'Idol' axes contestant Rogers; 11 left


NEW YORK -- Brandon Rogers, who forgot the words to his song on Tuesday's "American Idol," had a feeling he wouldn't last. He got confirmation Wednesday.

Rogers, a former backup singer from Los Angeles, became the first of the final dozen to be voted off the top-rated Fox network sing-off.

"I have no hard feelings," Rogers, 28, said before leaving the stage. "I kind of expected it."

Rogers said he committed a "cardinal sin" by stumbling with some of the lyrics of the Motown classic "You Can't Hurry Love." Judge Simon Cowell, who has routinely criticized Rogers for a lack of charisma, said his performance was dull and uninspired.

Sanjaya Malakar and Phil Stacey had the next-lowest vote tallies in the phone ballotting, which drew about 28 million calls and text messages.

Observers find it remarkable that 17-year-old Malakar, of Federal Way, Wash., has survived thus far. Though his rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was roundly panned by the judges, Cowell gave the "Idol" oddball credit for being what he called "brave."

Stacey, 29, from Jacksonville, Fla., sang "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" to lukewarm reviews.

Wednesday's show also featured a performance by Diana Ross, who coached the hopefuls this week. She sang "More Today Than Yesterday," a classic love song from her latest CD, "I Love You."

"American Idol" continues to rule the ratings, attracting between 27 million and 37 million viewers per telecast this season.

The winner will be chosen in May.