04/04/2013 AT 10:00 PM ET
It’s always interesting when American Idol brings back a former winner to perform on their stage. Older, wiser and much more polished, they often bear little resemblance to the contestants.
On Thursday’s show, Carrie Underwood’s performance showed how far she came from when she competed eight years ago on season 4. It was hard not to look at the final seven contestants and wonder if any of them would ever be able to duplicate her success.
“There’s so much talent on this stage,” she said.
Carey has been an interesting judge this season, overusing words like “amazing” and “wonderful” while frequently dissolving into tears. Compared to her, Paula Abdul was a barracuda.
And then the lights dimmed and Ryan Seacrest began to announce the results. Would Lazaro Arbos survive after flubbing the words again?
As it turned out, America voted for Arbos in a big way, propelling him into the top three alongside Kree Harrison and Angie Miller.
Keep in mind that the results were announced in no particular order. For all we know, Arbos could have gotten the lion’s share of the 25 million votes. (We can only assume that producer Jimmy Iovine, who had confidently declared that Arbos would go home, was gnashing his teeth in the green room.)