Ever since its introduction in season eight, the "American Idol" judges save has been a major player in each season once fan voting comes into play. Matt Giraud got the save in season eight during the top seven show, with Michael Lynche earning redemption in season nine while nine contestants remained. Casey Abrams was famously saved in season 10 during the top 11, the earliest the save has ever been used. Eventual season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez received the fewest votes in the top seven, but was saved before she even had a chance to sing for a spot on the show.
Fast forward to 2013, where "Idol" has just finished its top seven results show. After Janelle Arthur and Burnell Taylor were announced as the bottom two vote-getters, it was Taylor who had to sing to avoid elimination, trying to avoid becoming the fourth straight male contestant voted out. One song later, the save was not used, marking the deepest point into the season in which the option remains. Once the show hits its top five, the save disappears.
Taylor, the 19-year-old Louisiana native who survived Hurricane Katrina with his family, established himself early on as a formidable contender, certainly on the men's side. He was regarded as one of the show's more inventive, producing a highly recognizable tone and vocal style that featured a rasp on certain notes that received major acclaim. But like many of his predecessors, Taylor fell victim to a weak crop of males in comparison to a strong female presence on the show (no ladies have been eliminated since the show hit its top 10, and Aubrey Cleland was voted as singer No. 11, gaining her entrance onto the summer "Idol" tour), as well as an unfortunate theme week (rock) and one-time rule (no ballads) that went against his usual oeuvre. His performance of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" was karaoke at best, the sound of a singer out of his comfort zone and trying to minimize potential damage to his overall fan base.
Despite an above average "Ready for Love" that probably would have earned him a save in past seasons, Randy Jackson announced that the decision to use the save was not unanimous, which meant the end of the line for Taylor. The decision (or lack thereof) was not incredibly surprising; Nicki Minaj has stated that no one would get a save on the show following Curtis Finch Jr.'s top 10 elimination, also dismissing the notion of the save entirely. Next week will tell if that's true or not; it's the last chance the judges have to use the save.
More surprising was the inclusion of Lazaro Arbos in the top three after a few weeks of panned performances by the judges. Though the order of the top three was not revealed, Arbos slotted into the distinction with Angie Miller and Kree Harrison. He's the last male on the show, the one contestant standing in the way of an all-girl top five.
The telecast included performances by two former "Idol" contestants. Casey James, the third-place finisher on season eight who has since found a home on country radio, reminded viewers of his vocal and guitar chops on "The Good Life," while season four winner Carrie Underwood performed "See You Again," the fourth single off the Platinum-selling "Blown Away."