After a week of free passes, there was no avoiding the ominous specter of elimination on "American Idol" Thursday night. Someone had to go and that someone was Amber Holcomb.

Her ouster came as no shock. Despite overt efforts by the judges in recent weeks to herald the 18-year-old from Houston as a "current" and highly "marketable" choice, the "Idol" voting masses never bought it. She often flirted with elimination and found herself in the Bottom 2 following last week's competition.

During Wednesday's performance round, Amber was knocked by the judges for her wobbly performance of Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" (She "sounded karaoke," according to "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine). She rebounded nicely on her second song -- "Funny Valentine" -- but it obviously wasn't enough.

That leaves us with a Top 3 of Candice Glover, who dominated Wednesday's performances, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison, who was in the Bottom 2 Thursday. Next week, they'll not only vie for two spots in the final, but will take part in the highly prized hometown visits.

After learning of her elimination, Amber, looking as gorgeous as ever, bowed out with a tearful rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me" that was halted when her father hopped on stage to hug his baby.

More than 81 million votes were cast over the two weeks, according to host Ryan Seacrest.

On a happier note, Season 7 "Idol" champ David Cook showed up to give us a taste of his new single, "Laying Me Low." In addition, Will.i.am performed a number from the "Great Gatsby" soundtrack, and this week's guest mentor, Harry Connick Jr., was on hand to sing "Every Man Should Know." Connick, who clearly has a good sense of humor, joked that he and Randy Jackson kissed and made up (and fell asleep together watching a movie) after their little debate on Wednesday.

In other "Idol" news, we were reminded that tickets for the summer tour, which includes a July 14 stop in Oakland, go on sale Friday. Judging from the show's declining ratings, sellouts will be a rarity.