Carly Smithson Booted, American Idol Down to Five

Apr. 24 2008, Published 3:23 p.m. ET

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In the first "unfair" elimination of the season, Carly Smithson, who turned in one of the strongest performances during Andrew Lloyd Webber week, was sent packing, reminding all who pretend to believe otherwise, that American Idol is, surprise, a popularity contest! And that's okay.

Joining Smithson at the bottom was Syesha Mercado, whose lack of personality came back to bite her. Jason Castro and Brooke White were genuinely shocked to walk away unscathed, as all three judges roundly criticized their performances—but 38 million Idol voters mobilized to keep their favorites in the competition, and Castro and White, judging by the in-studio screaming of several hundred rabid teen girls, clearly have enormous fan bases.

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