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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 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
Now and Then
14/14
A Change Is Gonna Come0003A Change Is Gonna Come
58
 
28 2Safe
2
Music of the American Idols
10/10
A Moment Like This0003A Moment Like This
68
 
20 2Safe
3
Motown
10/10
Aint No Mountain High Enough0003Ain't No Mountain High Enough
48
 
16 2Safe
4
Top iTunes Downloads
9/9
Aint No Sunshine0003Ain't No Sunshine
87
 
9 2Safe
5
Soul / R&B
10/10
Aint No Sunshine0003Ain't No Sunshine
46
 
16 2Safe
6
Motown
10/10
Aint Too Proud To Beg0003Ain't Too Proud To Beg
84
 
15 2Safe
7
Open
8/8
All By Myself0003All By Myself
92
 
13 2Safe
8
1970s
10/10
All By Myself0003All By Myself
25
 
20 2Safe
9
Open
10/10
All The Man That I Need0003All The Man That I Need
65
 
15 2Safe
10
1980s
8/8
All The Man That I Need0003All The Man That I Need
46
 
15 2Safe
11
Year You Were Born
12/12
Alone0003Alone
47
 
21 2Safe
12
Burt Bacharach Love Songs
5/5
Always Something There To Remind Me0003(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me
15
 
18 4Bottom Group
13
Open
12/12
And I Am Telling You Im Not Going0003And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
88
 
15 2Safe
14
California / Wish You Wrote
10/10
And I Am Telling You Im Not Going0003And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
85
 
18 2Safe
15
Finale
6/6
Angels Brought Me Here0003Angels Brought Me Here
48
 
13 2Safe
16
Shania Twain
6/6
Any Man Of Mine0003Any Man Of Mine
42
 
31 7Eliminated
17
Classic Musicals
9/9
As Long As He Needs Me0003As Long As He Needs Me
71
 
19 2Safe
18
British Invasion
11/11
As Long As He Needs Me0003As Long As He Needs Me
80
 
16 2Safe
19
Open
5/5
As We Lay0003As We Lay
43
 
23 7Eliminated
20
Open
10/10
At Last0003At Last
60
 
21 2Safe
21
Motown
12/12
Baby I Need Your Loving0003Baby I Need Your Loving
76
 
16 2Safe
22
Billboard Hot 100
12/12
Be Without You0003Be Without You
84
 
19 2Safe
23
Finale
6/6
Before Your Love0003Before Your Love
74
 
20 2Safe
24
Elton John
11/11
Bennie And The Jets0003Bennie And The Jets
72
 
24 2Safe
25
Latin
8/8
Besame Mucho0003Besame Mucho
48
 
25 2Safe
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