American Idol's Nigel Lythgoe: Pia Toscano 'Was Never a Frontrunner'
"The fact of the matter is, it appears that Pia didn't connect with the audience the way we maybe think she did," says the executive producer.
While American Idol viewers reeled in shock over fan favorite Pia Toscano's unexpected elimination Thursday night, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe was not surprised.
Lythgoe, speaking to Yahoo at the So You Think You Can Dance callback auditions in Las Vegas, revealed that he had never expected Toscano to win the competition.
"I know the results, so I know she was never a frontrunner," he said.
He added that although he was initially angry when he found out Toscano would be going home, it didn't take long for him to resign himself to the fact.
"I've realized that at the end of the day, this is going to happen every week now because the talent is so strong," he said. "The fact of the matter is, it appears that Pia didn't connect with the audience the way we maybe think she did."
The Internet has been rife with speculation over why Toscano, one of the show's most consistent singers, was cut so early on in the competition without any prior trips to the bottom three. Some fans blamed her unflattering outfit Wednesday night, while others took aim at the judges for jumping the gun and using their save on Casey Abrams during Top 11 week.
Lythgoe, however, defended the judges' decision to save Abrams. "I think Casey is unique, and really good for 'Idol,' and doesn't just give us the same old singer every time; he gives us something totally different," he said. "I'm all for that."
He also hinted at a possible format change in future seasons: "Maybe if we change the rules next season, maybe do the same thing we do on So You Think You Can Dance ... so that America votes for the bottom three, and then the judges decide who goes home ... I think that will be thought about."