Getting voted off on “American Idol” is never a fun experience, but the last of the three semifinal rounds is always particularly cruel. Each of the four contestants voted off the show on Thursday was one week away from being one of the 12 finalists. They came within a few moments of a huge chance to develop a fan base, and then had it snatched away while hearing Simon Cowell talk about how they really weren’t all that good anyway.
There were no big shocks among the unlucky this week, which didn’t make it any easier for Asia’h Epperson, Kady Malloy, Luke Menard or Danny Noriega.
The 19-year-old Epperson impressed early in the competition, but had a tough night on Wednesday. Of course, so did Kristy Lee Cook, who she was paired with onstage with one spot remaining, but whether it was Epperson’s unfortunate slot leading off Wednesday’s show or Cook’s touching story about how she pretended to be a dog when she was younger, Cook got a few more votes and Epperson got sent home.
Epperson did have the consolation of some kind feedback from Paula Abdul — the “Idol” judge always seems sad and surprised to see people’s dreams crushed, even though it’s happened on the show every week for the past seven years.
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“This is one brave, beautiful talented star,” she told Epperson. “There’s nothing, nothing that’s going to stop you.”
Except, apparently, the “Idol” voters who didn’t think she was one of the six best women.
Noriega was pitted against Chikezie for the final spot in the top 12, and Ryan Seacrest took his time drawing out the suspense. They had to wait through a commercial break, watch as Epperson was eliminated, and listen to her sing before finally being called out onstage to have Ryan read them the news. Noriega had been crying since the first elimination of the night, but pulled it together long enough to make it through a final performance of “Tainted Love” to close the show.
Menard, Malloy’s fate no surprise
There was much less drama with the first two singers who got the bad news, particularly as the show looked to end a lot of the suspense early.
David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Brooke White and Syesha Mercado were all given their spots in the top 12 before a single elimination took place. Michael Johns and David Hernandez had to wait a little longer, but each was quickly sent to the good side of the stage with little in the way of fake drama from Ryan. Carly Smithson, Ramiele Malubay and Amanda Overmyer got rushed to the stools of safety soon after.
Malloy went first, smiling as she stood up and patiently waiting for the obvious bad news.
Menard’s fate was even more obvious, since the first five guys Ryan called upon were given free passes to the final 12.
“This is the first day of the rest of your career and life,” Paula said.
Trust the feel-good judge to put a positive spin on a dismal night for the four eliminated singers.