Allen and Adam Lambert were revealed to be American Idol's Top 2 eighth-season finalists during last night's live results show, as Danny Gokey became the eleventh finalist eliminated from the competition.
Gokey, a 28-year-old from Milwaukee, WI, was ousted from Idol's eighth season based on the more than 88 million home viewer votes cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode that featured the Top 3 finalists each singing two songs -- a judge's choice and a contestant's choice.
"This whole experience feels like a dream come true. American Idol has given me a whole new hope for my life," said Gokey during a video montage of his Idol journey, reflecting on how far he's come since his wife passed away last July -- four weeks before he auditioned for the show.
"It' almost like a fairy tale story. You read about tragedies, and then you read about the triumph that comes through it -- and I'm that person."
Gokey's first performance on Tuesday night was "Dance Little Sister" by Terence Trent D'Arby, a song chosen for him by Paula Abdul.
"I think it goes something like, 'Let the games begin!' Way to jump it off tonight Danny!" commented Randy Jackson after the performance. "Lot of energy, you're performing crazy, sounding good in that kind of horse kind of tone like that. Dude, that was dope for me dude."
Judge Kara DioGuardi then complimented Abdul's song selection because she felt it kept Gokey "in his money spot in his tone."
"But I got to say the dancing was a little too gyrating for me," she added. "You're a great singer, but am I going to remember that performance tomorrow? I just don't know."
Touting her experience as a choreographer, Abdul said she felt Gokey did "really good" with his dancing.
"And what's great, you let that magical part of your voice carry out throughout the rest of the song and I thought you did a fantastic job," she said. "Way to go Danny."
Cowell reminded DioGuardi that Idol is a "signing show" and not Dancing with the Stars, "that funny little dancing show [that films next door]."
"Look, I do agree with Kara. I think the dancing was a bit desperate," he added. "Vocally, very, very good. My biggest problem was the toy saxophone solo in the middle. It just sounded like one of those toys you get as a child. So I wouldn't have put the saxophone solo in. Actually, I think Paula was on the right track with Terence Trent D'Arby, I just think it was the wrong song."
Gokey's second performance was "You Are So Beautiful" by Billy Preston, a song he chose.
"I love that the arrangement was different and you were trying to make it your own," said Jackson. "You showed that you're here because you can really, really, really sing! Mad vocals dude! Mad vocals!"
"Danny, everything you didn't do in the first performance for me, you just did," commented DioGuardi. "That was stunning. Stunning... There's nothing else to say. Amazing. "
Abdul said that Gokey's performance left everyone "breathless."
"I love songs like this because the structure's there but it allows you to do magic to it and infuse your own thing into it," she added. "I think that by changing the chord structure and using the gospel part and the R&B part of your voice, you nailed it. It was a beautiful, beautiful performance."
Cowell disagreed with Abdul, saying that he loved the song choice but thought the arrangement didn't need to be changed.
"It just would have worked with you and a piano," said Cowell. "Having said that... I would call that a vocal master class what you just did."
Cowell had been a supporter of Gokey and Lambert throughout the eighth season, first stating they were the competition's two frontrunners when there were still 10 finalists remaining. Then earlier this week, Cowell commented that Allen was "not a good enough singer to compete with Adam" and added "the only one who can compete with Adam on vocals is Danny."
However home viewers disagreed, and made the race between Lambert and Allen a close one.
"There were just over one million votes separating the Top 2," said Idol host Ryan Seacrest at the onset of last night's broadcast.
Cowell seemed shocked at the results after Gokey's exit performance at the conclusion of the broadcast.
"None of us would have predicted this guys," said Cowell. "No disrespect, because you were brilliant last night... and just now by the way Danny. But Kris, your second song [last night] in particular made you a contender. You're in with a real shot. Adam, you know we've always liked you. This could be what we call a big ding-dong coming up for next week."
"I didn't know that's what we call it," replied Seacrest.
"It means good," clarified Cowell.
Last night's broadcast also featured video montages of each finalist's recent hometown visit. In addition, Idol sixth-season champ Jordin Sparks performed "Battlefield," a new single from her yet-to-be-titled sophomore album that is currently slated to drop this summer. Singer Katy Perry also performed -- initially sporting a white cape that had "Adam Lambert" written across the back in red letters.
Next week, Lambert, a 26-year-old from San Diego, CA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, and Allen, a 23-year-old from Jacksonville, AR who currently resides in Conway, AR, will take the stage and perform live during a one-hour performance episode on Tuesday at 8PM ET/PT.
On Wednesday beginning at 8PM ET/PT, Idol's eighth-season winner will be crowned during a live 127-minute -- or, given the show's previous overrun history, probably even longer -- results show.