Is "American Idol" for real?
In a surprise, Stephanie Edwards -- one of this season's best singers -- was voted off the top-rated talent contest on Wednesday, while weak and sometimes unwatchable performers Sanjaya Malakar and Haley Scarnato were allowed to stay.
The untimely departure of Edwards, 19, of Savannah, Georgia, narrowed the number of "Idol" contestants to 10. The winner will be chosen in May.
Simon Cowell said on Tuesday's show that Edwards' rendition of Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" lacked the edginess and youthful energy that she brought to her previous performances.
Paula Abdul echoed that sentiment, telling Edwards she should have "more fun" onstage.
Dodging viewer elimination was Chris Richardson, who had the next-lowest vote tally.
Richardson, 22, of Chesapeake, Virginia, had impressed judges with his smooth take on "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying." Cowell called it his "best performance so far," while Abdul praised him as "charming and sexy."
Wednesday's show also featured performances by this week's guest coaches: Peter Noone, who fronted the 1960s British rock band Herman's Hermits, and singer-songwriter Lulu.
In its sixth season, "American Idol" continues to dominate the ratings. It has attracted 26 million to 37 million viewers per telecast this season.