Karen Rodriguez Eliminated From ‘American Idol’

Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart join her in the bottom three, while Black Eyed Peas and Lee DeWyze perform.

“Love Will Lead You Back” paved a path straight to elimination for Karen Rodriguez, who was shown the door on Thursday’s (March 17) elimination episode of “American Idol.”

The 21-year-old bilingual-singing New Yorker, who was praised by Steven Tyler for her “ethnic what-it-is-ness” on Wednesday’s performance episode , pleaded her case before the judges when asking them to use the season’s one save to spare her another week. “I know I can do so much better, and I know you guys believe in me,” she said, fighting back tears, after a Hail Mary rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” But it wasn’t enough: While Randy Jackson said the decision was not unanimous, the judges decided not to let Rodriguez sing another day in the competition.

It was Rodriguez’s second straight trip to the bottom three, real estate she shared this week with Naima Adedapo and Haley Reinhart. Adedapo was the first to be shown mercy by host Ryan Seacrest, leaving Reinhart and Rodriguez behind to face the music. Ultimately it was Rodriguez — who performed Taylor Dayne’s 1990 hit “Love Will Lead You Back” on Wednesday’s show, while wearing a sci-fi silver miniskirt and a Snooki-like pouf atop her head — that came up on the short end of America’s votes. During the teary goodbye, Rodriguez was consoled by the three judges, as well as her fellow contestants.

When they were sent to the bottom three earlier in the show, neither Reinhart nor Adedapo seemed very surprised with their fates. Reinhart, who in a winding speech explained that she ultimately sees herself combining “rock and funk and blues” into one style (note: she sang Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight” this week), gave a sighing “yippee!” when Seacrest told her she might be in the bottom three. Later, she mock dusted off her chair before sitting down in the same seat she held the week prior. Adedapo, who mouthed “wonder who?” when she was told it was either her or theweek-winning Stefano Langone in the bottom three, practically marched to her seat before Seacrest even read the results. Call it the curse of the ladies: So far this season, a male has yet to land in the bottom of the bunch.

Thia Megia thought she was going to see the wrath of the bottom three and explained to the judges that she’s got more in her than she’s shown thus far. “If you guys put me through, I’ll do so much better,” she said. “I can show so much more.” She survived another week, but she should be held to her promise to step things up a notch beyond the bland balladry she’s shown to date.

Everyone else was safe to sit back and watch the show, which squeezed in performances by the Black Eyed Peas (who dedicated their new single “Just Can’t Get Enough” to “our friends in Japan”) and “American Idol” season-nine winner Lee DeWyze, who performed the sleepy, John Mayer-like ballad “Beautiful Like You” from his album Live It Up.

The show opened with a medley of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” (sang by the guys) and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” (the girls), a cheeky homage to the week’s songs-from-your-birth-year theme.

Were you surprised to see Karen go? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t miss “Idol Party Live” every Thursday on MTV.com, following the “American Idol” results show, for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.