Those sent packing include:
Kady Malloy, 18, from Houston, whose Wednesday try at Queen's "Who Wants To Live Forever" proved to be "forgettable" for lead panelist Simon Cowell and voting audiences alike.
Luke Menard, 29, from Crawfordsville, Ind., found that vocal gymnastics weren't enough after being nixed reprised his Tuesday performance of Wham! hit "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."
Asia'h Epperson, 19, from Joplin, Mo., "was just alright" by the standards of panelist Randy Jackson. America evidentially agreed with him after an unoriginal remake of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Cowell eluded to faulty song selection as a reason for Epperson's exit.
Epperson soldiered though her father's passing two days before her initial tryout to qualify for "Idol."
"I know that's what he'd have wanted me to do," Epperson said earlier in the competition.
Danny Noriega, 18, from Azusa, Calif., stood next to Chikeze Eze, 22, of Inglewood, Calif., to find out the last semifinalist to be expelled. Upon the announcement that Noriega would be dismissed, the large African-American crooner Eze clamped onto the lanky, waif-ish Noriega, hugging as if the two were long lost brothers.
"We're all real close," Noriega said, with tears streaming down his face. "We've been through so much together."
The effeminate Noriega, sang a sassy, unhibited version of Soft Cell hit "Tainted Love" that some found artistic and genuine. Finalist Ramiele Malubay, 20, of Miramar, Fla., laughed through her tears as Noriega cavorted and revved up the audience during an exit performance.
The last to be removed has often received the lowest amount of viewer votes.
Contestants will be permitted to sing Lennon-McCartney Beatles songs for the first time in the show's seven-year history after "Idol" producers secured rights for participants to perform the hard-to-get songs belonging to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
The top 12 "American Idol" finalists are:
— David Archuleta, 17, Murray, Utah
— Jason Castro, 20, Rockwall, Texas
— David Cook, 25, Blue Springs, Mo.
— Kristy Lee Cook, 24, Selma, Ore.
— Chikezie Eze, 22, Inglewood, Calif.
— David Hernandez, 24, Glendale, Ariz.
— Michael Johns, 29, Los Angeles
— Ramiele Malubay, 20, Miramar, Fla.
— Syesha Mercado, 21, Sarasota, Fla.
— Amanda Overmyer, 23, Mulberry, Ind.
— Carly Smithson, 24, San Diego
— Brooke White, 24, Mesa, Ariz.
Competition will resume March 11, when the top 12 sing from 8-10 p.m. followed by the Results Show on March 12, from 9-10 p.m., when one contestant is dismissed. Both shows will air on Fox.
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