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‘Idol’ Top 5 Results: Throwback Thursday With Paula, Fantasia & Clay!

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Paula returns! [photo: Michael Yarish/Fox]

Obviously, it's a "girls' season" on "American Idol" this year. And never was that more true than on the series' top five results show this throwback Thursday--when the judge who's forever "Idol's" girl, the one and only Paula Abdul, made a surprise appearance, sat back in her comfy old judging chair, and reminded viewers of those old-school "Idol" days when the judges actually all got along.

The previous night, frontrunner Candice Glover had performed Paula's iconic 1989 hit "Straight Up," and it was one of the highlights of the episode. On Thursday, Paula's pal Randy Jackson gave a fairly good fakeout, when he claimed that he'd tried to reach out to Paula to get her opinion on Candice's cover, but hadn't been able to contact her…but then out sauntered Paula, all ravishing in red, and the crowd predictably exploded. It was PAULER!

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Paula reclaims her throne!

"I've seen this remarkable young lady captivate the audience week after week, and I was really moved that you shared your beautiful vocals on a song that's been a best friend to me," Paula told a beaming Candice, bringing the warm fuzzies to a previously bad-vibey "Idol" season. Then Keith Urban and Randy chivalrously got out of their chairs to make room for Paula, and she radiantly reclaimed her center seat--right in between new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. "That's an image I can scratch off my bucket list," said a smiling Ryan Seacrest--hopefully referring to the sight of his former co-star back in that chair, and not the peekaboo thong that Nicki awkwardly flashed when she stood up to greet Paula.

But you know, regardless...that all-female panel of Nicki/Paula/Mariah looked pretty sweet. I would co-sign a judging lineup like that in Season 13--because if there's anyone who could make Nicki and Mariah get along, it's PAULER!

The "Idol" nostalgia continued with a rare appearance by Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken, who sang his signature cover song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (take that, Lazaro Arbos!), followed by Season 3 champion Fantasia doing her fantastic new single "Lose to Win" and a where-are-they-now piece on Fantasia's S3 castmate, LaToya London. This all seemed like the producers' ploy to court the longtime "Idol" diehards that the show alienated this year with controversial casting choices and TMZ-leaked feuds. But you know what? The ploy worked. It was like the best episode of "American Idol Rewind" ever, and all that was missing was the triumphant return of Brian Dunkleman. "Idol" viewers were totally partying like it was 2003, and the entire results show was a very welcome reminder of the long-running, much-loved TV institution's glory days. It was a moment like this, we were flying without wings inside your heaven because we believed, and yes, it did make us proud. This was our now, and it was the time of our lives.

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Janelle goes home [photo: Michael Yarish/Fox]

But it wasn't the time of her life for top five contestant Janelle Arthur, who received the fewest votes this week and did NOT get the Judges' Save, despite the fact that this was the last week for the judges to use it or lose it. Poor, poor Janelle. But on the bright side, maybe this means that the Save can be used on Paula, and Paula can come back next week.

Parker out.

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