LOS ANGELES DeAndre Brackensick, a curly-haired contestant adored by judge Jennifer Lopez, on Thursday became the third contestant booted from "American Idol," leaving seven of the original 10 finalists remaining on the top-rated TV singing contest.
Brackensick received a hug from Lopez before exiting the stage. The pop superstar revealed she had voted to use the "save" allotted to the judges, but fellow panelists Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler had not agreed with her.
The "save" allows judges to overrule audience votes and keep a singer on the show. It will expire when the program narrows to five final contestants later this season.
Brackensick was let go after his performance of "I Like It" by 1980s family singers DeBarge left audiences and judges wanting on Wednesday's singing episode. Contestant mentor Jimmy Iovine criticized the effort as the worst among the show's male performers and said Brackensick "needs to come out and grow at a much faster pace."
This week on "Idol," audiences judged contestants based on their handling of songs from the 1980s, which they sang on Wednesday. The performances also landed Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone among the bottom three with Cavanagh's version of "What a Feeling" and Testone's "I Want To Know What Love Is"
Highlights of Thursday's episode included a visit from Season 5 contestant Kelly Pickler, who sang "Where's Tammy Wynnette," as well as boy band The Wanted, which performed "Glad You Came."
"Idol" first aired on Fox in 2002, and has launched the careers of singers Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson, among others. Now in its 11th season, the show continues to be the most watched reality TV show in America, though it has received stiff competition from "The Voice" this year.
Audiences vote for their favorite performers by phone and text message each week as contestants are challenged by a variety of musical styles. The winning contestant receives a recording contract. This season's winner will be decided in May.
(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte)