American Idol revealed a twist to the eleventh season's initial finals round during Wednesday night's live performance show, which featured the competition's newly-minted thirteen finalists taking the stage and singing Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston songs.

Instead of following the usual practice of automatically eliminating the finalist who received the fewest home-viewer votes following Wednesday's performance show, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced Thursday night's live results show will feature Idol judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson determining whether the lowest male or female vote-getter will be sent home.

"There is breaking news -- for the first time during the finals, it's the guys versus the girls tonight. So the gentlemen will take on the songs of Stevie Wonder, and our ladies are paying tribute to the late, great Whitney Houston," Seacrest said.

"So because of this, for one night only, tomorrow, we'll reveal the bottom guy and the bottom girl.  Then, the judges will make the final decision on which one stays.  So it will be very interesting as it all unfolds!"

American Idol's thirteen eleventh-season finalists are Deandre Brackensick, a 17-year-old from San Jose, CA; Hollie Cavanagh, an 18-year-old from McKinney, TX; Colton Dixon, a 20-year-old from Murfreesboro, TN; Heejun Han, a 22-year-old from Flushing, NY; Jermaine Jones, a 25-year-old from Pine Hill, NJ; Skylar Laine, an 18-year-old from Brandon, MS; Joshua Ledet, a 19-year-old from Westlake, LA; Shannon Magrane, a 16-year-old from Tampa, FL; Phillip Phillips, a 21-year-old from Leesburg, GA; Jeremy Rosado, a 19-year-old from Valrico, FL; Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old from San Diego, CA; Elise Testone, a 28-year-old from Charleston, SC; and Erika Van Pelt, a 26-year-old from South Kingstown, RI.

After all the finalists performed, Seacrest also -- in another departure from prior American Idol seasons -- asked the judges to reveal who they believed had been the night's strongest and weakest performers.

"So from each of you, which two people do you think are standouts, and which two do you think may be in trouble tonight?" the American Idol host asked.

"God... in trouble, Ryan, really, I have no real idea.  but I think standouts, I mean for me Joshua and Jessica -- yo, crazy good! Crazy good!  Flawless," Jackson replied.

Seacrest then moved on to Lopez, but asked her to start by telling him which finalists may be in trouble.

"That's not fair! Um... if I had to go with performances, I'd have to say Shannon.  I'm sorry sweetie, it wasn't your best performance," Lopez said. 

"I know, I love her too!" she added as the studio audience began to boo. 

However, Lopez had more difficulty answering the rest of Seacrest's questions.

"And I don't know, I don't know who else.  There were so many strong performances tonight.  There were so many strong performances tonight, I'm like 'Jessica, and Phillip, and Hollie, and Skylar, and Deandre, and Colton, and Erica, and Joshua' -- it's like crazy how many people had  a great night tonight, like an outstanding night."
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"Boys were stronger though," Jackson interjected.

"I think the girls were stronger!  No, the girls!" Lopez replied. "No, the girls were stronger tonight, I think.  Just a little bit, because the songs because were a little bit -- you know, had more range because it was Whitney Houston."

Seacrest then asked Tyler to share who he was worried may be in danger of elimination on Thursday night's results show.

"Elise and Shannon,  Cuz I love their voices, [but] tonight there was just a little dip in it.  you know, it will come back," he replied.

But Tyler only gave Seacrest one favorite.

"My two favorite standouts would have to be Jessica Sanchez and Jessica Sanchez," he said.
About The Author: Steven Rogers
Steven Rogers is a senior entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and been covering the reality TV genre for two decades.