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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 64.9, 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
Burt Bacharach / Wish You Wrote
12/12
Love Song Cure0003Lovesong
96
 
8 2Safe
2
Big Band
6/6
Stuff Like That There0003Stuff Like That There
95
 
11 2Safe
Year You Were Born
10/10
Billie Jean0003Billie Jean
95
 
12 2Safe
4
Year You Were Born
8/8
Mad World0003Mad World
94
 
19 2Safe
Now And Then
10/10
House Of Rising Sun0003House Of The Rising Sun
94
 
12 2Safe
6
1970s
10/10
Imagine0003Imagine
93
 
16 2Safe
Open
12/12
Ill Stand By You0003I'll Stand By You
93
 
11 2Safe
Personal Idol
9/9
Whole Lotta Love0003Whole Lotta Love
93
 
15 2Safe
9
1960s / Neil Sedaka
10/10
Solitaire0003Solitaire
92
 
14 2Safe
Open
8/8
All By Myself0003All By Myself
92
 
13 2Safe
Open
10/10
Hemorrhage In My Hands0003Hemorrhage (In My Hands)
92
 
6 2Safe
Finale
6/6
I Who Have Nothing0003I (Who Have Nothing)Reprise performance
92
 
8 2Safe
13
Open
10/10
Whipping Post0003Whipping Post
90
 
20 2Safe
Year You Were Born
8/8
Bohemian Rhapsody0003Bohemian Rhapsody
90
 
18 2Safe
15
Country
11/11
Sin Wagon0003Sin Wagon
89
 
16 2Safe
Elton John
9/9
Circle Of Life0003Circle Of Life
89
 
18 2Safe
Finale
6/6
Up To The Mountain0003Up To The Mountain
89
 
12 7Eliminated
18
Movie Songs
8/8
Somewhere0003Somewhere
88
 
14 2Safe
1970s Dance Music
7/7
Vehicle0003Vehicle
88
 
16 2Safe
Open
12/12
And I Am Telling You Im Not Going0003And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
88
 
15 2Safe
Open
8/8
Im A Woman0003I'm A Woman
88
 
7 2Safe
Rock
6/6
Slow Ride0003Slow RideDuet performance
88
 
15 8Group performance
Inspirational (Idol Gives Back)
7/7
People Get Ready0003People Get Ready
88
 
16 2Safe
Open
12/12
I Put A Spell On You0003I Put A Spell On You
88
 
13 2Safe
Competitors' Picks
10/10
Creep0003Creep
88
 
19 2Safe
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