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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 65.1, 66 five-star performances (including 15 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
Motown
10/10
Aint No Mountain High Enough0003Ain't No Mountain High Enough
48
 
16 2Safe
2
1970s
7/7
If I Were Your Woman0003If I Were Your Woman
76
 
12 2Safe
3
Big Band
6/6
Stuff Like That There0003Stuff Like That There
95
 
11 2Safe
4
1980s & 1990s
8/8
PYT Pretty Young Thing0003P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
17
 
15 2Safe
5
Idol's Choice / Judge's Choice
6/6
Without You0003Without You
82
 
17 2Safe
6
Finale
6/6
Before Your Love0003Before Your Love
74
 
20 2Safe
7
Motown
12/12
Baby I Need Your Loving0003Baby I Need Your Loving
76
 
16 2Safe
8
Movie Hits
11/11
Home 10003Home
67
 
12 2Safe
9
Country Rock
10/10
Someone Elses Star0003Someone Else's Star
56
 
22 2Safe
10
Disco
8/8
Celebration0003Celebration
9
 
10 2Safe
11
Billboard #1 Hits
8/8
Kiss And Say Goodbye0003Kiss And Say Goodbye
87
 
17 2Safe
12
Billy Joel
7/7
Tell Her About It0003Tell Her About It
73
 
16 2Safe
13
Diane Warren Songs
6/6
Music Of My Heart0003Music Of My Heart
59
 
17 2Safe
14
1960s / Neil Sedaka
10/10
Solitaire0003Solitaire
92
 
14 2Safe
15
Bee Gees Songs
8/8
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart0003How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
78
 
19 2Safe
16
Random / Judge's / Idol's
9/9
Unchained Melody0003Unchained Melody
62
 
21 2Safe
17
Soul
12/12
Think0003Think
83
 
16 2Safe
18
Country
11/11
Sin Wagon0003Sin Wagon
89
 
16 2Safe
19
Motown
10/10
Aint Too Proud To Beg0003Ain't Too Proud To Beg
84
 
15 2Safe
20
Elton John
9/9
Circle Of Life0003Circle Of Life
89
 
18 2Safe
21
Movie Songs
8/8
Somewhere0003Somewhere
88
 
14 2Safe
22
Gloria Estefan
6/6
Turn The Beat Around0003Turn The Beat Around
72
 
18 2Safe
23
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
24
Disco
8/8
No More Tears Enough Is Enough0003No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
81
 
13 2Safe
25
Idol's / Clive's / Judge's
9/9
Dont Cry Out Loud0003Don't Cry Out Loud
84
 
14 2Safe
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