American Idol: Jason Castro


Eyes, look your last.

Jason Castro, he of the long lashes and nappy dreads, was eliminated from American Idol Wednesday after leaving a season-high 51 million voters with practically no choice following his stunted salute to rock 'n' roll.

After wowing the judges and millions of viewers with indie radio-ready renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Hallelujah," "Travelin' Thru" and more, the 21-year-old Texas A&M student had seemingly been riding the wave downward over the past few weeks, crashing and burning last night with a squeaky "I Shot the Sheriff" and a bungled "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Which could have been so good, except for that whole skipped-lyrics thing that had Simon Cowell advising Castro to pack his suitcases.

"Three songs next week—I don't know what I would have done," Castro agreed when host Ryan Seacrest observed that he looked somewhat relieved to be going home.

"It's just getting tough for me," he had said a few minutes before the send-off. "I think my inexperience is coming in…I tried to pick two I knew and, even that…I don't know."

Which seemed to be a theme with Castro, who made up with good-natured easygoingness what he lacked in quick-witted interview prowess.

Not that he's been alone in that respect.

First off, David Archuleta shuffled over to Seacrest, looking like the pint-size prodigy who keeps winning all the academic accolades on graduation day, grinning sheepishly ear to ear.

"Yeah, I'd love to," he said in that hushed, practically hyperventilating voice when Seacrest asked whether he still wanted to be this year's American Idol. (Perhaps Archuleta was thrown by the inanity of that question, as well.)

Having gone 2 for 2 with solid, albeit easy-listening, versions of "Stand by Me" and "Love Me Tender," Archuleta was perfectly safe, once again ushered to the sofa without ever having known what it feels like to have to wait until the show's waning minutes to learn his fate.

David Cook, who ventured into karaoke territory with "Hungry Like the Wolf" but redeemed himself with "Baba O'Riley," was also swept to safety, leaving Castro and Syesha Mercado to sweat it out during viewer-submitted Q's (this week, one woman thought Cowell would make a great James Bond and another wondered why he hasn't been knighted yet) and performances by Maroon 5 and Bo Bice (who confirmed he and his wife are expecting their second child).

"You're going to tell us right now?" Castro asked Seacrest in disbelief about midway through the show as the host seemingly got into position to dole out the bad news.

As if.

Eons later, it was Mercado who found out she didn't have to wake up from her current dream, having powered through five shaky results shows to join Cook and Archuleta for next week's über-performance show. Each finalist will sing three songs apiece, including a tune selected by one of the judges.

And, according to Seacrest, the top three contestants were within 1 million votes of each other, meaning the playing field has evened out somewhat heading into the home stretch.

In other fan-friendly news, the latest installment of the American Idols Live tour kicks off July 1 in Glendale, Ariz. Tickets go on sale May 17. Oh, and before we forget, because Fox sure doesn't want us to, the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance premieres May 22, the day after Idol signs off for the year.

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