Carly Smithson voted out despite Simon Cowell’s praise

As Ryan Seacrest went to a commercial Wednesday night, the camera showed Jason Castro standing backstage with four other American Idol 7 finalists. They were waiting to learn their fate, and he was yawning. Apparently, he’s as bored with the show as many people are with it–and with him, but incredibly, he was not eliminated. He wasn’t even at risk.

Instead, Carly Smithson, the season’s most prominent ringer (although every remaining contestant is someone who’s had experience in the music industry or on TV), left the competition in what doesn’t quite qualify as a shocking elimination, but was still surprising.

She was joined in the bottom two by Syesha Mercado, even though both were praised for their performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber music Tuesday night. Randy Jackson said, “I am shocked. It must be a bit of a popularity week in the vote, Ryan; those two sang really good last night.” Simon Cowell apologized for praising her performance Tuesday, joking that the public decided to vote against her because he liked her.

Somehow, Brooke’s screw-up didn’t hurt her, as she wasn’t in the bottom two, nor was Jason, whose performance of “Memory” was something everyone wants to forget.