A night full of surprises began like any regular “American Idol” results episode. Ryan Seacrest dispensed with the introductions of the judges and Top 11 contestants, then informed the audience that the results of over 30 million votes might shock some viewers. Shockingly enough, a results show lived up to the hype.
The first surprise of the night came after the group performance “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” After the song ended, the stage backdrop split open and the legendary Stevie Wonder, seated at a keyboard upon a dais, slid out to mid-stage. He sang “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” then gave a surprise (#2) shout-out to the ecstatic Steven Tyler, segueing into “Happy Birthday.” The surprise birthday performance (Tyler turns 63 on March 26) was capped with the Top 11 presenting Tyler with a portrait and a huge birthday cake.
After a rather amusing mock wrestling match video clip at the “Idol” house, Ryan segued into the results, calling James Durbin and Paul McDonald, the video’s co-stars, to center stage. He told them they were unsafe — just as the stage split once more, revealing wrestling champion Hulk Hogan in person. Durbin’s jaw became unhinged.
The night’s third surprise concluded with Hogan announcing that James and Paul were safe, but Ryan was not, nailing Ryan atop the head, sending the host flying off the stage and into the audience.
Prior to Hogan’s appearance, Scotty McCreery, Pia Toscano, and Lauren Alaina had been declared “safe” and the first three named to the Top 10 — and to the line-up for the “American Idol Live Tour.” Then Jacob Lusk made the Top 10. Stefano and Thia were directed to the silver stools where they would wait to see if they were the contestant voted out of the competition. Naima Adedapo and Haley Rinehart were told they were safe and Casey Abrams, a judges favorite and a frontrunner to win Season 10, was voted into the Bottom 3 (Surprise #4).
Surprise #5: America had voted, and Abrams was eliminated from the competition.
Except… Casey had one more chance — to sing for his life and hopefully win a unanimous judges “Save,” an option they were allowed to use only once for the season. He shelved his Top 11 performance, falling back on the classic Ray Charles song that got him to Hollywood. Casey sang “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”
Three lines into the song, judge Randy Jackson waved off the band: “Stop the music!” He announced (Surprise #6) that the judges didn’t need to hear any more. The judges would used their “Save.”
But the surprises weren’t quite complete. After Casey thanked the judges and looked as if he would faint, Ryan announced that the judges had made the decision prior to the show that, should they use the “Save” option for the 11th contestant, and with the next show seeing two contestants voted off in the regular manner, the “American Idol Live Tour” line-up would field 11 artists (surprise #7) instead of the usual Top 10.
“American Idol” producers are undoubtedly looking for one more surprise from the night: better results show ratings.
“American Idol,” Fox Television
“Top 11 Results,” AmericanIdol.com