Simon Cowell's "dark horse" and three victims of poor song selection were eliminated during last night's live American Idol seventh-season results show broadcast that revealed the Top 16 semifinalists.
Jason Yeager, Alexandrea Lushington, Alaina Whitaker and Robbie Carrico were ousted from Idol 7 after "almost 31 million" home viewer votes were cast following Tuesday and Wednesday night's performance episode broadcasts that saw the Top 10 male and female semifinalists perform songs from the 1970s.
During last night's broadcast, Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed male semifinalists Michael Johns, Chikezie Eze, Jason Castro and Danny Noriega were all safe before telling Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO, that he was cut.
Yeager sang The Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'" during Tuesday night's performance episode. Idol judge Randy Jackson thought Yeager didn't do himself "justice" by picking the song and Paula Abdul agreed, telling Yeager the tune didn't show his "vocal range" and suggested he "pick singer's songs." Cowell added it was like Yeager was "drunk at a party or something" during the performance.
"Based on the criticism and everything, I had a feeling I was going to be in the bottom rung," Yeager told Seacrest after his elimination was revealed. "I tried to mentally prepare for it... Last Tuesday I just feel like I really, honestly put everything out there. I was really surprised by there criticism."
Yeager then offered some advice to the remaining contestants.
"Song choice. Just find that perfect song that really showcases your vocals," he said. "I don't think I was able to do that."
Cowell thought it also went beyond song choice for Yeager.
"Your problem Jason, quite simply, is that you don't stand out in the crowd at the moment. And that's difficult," Cowell told him. "It comes down to charisma, personality, singing presence -- because you're not a bad singer -- you just don't stand out."
Seacrest then revealed Kristy Lee Cook, Asia'h Epperson, Brooke White and Amanda Overmyer were all safe before telling Lushington, a 17-year-old from Douglasville, GA, she was the next semifinalist cut from the competition.
Lushington sang Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" during Wednesday night's performance episode. Jackson thought it was a "safe" song choice -- which made it "boring." While Abdul was impressed and Cowell agreed he's been a big fan of hers, he also sided with Jackson in calling Lushington's performance "boring" while questioning the song selection.
"To me it's not really the right choice," said Jackson after Lushington's ouster was revealed, presumably expecting it to be Overmyer instead. "Listen, here's the problem. You're a great singer, you've got great skills, you just picked the wrong song. It was the wrong time for that. You needed to shine every time."
Seacrest stuck with the ladies and revealed Carly Smithson, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado and Kady Malloy were all safe -- meaning Whitaker, a 16-year-old from Tulsa, OK, was the second female semifinalist eliminated.
Whitaker sang "Hopelessly Devoted to You" during Wednesday night's performance episode and while Cowell didn't like the performance -- calling it "very old-fashioned" and "pageanty" -- he'd also still called her "one of the dark horses" of the competition. In addition, Jackson didn't think it "was the right song" for her.
"I can't sing!" said a visibly emotional Whitaker after Seacrest revealed her elimination, as she turned her back to the camera with tears rolling down her face. "I'm sorry... It's embarrassing."
After Seacrest tried to put the reality of her accomplishments into perspective to help calm her down, he turned to Abdul for help.
"You are such a gifted, bright, young talent," she told Whitaker. "We say it's just the beginning -- and I know it's hard to hear that -- but Alaina, truth be told, this is the start of an amazing career for you."
Seacrest said because the situation was so "emotional and tough," he gave Whitaker the option of singing her farewell performance or not. She declined, but the audience implored and she was surrounded by her fellow female semifinalists, who helped her with her final performance.
With only one semifinalist left to eliminate Seacrest called Carrico and Luke Menard to center stage and revealed David Hernandez, David Archuleta and David Cook were all safe. Seacrest then delivered the news that Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL, was booted.
Carrico sang Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" during Tuesday night's performance episode and the former boy-band member once again had his "authenticity" as a rocker questioned by the judges. Abdul also thought Carrico "played it a little safe" with his song choice.
"I think it was bad song choice," admitted Carrico after his ouster was revealed. "I think I could have done it better."
Cowell took the opportunity to once again attack the now former semifinalist's authenticity.
"I've said this from Day 1: It's authenticity," said Cowell to Carrico. "I think the public saw what we saw, and that was the problem. It just never, ever felt real Robbie. Sorry."
In addition to the eliminations, Seacrest told fans the "exciting news" that Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed hits, had granted Idol permission to let contestants perform tunes from the songbook. Idol 7's Top 12 finalists will perform tunes from the Beatles' songbook during the Tuesday, March 11 episode broadcast.
Seacrest also revealed Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Reese Witherspoon, Mariah Carey, Snoop Dog, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood will all be participating in Idol Gives Back, a live two-hour concert and fundraiser scheduled to air Wednesday, April 9 at 8PM ET (PT tape-delayed) on Fox.
Idol 7's Top 8 male semifinalists will take the stage next Tuesday at 8PM ET/PT for a one-hour performance episode broadcast, followed by the Top 8 female semifinalists on Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT. On Thursday night at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewers votes, and Idol 7's Top 12 finalists will be revealed.