And then there were 12. First, though, four more "American Idol" semifinalists had to go in what was an emotional, perhaps surprising, results show. Here are some parting words from the four who were so close they could taste it.
After mostly sailing through the competition, the Duluth, Georgia, native attempted Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" on Tuesday and received disastrous reviews from the judges.
MTV: Did you struggle with that song while rehearsing it?
Sky: I did in rehearsal once, too. It was a struggle to choose a song, but I picked that one to bring a younger energy. This whole thing has been mind over matter, and last night I was relaxed and I did a better performance. I just think you have to trust your choices.
MTV: The judges were really hard on you. Do you think they have a strong influence on the voters?
Sky: I do think America trusts [the judges'] professional opinions, but I don't think it's the only thing. American can make their own opinions.
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MTV: Are you looking forward to going back and eating some chitlins?
Sky: Oh yes, I cannot wait.
Even though his "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" was arguably his best performance throughout the semifinals,the 17-year-old from the Woodlands, Texas, failed to build a big enough fanbase to carry him through.
MTV: Any theories on your departure?
Makar: I think my performance didn't really connect, and that might've been the problem. But vocally I really felt it, and I'm proud of myself with how far I made it. It's a big accomplishment for me.
MTV: How do you connect on this show?
Makar: In my eyes, connection [comes from] really feeling the song. What does it mean to you? I really didn't show that. It was upbeat and I was trying to have fun, and I did have fun, but I just didn't feel the connection and I should have.
MTV: Rumor has it you do a mean Chewbacca. Ever consider pulling that out of your arsenal during the show?
Makar: [He growls.] Ahhhrrr! Maybe I have a future in "Star Wars."
Praised for her hard work and determination, the 17-year-old daughter of a Wrentham, Massachusetts, congressman was a shoo-in for the finals until her rendition of "Unwritten" rubbed the judges the wrong way.
MTV: You were obviously very shocked last night.
Brown: I was. It wasn't mostly shock. It was more of a disappointment in myself. I had this feeling going into the day, a nervous feeling in my stomach that something bad was going to happen. And when [Ryan Seacrest] told me [I was eliminated], it was just feeling like I was failing and that was the hardest part to me. Feeling like the silver shiny seat was so close, yet so far. Looking back at it now, instead of being discouraged and disappointed, I am incredibly proud.
MTV: Do you think that maybe voters felt like you already have so much going for you that you didn't need this?
Brown: My father, being an athlete himself, told me at a very young age, "If you break your leg, what are you going to fall back on?" And that really motivated me. I have to admit it was really hard to overcome the all-American stereotype they placed on me from the beginning. I didn't think people got the chance to see who I was and my personality. I was hard to overcome that, but I gave it my all and I'm just disappointed America didn't vote for me.
People thought that I had everything and didn't know I worked hard for it. People thought I was being fed with a silver spoon, and when the judges acknowledged it, people thought about it a little more. I think because I wasn't labeled one of the judges' favorites from the beginning, they were always looking for a reason not to like me. It was definitely interesting hearing how they swayed from week to week.
MTV: You said on the show you were always a tomboy. Do you feel like you became more girly on the show?
Brown: Absolutely. I've never bought more heels before. I wouldn't say I was a tomboy, like trying to beat up boys, even though sometimes I tried. I've taken away more of a sense of femininity from the show. Just caring what you look like. You don't always have to walk around in sweat pants. You can care about what your hair looks like and your makeup.
Also 17 (must be an unlucky number) and determined, the singer from Memphis, Tennessee, impressed the judges with his unique song choices and smooth voice, but he still was unexpectedly eliminated.
MTV: Any theories on your elimination?
McKinney: I don't know why, but if it was God's will, I have to move on and just keep going. I have the same amount of integrity. I have to stay focused, determined and disciplined. Over 100,000 people audition and I was in the top 16, so I have nothing to worry about it. They were expecting me to drop my smile and cry, but you should be happy.
MTV: You told Ryan Seacrest you were surprised. Who did you think were going home and what made you think you were safe?
McKinney: My song choices and the way I sang my song made me think I would go through. You think about people who might go home, but you never think about yourself. I can't say who I thought about, but you should expect the unexpected and I didn't last night.
MTV: What's the secret behind the glowing white smile?
McKinney: It's my trademark. It's been with me since I came out of my mother's womb. That's the thing that attracts people from miles away, from Memphis to Los Angeles, they know Gedeon. I brush my teeth two to three times a day, depending on what I eat.