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Anchor Performances

A common complaint among American Idol fans is that the producers often save the most desirable performance slot of the evening – the final one – for their favored contestants. Some detractors have gone so far as to dub it "The Pimp Spot," perhaps in reaction to the shenanigans of Season Two when Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard sang last a whopping nine times combined, including each of the final seven episodes. If Kimberley Locke had dragged Simon Fuller onto the stage and slapped him silly on national TV, would any jury have convicted her?

Thankfully, AI has been a bit more reasonable in recent years about sharing the spotlight. For instance, ten different contestants had a turn in the anchor spot in Season Six, including much-maligned Sanjaya Malakar who came through admirably with his highest-rated performance. And to be fair to the producers, they have a legitimate business interest in saving the best for last. A great anchor performance can help whitewash 55 minutes of lackluster singing, sends the audience off on a good note, and helps kick-starts the voting. "Leave 'em laughing when you go" was a basic tenet of show business long before Judy Collins sang those words.

Whatever the producers' motiviations, the Pimp Spot usually lives up to the hype: An average approval rating of 65.0, 64 five-star performances (including 14 rating out at 90 or higher), and most significantly, an elimination rate close to zero. Through the first seven seasons, just four finalists — 4! — have been knocked out of the competition from the anchor slot: Aiken in the AI2 Finale, Melinda Doolittle in AI6's Final Three, David Archuleta in the AI7 finale, and...can you guess the fourth? Page through the list below for the unlikely answer (or, if you don't feel like searching, just hover your pointer here.)

[back to top] Anchor Performances

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# Episode / Theme Slot Performance Approval Rating σ Result
1
Open
10/10
Circle Of Life0003Circle Of Life
52
 
32 3Judges' Choice
2
Shania Twain
6/6
Any Man Of Mine0003Any Man Of Mine
42
 
31 7Eliminated
3
Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
9/9
Folsom Prison Blues0003Folsom Prison Blues
58
 
29 2Safe
4
Billboard Hot 100
12/12
66
 
28 2Safe
5
Lennon-McCartney
9/9
Hey Jude0003Hey Jude
56
 
28 2Safe
6
Judges' Choice / Idols' Choice
6/6
Hallelujah0003Hallelujah
71
 
28 2Safe
7
Personal Idol
13/13
Umbrella0003Umbrella
43
 
28 2Safe
8
Now and Then
14/14
A Change Is Gonna Come0003A Change Is Gonna Come
58
 
28 2Safe
9
I'm With The Band
9/9
Bring Me To Life0003Bring Me To Life
76
 
28 2Safe
10
Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
8/8
Love Me Tender0003Love Me Tender
54
 
27 2Safe
11
Open
8/8
Something To Talk About0003Something To Talk About
75
 
26 2Safe
12
Open
8/8
Butterflies0003Butterflies
35
 
26 2Safe
13
Finale
6/6
Imagine0003ImagineReprise performance
72
 
26 7Eliminated
14
Idols' / Jimmy's / Judges' Choice
9/9
You Oughta Know0003You Oughta Know
36
 
26 7Eliminated
15
Songs from the Cinema
11/11
I Am Changing0003I Am Changing
64
 
26 2Safe
16
Big Band
10/10
What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?0003What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
62
 
25 2Safe
17
Country
9/9
Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)0003Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)
40
 
25 2Safe
18
Queen
8/8
Show Must Go On0003The Show Must Go On
61
 
25 2Safe
19
Latin
8/8
Besame Mucho0003Besame Mucho
48
 
25 2Safe
20
Bee Gees
8/8
Woman In Love0003Woman In Love
40
 
25 2Safe
21
Rat Pack Standards
5/5
Feeling Good0003Feeling Good
70
 
25 4Bottom Group
Billboard charts
10/10
Lips Of An Angel0003Lips Of An Angel
70
 
25 2Safe
23
Billboard charts
8/8
This Womans Work0003This Woman's Work
80
 
25 2Safe
24
Frank Sinatra
5/5
That's Life0003That's Life
62
 
25 2Safe
25
Inspirational Songs / Lieber & Stoller
8/8
Love Potion Number Nine0003Love Potion No. 9
63
 
25 7Eliminated
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