'American Idol': Did The Judges Use The Save Too Soon?
'American Idol': Did The Judges Use The Save Too Soon?
Ryan Seacrest promised a "shocking result" on American Idol tonight, and he pretty much delivered.

We were all writing off Haley Reinhart. But no, she was safe this week. She wasn't even in the bottom three, which is good news in a way, but frustrating nonetheless. Instead, Casey Abrams, perhaps one of the stronger contenders this season, got the least amount of votes. He can't be going home, right? Of course, he wasn't -- from the moment Randy Jackson interrupted his performance, we knew he was going to be saved. And yes, the judges used their only save of the season on him.

Read our recap of Idol's "shocking" results show

Full disclosure: I'm a Casey fan, so I'm obviously thrilled to see him saved, and I definitely think he deserves the save. But considering who else was in the bottom with him -- Stefano Langone, who did too much with Lionel Richie's tender "Hello", and Thia Megia, who still can't find her way despite having such a mature voice -- Casey had to be saved. We're still at that point in Idol where we're trimming the fat: there are still many contestants who aren't living up to their potential (read: Thia and Naima) or have already run their course (read: Scotty and possibly Pia). Remove one of the more exciting contenders this year, and you're left with a season so predictable you can bet that "charming" Lauren Alaina will win.

I'll go as far as saying that Casey is the contestant made for the save. Apart from him being a favorite to win, the save tends to be used on underrated contestants who have a good idea of who they are as an artist. Matt Giraud was definitely that in season 8. Michael Lynche was definitely that in season 9. Casey approached every performance like it was his last, picking songs with a clear idea on what to do. In his case, he also takes the stage with an intensity that consumes him -- and it either mesmerizes us or has us reaching for the remote.

It's likely that Casey's "gargle-singing" (as a friend described it) turned off a few voters. The past couple of weeks he was too consumed by his numbers -- he was looking a bit too creepy -- and sometimes I wish he would return to his Hollywood week form. But the judges still love him, so I thought he'd be safe again. I guess that's why he found himself in the bottom tonight, this early in the season. We all thought he was safe already.

But it's also likely that the voters just turned off and went for, I don't know, Lauren Alaina? In a way Casey was polarizing, much like Adam Lambert or Siobhan Magnus, precisely because he knew what we was doing. But I'll admit, he did go into overdrive the past couple of weeks, something that Jennifer Lopez definitely highlighted tonight -- and something we saw in Casey's rudely interrupted for-the-save number.

So we'll be seeing more of Casey next week, but are his days numbered? In season 8 Matt went home two weeks after he was saved. A year later, Big Mike went home after five weeks -- but by then he already overstayed his welcome. Is Casey inevitably headed out the door? Maybe the voters will get fed up all over again and toss him for good, but as I said, we're still trimming the fat on this year's Idol finalists. Casey, for all his weird faces, is not the proverbial fat.

Sure, he may be polarizing, but he's not the only one: we're still torn over Paul McDonald's singing (or lack thereof?) and we're still arguing about Haley's grunts and Lauren's "charm." I'd like to think that Casey getting the least votes tonight was just a wrong turn in an otherwise straight road. Or maybe it's all wishful thinking.

What's not wishful thinking: there's work to be done. Two go home next week.

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(Image courtesy of Fox)