Pop Culture

'American Idol' sends home its first finalist

Ray Mickshaw / AP / Today
Curtis Finch, Jr., was eliminated from "American Idol."

“American Idol” made a bit of  history on Thursday. For the first time, Ryan Seacrest revealed the top three vote getters, and then relayed the exact order of finish from fourth to 10th. No more mysteries about who finished where.

We almost had another first that would have been more consequential – the first “Idol” strike.

Curtis Finch Jr. and Devin Velez were announced as the two lowest vote-getters, which was no surprise to anyone who watched Wednesday’s show. But Nicki Minaj was not happy at Curtis being in danger. “If you go home, I’m going home,” she said.

Indeed, Curtis was the lowest vote-getter, and indeed Nicki walked offstage – but only temporarily. She came back during his “sing-for-the-save” performance, perhaps realizing that it’s hard to lobby her fellow judges if she isn’t actually within shouting distance. It didn’t make a difference.

Perhaps her pleas went unheeded, or the other judges were hoping she would carry out her threat and walk out for good. Perhaps they reasoned with her that there was no point in using their save this early when they will likely have plenty of other chances to use it on a guy later in the season, given how poorly they all did in the voting. Or perhaps they reminded her that she joined “Idol” claiming she was going to the tough judge who didn’t just pass people along because they were nice guys

Either way, kudos to Nicki for extending her own streak. After arriving late on Wednesday and ducking out for part of the finale Thursday, she’s now gone two episodes in a row without working a full show.

Women dominate the voting

The first three contestants to learn their fate were the top vote-getters, though Ryan made it plain that they weren’t necessarily announced in order. Candice Glover, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller start things off in a class by themselves, though Kree got the added bonus of having the mayor of her Texas hometown come onstage and give her the key to the city. Imagine what she’ll get if she actually wins!

Fourth place was a bit of a shock, as Lazaro Arbos was the class of the men despite two consecutive weeks of subpar performances. If he ever sings to his potential, he looks like the best bet to keep the streak of male winners alive.

But he was the only bright spot for his gender. Amber Holcomb and Janelle Arthur were fifth and sixth, which means the bottom four vote-getters were all guys. To the “Idol” folks in charge of making sure that the women broke the men’s five-year winning streak, great job so far!

And Florida goes to…

“Idol” also added a few more wrinkles to liven up the results show, and I’m not just talking about Jon Bon Jovi, who opened for Phillip Phillips among the guest stars.

Ryan broke down some of the votes by states and territories. We learned that Devin won Puerto Rico, Janelle won Tennessee, Lazaro sneaked past Angie in Florida, and Karl Rove isn’t sure who won Ohio. OK, that last part was made up. But give Ryan time.

Also coming back were the sixth-place finishers from last week: Charlie Askew (really?) and Amber Cleland. They each got one more chance to sing for the extra-special 11th spot on the “Idol” summer tour, and the selection will likely have a huge impact on ticket sales in their individual hometowns.

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