Don’t stop believing, James.
Despite wowing the judges with his rendition of the Journey classic a night before, Santa Cruz native James Durbin was eliminated on Thursday’s American Idol results show, making for the 10th season’s biggest shocker since the abrupt end of Pia Toscano‘s run.
The heavy metal singer, 22, was one of the bottom two finalists alongside Scotty McCreery on a night Ryan Seacrest said 72 million voters cast their selections, marking a top-four record.
In the wake of the huge disappointment — remember, judge Randy Jackson recently claimed he felt Durbin was the favorite — both Durbin and judge Jennifer Lopez shed tears following the elimination.
“I was really hoping to get there … I did so much stuff that’s never been done on this show before,” Durbin said Thursday. “I did what I came here to do — to give metal a chance.”
Durbin brought the unique combo of talent and backstory: diagnosed with both Tourette syndrome and Asperger’s, the father-of-one entered the competition unemployed. At the age of nine, he lost his father, also an aspiring musician, to a drug overdose.
The remaining contestants include McCreery, Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina; all will visit their hometowns this weekend for segments that will air next week.
American Idol returns Wednesday on Fox at 8/7c. This season’s champ will be announced on the show’s May 26 finale.