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'American Idol' Recap: Who Was Eliminated?

SPOILER ALERT: And then there were nine, as another “Idol” contender bites the dust.

American Idol Top 10 Performance Erika Van Pelt - P 2012
Michael Becker/Fox

Erika Van Pelt's drastic style transformation wasn’t enough to save the Rhode Island singer from elimination on Thursday night’s American Idol.

Despite going along with stylist Tommy Hilfiger’s suggestion to crop her locks and dye them dark the day before her live performance, (a move Jimmy Iovine said he has never seen in all of his years), Van Pelt’s impressive effort with Billy Joel’s "New York State of Mind" didn’t resonate with Idol voters, who regularly sent her to the bottom three. But tonight she was out the door, shaking her maracas (Ryan Seacrest offered her a margarita to go with them).  

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Van Pelt sang for her life with Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me,” but the judges didn’t even deliberate. Randy Jackson curtly told Seacrest that the save would not be utilized (clearly, they are saving it for Elise Testone, who avoided the bottom three after two consecutive weeks of being banished to the stools of doom).

The remaining nine Idols all get to live in the American Idol mansion, but Van Pelt fans can take heart: She -- and her new hair do -- will head out on the American Idol tour this summer.

Van Pelt shared the bottom three with DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han, whose comic turn on Joel’s "My Life" didn’t win him any love from Iovine.

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"His performance was like four minutes of a bad Adam Sandler movie that goes straight to DVD," said Iovine, who added that Han will never, ever, be signed to Interscope records. Clearly, Iovine is annoyed.

That wasn’t Iovine’s only gripe. His advice to Brackensick was to have fun with “Only the Good Die Young,” but he wasn’t thrilled with how Brackensick took his direction and wasn’t expecting the teen to jump all over the stage.

Not only did Iovine think Brackensick was jumping up and down too much, he believed the singer didn’t really get into the heart and soul of the song.

"You have to study these songs. You have to know what they're about,” he moaned.

Iovine seemed downright grouchy when discussing Phillip Phillips and his anti-style, noting that the on-stage presentation is just as important as the vocals.

"When you're out there in the real world doing your own material, be who you are. But when you're in this competition, young man, take all the advice you can get,” he said.

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But the critiques weren't all negative. Iovine as well as Billy Joel himself had nothing but love and praise for Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon, who Iovine identified as the “third horse” of the competition, behind Sanchez (“A’s across the board”) and Joshua Ledet, whom Iovine is still backing despite admitting that Ledet over sang on “She’s Got a Way.”

Iovine also admitted that Testone gave him “goosies” on her sterling reading of “Vienna” (thank goodness America got that one right and returned Testone to safety after weeks of banishing her to the bottom three), felt that Hollie Cavanagh looked like a diva trapped in the headlights, and that country cutie Skylar Laine needs to step up her game and get more “creative.”

Other highlights from the evening include judge Steven Tyler being serenaded by his Aerosmith bandmate Joe Perry with a rocking “Happy Birthday”; a group acappella number of Joel’s “The Longest Time”; Kelly Clarkson getting some love on one of her lesser known -- but awesome -- track, “You Found Me,” on the Ford commercial; Jennifer Lopez glowing in pink; a pre-taped performance by Lana Del Rey, in which she was less stiff than her SNL gig; and the return of Season 10’s Haley Reinhart, who showed the kids just how much growth can happen in the span of one year after participating on Idol. We sure hope they took mental notes!

What did you think, Worshippers? Did America get it right? Don’t miss THR's Idol Hangover here at THR.com tomorrow at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST with special guests Pia Toscano and Radio Disney’s Jake Whetter.

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