Pia Toscano -- who had widely been considered the favorite to win American Idol's tenth-season title -- was eliminated during Thursday night's live results show broadcast on Fox which determined the season's Top 8 finalists.
Toscano, a 22-year-old from Howard Beach, NY, became the fifth finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after she received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show, which featured the Top 9 finalists performing songs recorded by members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"What a shock. What a surprise. How are you?" American Idol host Ryan Seacrest asked Toscano after boos rained down from the studio audience as the show's judges and remaining finalists all looked on in shock.
"I'm good. I'm okay," Toscano replied quietly.
"Jennifer, what just happened here?" Seacrest asked Idol judge Jennifer Lopez.
"I -- I have no idea -- I have no idea what just happened here. I'm shocked. I'm angry. I don't even know what to say," Lopez expressed in tears.
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"I'm with Jennifer And I think with [Idol judge Steven Tyler]. I mean, I'm shocked. I'm gutted. You're one of the best singers in this. Do you know what I'm saying? By the way Ryan, we said it last night. No one is ever safe. If you thought that she was safe, look at where she is now. You didn't vote. So you gotta vote for whoever you love. Dude, I'm never upset on this show and I'm never really mad, but this makes me mad. It's like, 'What is going on?'" fellow judge Randy Jackson said.
"I don't know America, man. A mistake is one thing, but lack of passion in unforgivable. They're wrong. I don't know what happened with this. She's beautiful and when she sings, she's a bird," Tyler added.
Following Abrams' saving, Lopez had boasted that she had no regrets about the judges' surprising decision to use the save -- which they could exercise at any point prior to the season's Top 5 round -- so early in the finals.
"We knew that it was kind of a radical decision because it was so early in the season... [but] that was one decision I have not lost one ounce of sleep over," she told Seacrest of the decision to use the save while 11 of the season's 13 finalists still remained in the competition.
"I just knew it was the right thing. Randy knew it was the right thing. Steven knew it was the right thing."
Toscano remained composed after her ouster was announced and while she sang a final exit song, but broke down in tears once she was surrounded by her fellow finalists and no longer directly facing Idol's cameras.
"My grandfather was actually one of the first people I sang for. He hears me every time I sing so I'm doing it for him. If I get eliminated or not, he's going to be proud of me. I knew I was capable of doing it. I knew I could do it, but I never think that it's actually going to happen. I feel so blessed to be a part of this competition. This is everything and more that I've ever dreamed of," she said during a video montage that followed her ouster.
Prior to Toscano's exit, Jacob Lusk, a 23-year-old from Compton, CA, and Stefano Langone, a 21-year-old from Kent, WA, were revealed by Seacrest to be the other two members of this week's bottom three vote-getters.
Toscano -- who was one of the 10 finalists voted into the season's Top 13 finalists by home viewers -- had received excellent feedback from the judges following her performance of Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High" on Wednesday's performance show.
"Murderer! Murderer! You killed it! Pia, you gotta know, there's a million guys out there in a million bars having a million drinks about you tonight," Tyler told Toscano.
"That was amazing! I mean, vocally, you proved to us -- to everybody -- that you can sing uptempo. That was like, check, okay. It's amazing. You are really, really special up there. Again, I'm going to keep pushing you, because when you see greatness, you want to just -- I'm here to help you -- What I want you to do now is start researching some of the great performers like Tina Turner," Lopez said.
"Michael Jackson, one of the things he used to do, he studied Gene Kelly. He studied Fred Astaire. That became part of his style. Those are the things that you need to do to go to the next level. It's not that you're not amazing. Please, don't ever take me the wrong way. You are spectacular. Spectacular. But just keep studying. Keep researching and get greater. Get that performance into it."
"So I guess what Jimmy was talking about in that clip, 'Prove Randy wrong!' Listen, it's not about proving me wrong. I believe in you. We all believe in you. We think everyone in this competition is so uber-talented. What you showed tonight is you showed what all those singers that you must have admired growing up did -- the Mariah's, the Whitney's, all of those -- they had many uptempo hits as they had ballad hits," Jackson added.
"So what you showed me is what I already knew. You could definitely deliver on an uptempo and you did that tonight! Jennifer is right. All you need to do now is work on the movement. Work on the movement. Follow whatever your little vibe is, but I'm telling you what, 'Yo! Pia's in it to win it, Ryan!'"
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