LOS ANGELES >> Deandre Brackensick, the "American Idol" finalist with Hawaii ties, was among the bottom three Thursday night. But it was Erika Van Pelt who didn’t make the cut.
The 26-year-old disc jockey from South Kingstown, R.I., who dramatically chopped off her hair before Wednesday’s evening of Billy Joel tunes, was eliminated from the Fox singing contest. Van Pelt didn’t persuade the show’s judges to rescue her from dismissal Thursday with a last-chance rendition of Whitney Houston’s "I Believe In You and Me."
"Ultimately, Ryan, no, sorry," judge Randy Jackson told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest when asked if she would be saved.
Van Pelt, who pleased the panel Wednesday with her shorter, darker hairstyle and sultry interpretation of "New York State of Mind," was revealed to be among the bottom three vote-getters alongside 17-year-old vocal acrobat Brackensick of San Jose, Calif., and goofy 22-year-old nonprofit organizer Heejun Han of New York.
"Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine lashed out at 21-year-old pawn shop worker Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., for not following the advice of the show’s advisers for his performance. Iovine also admonished Han for his over-the-top take on "My Life."
"I’m not trying to be a star," Han said in response to the criticism. "I’m just trying to be who I am."
The nine remaining finalists will return to the stage to perform for viewer votes next Wednesday.