Over the course of the night, Seacrest trickled out the results piecemeal — first highlighting contestants Devin Velez, Janelle Arthur and Candice Glover, each of whom got astonishingly high percentages of the votes from their home states (and Puerto Rico, in the case of Velez). Seacrest also revealed the Top 3 — in between shout-outs from all the hopefuls' hometowns, an awkward group number from the Top 10, and live performances from Bon Jovi and last season's Idol winner, Phillip Phillips.
The evening also included a sing-off between two of the Top 20 contestants who didn't make it to the finals but are now vying for the 11th spot on the American Idol tour. And they were ... Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland! (Remember them!? How could you forget Charlie's meltown?) Charlie — looking much more composed than in his last disastrous performance — sang an original piano ballad while Aubrey chose to cover Irene Cara's "Out Here on My Own." The winner will be revealed on next Wednesday's episode.
But back to the regular Top 10. Who ended up being in the Top 3? Completely unsurprisingly, the trio was Candice, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller (in no particular order). Seems like this really is the Year of the Ladies!
Though Seacrest didn't reveal the order of the Top 3, he did reveal the order of fourth through eighth place, which were:
4. Lazaro Arbos
6. Janelle Arthur
8. Paul Jolley
That left Velez and Curtis Finch Jr. in the bottom two, one of whom would sing for the judges' save — which can only be used once this season and would have to be unanimous. "I'm a little shocked," judge Keith Urban said.
Nicki Minaj was more blunt. "I definitely think Curtis should not be in the bottom two," she said. "Come on, America. Are you kidding me? ... Curtis, if you go home, I'm going home."
True to her word, when Seacrest revealed that Curtis was the one who was in last place and would be singing for the save, Minaj got up and walked away from the judges' table (but then returned, perhaps prompted by a contractual obligation? Who knows.) For his "Save Me" song, Curtis revisited R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." He left it all on the stage, giving an absolutely pained performance. Was it enough for the judges?
No. With that, Curtis was the first contestant eliminated from the Top 10.
"I don't feel there was a real discussion about it," Minaj said afterwards, as Randy Jackson threw up his hands.
So there you have it! What did you think? Were you surprised by the order of the Top 10, and do you think the judges made the right call in letting Curtis leave? For that matter, do you think Nicki will be back next week? Sound off below!
American Idol returns Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.