top 11 performance show.