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Pia Toscano Eliminated from American Idol

updated 04/08/2011 AT 09:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2011 AT 09:50 PM EDT



Ryan Seacrest suggested at the outset that Thursday's American Idol elimination show would be "a very
 shocking results night."

Well, a viewer might have thought: Of course he's
 not going to stand there and tell an audience of millions to sit back and
 relax.



But he was right.



The loser was Pia Toscano, the beautiful power-balladeer
 who would have seemed destined for at least the top four. And she was joined 
in the bottom two with another strong performer, Jacob Lusk.

(Stefano 
Langone landed with them in the bottom three – no surprise at all, probably 
not even to him.)




Miffed Judges

Pia took it all in with a lot of calm dignity, although you wouldn't have 
blamed her for collapsing the way Casey Abrams did not long ago. The judges,
 though, were clearly miserable with the outcome – indignant, actually.



"I have no idea what just happened here," said Jennifer Lopez, who had started to
 cry. 



"You're one of the best singers," said Randy Jackson. "This makes me mad."

"A mistake is one thing," said Steven Tyler in one of his strange bursts of 
eloquence, "but a lack of passion is unforgiveable."

He meant the voting
 audience, not Pia.

 Ryan, sharing the sentiment that something had gone wrong here and probably 
also realizing that this made for smashing television, asked her to sing an
 encore.

She made it through "I'll Stand By You," then broke into loud sobs as
 Jacob embraced her.
 


So, one is left to ask, what was that about? For the first time this week,
 she'd made a change from her usual repertoire when she sang Tina Turner's
 "River Deep, Mountain High."

Jilted for Paul McDonald

I often found Pia a little stately, like a
 cruise liner forging ahead through choppy seas, but this time she had much
 more drive – the judges were pleased, and she seemed pleased too.

Yet viewers
 jilted her while keeping on the nice but not very dynamic Paul McDonald.

 Randy and Ryan both said the result might have been inadvertent, due to 
at-home viewers being complacent about Pia's rank and neglecting to vote for 
her.

I would also ask whether the judges share in the blame. By being so 
lavish in their praise for all the contestants, they aren't nudging voters 
or shaping the contestants into camps of hot versus not.

 Because, after all, Jacob didn't deserve to be down there in the bottom two,
 either. (Jennifer looked especially stern when that was announced.)



Again,
 what did the poor guy do wrong? Technically, nothing. "Man in the Mirror" was 
one of his strongest, least mannered performances. Should he have been more
 mannered?



Before singing, he'd made an odd, sour comment suggesting that people who
 didn't vote for him should be the ones examining their reflections. Maybe
 that struck a note of hubris or defiance with voters.



Also during the hour: The legendary Iggy Pop sang "Real Wild Child." His leaps and hops seemed forced, and perhaps he should wear a shirt or a
 tank top, but an aging punk rocker probably doesn¹t worry too much about his
 dignity. He was terrific.


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