American Idol Top 30 Performances of All Time: No. 25, Pia Toscano, “I’ll Stand By You”

She got screwed by Casey Abrams on national TV.

She got screwed by Casey Abrams on national TV.

The judging in American Idol’s first season post-Simon Cowell was an unmitigated disaster.

Simon was so beloved as a judge because he didn’t bullshit anyone. He wasn’t mean for the sake of being mean and he wasn’t going to reward mediocrity with a heaping load of praise.

So when Season 10 started, the question was how the judges – holdover Randy Jackson and newcomers Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler – would act toward contestants.

They continued to crap all over the head cases and disasters in auditions, but once the live shows hit nobody could do anything wrong. Every poor performance was sugar coated more than Frosted Flakes and fans never really had an idea of who was doing well.

But it was even worse than that. For one, without Simon, the save was used so irresponsibly it pretty much ruined the season. Casey Abrams, who was a terrific character for the show but only about average as a performer, got a little too artsy for America and was rightfully sent home in the second week of the live shows. BUT WAIT.

The judges, who loved the goofy-looking bastard, freaked the fuck out with Randy screaming and stopping his “save” performance to announce they were using it. Fine. He’d be gone the next week.

Except he wasn’t.

He was saved, avoided being eliminated during the following week’s elimination and then, the very next week, the shock of the season – Pia Toscano, who should have been, at worst, a final three contestant – was booted. The judges were shocked. Would have been an awesome time to save someone, but they royally fucked that up.

Now how did that happen?

Pia just sang ballads. Ballad after ballad. She sang them well, but it wasn’t “exciting.” Trust me – I was bored to tears and ballads usually make me cry.

The judges told her how boring she was and said she needed to sing an up-tempo song. So she did, singing Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High.” She was out of her element and it showed.

So basically, had the judges shut their fucking mouths and not been stupid, Pia would have had a monster run on the show. How do I know?

Check out what we have to say about Pia’s appearance on the Dudes Review Idol American Idol Top 30 Performances of All-Time list with the Pretenders “I’ll Stand By You.”

THE SITUATION: There were 12 females left with six going to the finals and one wild card spot open. It seemed like Pia was a lock, but you never take chances in Idol (but to be fair, there was no way the producers were letting a smoking hot chick with the voice to match NOT be in the finals).

Closing the show (seems to be a theme; a lot of show closers make this list), Pia comes out with a ballad – to no one’s surprise – and then leaves with everyone’s jaws on the floor. If she wasn’t so damn nice, she would have dropped the mic Eddie Murphy style and flipped everyone off as she walked off the stage screaming “who’s playing for second, bitches.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Can we just say the whole damn thing?

First off, she’s just an absolute smokeshow. Probably Top 3 hottest chicks to ever grace the Idol stage. The lighting is perfect because all eyes on Pia and she didn’t disappoint.

Like any great performance, Pia nails the start with a calming, controlled verse. It’s a setup. You think it’s staying at the easy pace and she never gives you an idea she’s going to get loud. Sneaky good part of the song? Her first “When the night falls on you” part (34 seconds in).

Then she delivers her first “I’ll stand by you” and it’s just perfect.

As she goes on and starts letting her voice go – a couple great runs mixed in – she doesn’t get outrageously loud, but has so much control it’s a tease. You want her to go bigger, but she’s not; she’s in control of the performance. She’s drawing you in some more.

Because the ending? Good god. The notes on the big “You?” The way she holds “stand?” Get the fuck out of here.

Flawless. It’s just flawless. There might not have ever been a more technically sound performance. Everyone note from start to finish is delivered with purpose and precision.

WHY IT’S HERE: It’s perfect. Literally perfect. And it’s hard to admit because I hated Pia.

Her performances definitely weren’t as entertaining as, say, Paul McDonald or Jacob Lusk, but that wasn’t Pia. She was going to stand up, sing and do a hell of a job.

And she would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those good-for-nothing judges.

PREVIOUSLY: No. 26, Haley Reinhart, “Benny and the Jets”

NEXT UP: The only thing wrong with this performance was not having someone walk out and drape a cape on the Idol as he walked off the stage.