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'American Idol' judges use "The Judges' Save' to spare Matt Giraud

By John Bracchitta, 04/16/2009 

American Idol finalist Matt Giraud has been "saved."

Although he received the fewest home viewer votes following Tuesday night's performance show, Giraud was allowed to remain in American Idol's eighth-season competition when the show's judges unanimously decided to use their one-time "The Judges' Save" ability to prevent his ouster during last night's live results show broadcast on Fox.

"Idol history has been made!" Idol host Ryan Seacrest exclaimed after judge Simon Cowell revealed the judges had decided to use the new eighth-season twist to prevent the elimination of Giraud, a 23-year-old who currently resides in Kalamazoo, MI.

Over 36 million home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode broadcast that saw the Top 7 finalists perform songs from the cinema, according to Seacrest.

Prior to Giraud's save by the judges Seacrest had revealed that Anoop Desai, a 22-year-old from Chapel Hill, NC, and Lil Rounds, a 24-year-old from Memphis, TN, were the other members of the week's bottom three vote-getters for the second consecutive week.

Giraud had sung "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams during Tuesday night's live broadcast.

In an attempt to prevent a repeat of last week's eight-minute overrun, only two of Idol's four judges were allowed to comment on each finalist's performance during Tuesday night's live broadcast.  Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi were the two judges to offer feedback to Giraud, and both had been largely critical of his performance.

"That performance was interesting tonight for me. I mean it started out kinda cool, but when you hit the bridge you hit a rough patch. Kara and I were looking at each other like 'Eh, a little melody thing and a pitchy thing going off over here,'" Jackson told Giraud after his performance.

"What you gotta remember is that you can really sing, but when you take a song like this that's got a beautiful, simple melody you can't do all of that stuff with it because you're gonna fall down somewhere," Jackson continued.  "You fell down more places tonight than you won in that song for me. So it wasn't one of your best performances for me tonight."

DioGuardi agreed, telling Giraud that he had become inconsistent as the eighth-season competition has continued.

"Some weeks you really nail the song choice and it's two steps forward, and then it's a rock song, and I really appreciate that you tried to put a lot of soul and twist it to make it feel more like an R&B song," she told him. "But in doing so you took away some of the core melodies that made the song that great. You show your vocal chops, we see that every week, but when you're gonna take a song and flip it like that it's gotta be a masterpiece."
However, the judges were more accepting of the encore performance that Giraud performed following Seacrest's Wednesday night announcement that he had finished as the week's low vote-getter.

All four Idol judges huddled around Cowell to deliberate as Giraud began his Wednesday night re-performance, however they seemed to come to a consensus quickly, resulting in DioGuardi and Paula Abdul spending much of the performance dancing cheerfully behind the judges' table.

After Giraud was done singing, the studio audience began chanting "save" as the judges huddled for one final time.

"Matt, how many times have you been in the bottom three?" Cowell asked Giraud when Seacrest asked for the judges' decision.

"Can I be honest with you? I didn't think you were as good as you were last night, I don't see that you have really any chance of winning the competition," Cowell said as the audience booed and the other judges expressed their disagreement with his opinion.

"But Matt, we've made a decision. Matt, it's good news," Cowell said as the other judges and studio audience erupted in cheers.

Following the announcement -- which brought Giraud to tears and the other six finalists onto the stage in celebration -- Cowell reminded the finalists that they should not be so quick to celebrate just yet.

"Guys... girls... I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate him," Cowell warned. "Number one, two people are going home next week now.  Second piece of bad news -- next week is [also] disco week."

"Thanks for the buzzkill Cowell," Seacrest joked.

In addition to the use of "The Judges' Save" on Giraud, the results show also featured a group performance from the Top 7 of "Maniac" from the movie Flashdance as well as performances of "If This Isn't Love" by third-season Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson and "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus.

Due to Giraud's saving, Idol's Top 7 eighth-season finalists -- Giraud, Desai, Rounds, Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, and Adam Lambert -- will all return the stage and perform live during next week's performance episode on Tuesday, April 21 at 8PM ET/PT.

However, because "The Judges' Save" was used, on Wednesday beginning at 9PM ET/PT, two finalists will be eliminated from the competition based on home viewer votes, revealing the season's Top 5 finalists.

(Photo credit Michael Becker/FOX)

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