Stacey, a 29-year-old from Jacksonville, FL, and Richardson, a 22-year-old from Chesapeake, VA, were sent packing after "just over 135 million votes" were cast based on a combination of last Tuesday night's Idol Gives Back performances of inspirational songs and last night's renditions of Bon Jovi songs. Richardson and Stacey were the two finalists who received the least amount of combined votes during the two voting periods.
Stacey was the first of the two to be told he was eliminated after Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed both Lakisha Jones, a 27-year-old from Fort Meade, MD, and Melinda Doolittle, a 29-year-old from Brentwood, TN, had both made Idol's season sixth Top 4.
During last Tuesday night's Idol Gives Back performance episode, Stacey sang "The Change" by Garth Brooks. Idol judge Randy Jackson called it a "strong performance on a very nice vocal on a very great song;" Paula Abdul described it as his "best;" and Simon Cowell thought it was nice to see Stacey "with a spring in [his] step" and "confidence." During last night's performance episode, Stacey sang Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory." Jackson thought it was Stacey's " best performance ever on this show" and Abdul called it "the best opening I think we've had all season long." However Cowell said it was just "okay" and described Stacey as "a bad actor playing a role" before cryptically predicting, " I don't think you've done enough to last next week."
"My entire involvement with American Idol is for my children... absolutely," said Stacey -- whose wife gave birth to the couple's second child while he was auditioning for Idol in Memphis this past summer -- during a video montage of his Idol journey. Instead of Idol 5 finalist Chris Daughtry's "Home" playing during the montage, Idol 4 champ Carrie Underwood's rendition of "I'll Stand By You," a performance she'd recorded for Idol Gives Back, was used.
Seacrest then revealed that Jordin Sparks, a 17-year-old from Glendale, AZ, was joining Jones and Doolittle as a member of Idol 6's Top 4, leaving only one spot for Richardson and Blake Lewis, a 25-year-old from Bothell, WA. Before Seacrest revealed who was going home, Bon Jovi performed on the Idol stage. Seacrest then asked Bon Jovi frontman Jon Bon Jovi, "You want to call it?" -- asking him to predict if Richardson or Lewis were safe. "Not on your life buddy," Bon Jovi responded.
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During last Tuesday night's Idol Gives Back performance episode, Richardson sang "Change the World" by Eric Clapton. Jackson said Richardson seemed "in it to win it;" Abdul said she was "really proud... to see [his] journey from the beginning to where [he is] now;" and Cowell thought it was a "good vocal" and "sexy performance." During last night's performance episode, Richardson sang Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." Jackson was glad Richardson put his own "R&B twists and turns on it" and Abdul said it was a "good job." Meanwhile, Cowell was less committal, saying that Richardson "did as much as [he] could possibly do with that song" but -- similar to what he'd previously done with Stacey -- cryptically remarking that "whether it's good enough to stay another week, I'm not sure."
Lewis and Richardson described themselves as "best friends" as they waited for Seacrest to reveal which was safe. When Seacrest announced that Lewis would be the one joining Sparks, Doolittle and Jones as the Idol's only male Top 4 finalist, Lewis and Richardson embraced. "Thank you everybody for keeping me in this long!" said Richardson.
"This is my path, and this is one I've been wanting to go down for a long time," said Richardson during a video montage of his Idol experience, which was accompanied by Daughtry's "Home." "I think it's just the beginning of what I have to offer."
During the results show broadcast, Seacrest also revealed that Idol received 25,000 entries for its songwriting competition, and has selected the 20 original song submissions that remain in the running to become the Idol finale song that will later be recorded and released by the season's winner. Voting will take place on Idol's americanidol.com website and remain open until Tuesday, May 8.
Next week, American Idol's four remaining sixth season finalists -- Melinda Doolittle, Lakisha Jones, Blake Lewis, and Jordin Sparks -- will all perform live on Tuesday, May 8 beginning at 8PM ET on Fox and be mentored by former Bee Gee Barry Gibb. Then on Wednesday, May 9 at 9PM ET the field of finalists will be narrowed to the season's Top 3.
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