During Wednesday night's Top 10 show on "American Idol," Curtis Finch Jr. belted out a song called "I Believe." Apparently, the nation's voters didn't.

Finch, a worship leader from St. Louis, Mo., became the first member of the "Idol" Top 10 to pack his bags when he was eliminated on Thursday. His ouster came one night after veering off key on the coronation song that Fantasia sang to cap off her Season 3 title run. Unfortunately, for Curtis, it turned out to be his farewell song.

Curtis landed in the Bottom 2, along with Devin Velez.

The first Top 10 elimination was somewhat of a shock. Although he probably never had a legitimate shot of winning the whole thing, Curtis had been generally considered to be one of the stronger vocalists among a weak group of male singers.

Host Ryan Seacrest revealed that the "Idol" judges will again have a one-time save option, so Curtis did get a chance to sing for his survival, choosing to go with the schmaltzy "I Believe I Can Fly." After a deliberation that Nicki Minaj thought was way too brief, the judges sent Curtis on his way.

Minaj, who apparently voted to keep Curtis, had earlier threatened to leave with him if he got booted.

"I definitely don't think Curtis belongs in the Bottom 2," Nicki said before his final performance. "C'mon, America, are you kidding me? ... If you go home, I'm going home."

When his elimination was announced, Nicki left her seat, but did return for his song and gave Curtis a standing ovation.


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"Idol" also took a page from "The X Factor" playbook by revealing, for the first time, the top three vote-getters, but not the order in which they finished. They were (alphabetically) Candice Glover, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller. After them, the remaining vote-getters were ranked as follows:

4th place: Lazaro Arbos

5th place: Amber Holcomb

6th place: Janelle Arthur

7th place: Burnell Taylor

8th place: Paul Jolley

Some observations: The rankings confirm what we've known for weeks -- that the girls are dominating the competition, though you can argue that Amber belonged in the Top 3 based on Wednesday's performances. ... The numbers also revealed the stunning extent of Lazaro's popularity. Even though he delivered one of the three worst performances on Wednesday, there he sits in the No. 4 position, undoubtedly on the strength of votes by young girls and cooing grandmas.

It will be interesting to see if he can maintain, or build on, that appeal. It will also be interesting to see if there's much movement in the top of the rankings over ensuing weeks. On "The X Factor," we saw very little shifting of the main contenders. If that's the case, we could be looking at our first all-female final since Season 3, the only time that has happened.

"Idol" offered another new twist, bringing back eliminated contestants Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland for a special sing-off, the winner of which will get to join the Top 10 on the "Idol" summer concert tour.

Askew went with an original song called "Sky Blue Diamond" and Cleland performed Irene Cara's "Out Here on My Own."

Viewer votes will determine the winner, who will be announced during next Wednesday's show.

Providing entertainment Thursday night were Bon Jovi and Phillip Phillips. Last year's "Idol" champ sang his new single "Gone, Gone, Gone," which like his mega hit "Home," has a very folksy, Mumford and Sons-like vibe to it. And speaking of "Home," it has gone quadruple-platinum, a milestone marked with a special plaque awarded to Phillips on stage by Randy Jackson.