‘American Idol’: Jessica Sanchez Sinks To The Bottom; Jennifer Hudson, Ne-Yo And James Durbin Perform

Carl Williott | April 13, 2012 5:00 am

After 11 seasons of American Idol, we all know the results shows are just an hour-long Idol commercial. Sure, you get some quality performances thrown in (and last night’s by James Durbin and Jennifer Hudson were very entertaining), but usually it’s just a “fast forward until they announce the bottom three” affair. That was not the case Thursday, as the befuddling results almost turned the night into American Idol: Beyond Thunderdome.

As we always do, we were going to briskly rehash Jimmy Iovine’s critiques and the star performances and any quirky moments (like Phillip Phillips petting Colton Dixon‘s head, which happened and was amazing). And while we’ll get to the performances in a bit, there’s really only one thing to talk about. Let’s start at the beginning and try to relive this nightmare together so we can be better prepared if it ever happens again.

Ryan Seacrest gradually split the contestants up into two groups, in what we thought was just an overwrought way to drag out the drama, getting us to guess which group was the bottom three. But those sneaky Idol producers gave us a Sixth Sense-level twist, unveiling that the group consisting of Jessica Sanchez (our favorite from Wednesday night), Joshua Ledet (the judges’ favorite) and Elise Testone was the bottom. That’s when everyone in attendance lost their — how you say — s***.

Jimmy snidely remarked that he needs a new TV because what he heard Wednesday must’ve been different from what the voters heard. Randy Jackson summed it up thusly: “In 11 seasons of doing the show, I’ve never seen this happen. I’ve never said this, but America got it wrong tonight.”

Tell ’em what time it is, Randy! So we gathered our thoughts, took a deep breath. Yes, America screwed up, but obviously Jessica and Joshua would be safe and we’d find Elise on the bottom and that was an acceptable, if not ideal, outcome.

And then…Seacrest announced that Jessica finished with the fewest votes. That’s when everyone in Thunderdome: Idol, as well as a certain recapper hunched over his computer, made a guttural bellow that could probably only be recreated if the Idol audience were to witness Simon Cowell slaughtering a herd of baby unicorns onstage.

America, seriously dog. Seriously?! Was this some grand dramatic ruse fixed by Nigel and the Idol masterminds? Before we could even process everything, poor Jessica was already warbling her way through the “sing for your life” phase of the show. But in the middle of her first verse, in an unprecedented move, the mutinous judges stormed on stage, grabbed the microphone from Jessica and unleashed their one save.

“We are saving Jessica without ANY DOUBT,” bellowed Randy, leader of the uprising as Jennifer Lopez prepared to unleash Jenny From The Block. Randy continued to excoriate the voters for their slight, and rightly so. (We just hope those same people don’t vote against Jessica out of spite next week.)

So, other than the far-and-away most talented singer of the season landing on the bottom, you guys wanna talk about anything else? How about the return of season 10 rocker James Durbin? He performed his single “Higher Than Heaven,” which was pretty rocking for Idol. The verses are about as heavy as you can get with corporate rock, and the song closed out with an old school hair metal solo and Durbin’s banshee howl. If that’s the song to introduce the “kids” to rock this season, we could certainly do worse. Approve!

James Durbin, “Higher Than Heaven” (Live on American Idol)

Then we saw the sublime Jennifer Hudson sing “Think Like A Man“, featuring Ne-Yo. As expected, she performed it like a bona fide diva. We like this semi-Sasha Fierce side of her. Approve!

Next week: America goes to its room to think about what it has done, and Jessica Sanchez hopefully makes good on her second lease on Idol life.

Were you as stunned by Jessica’s bottom finish as we were? Sound off in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.