Erika Van Pelt Sent Home On 'American Idol'

DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han join Van Pelt in bottom three.

Erika Van Pelt debuted a dramatic new look on Wednesday's episode of "American Idol," but it wasn't enough to save her in the competition as the 26-year-old Rhode Islander was sent packing on Thursday's (March 22) "Idol."

Van Pelt made it into the finals as a wild-card choice and consistently found herself facing elimination. This week she chopped off her blond locks and revealed a sleek, short black 'do and received strong marks for her version of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." But it wasn't enough for viewers, apparently, as she landed at the bottom of America's votes. She sang "I Believe in You and Me" for the judges to try to get them to use their save on her, but they let her go with a swift "no," delivered by Randy Jackson. (As if the pain of elimination isn't tough enough, Van Pelt now has to go back and explain to her New England friends what she was doing singing "New York State of Mind." Good luck with that one.)

Van Pelt found herself in the bottom three alongside DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han. Brackensick was released to safety first and was followed by Han.

Han was on the receiving end of some stinging criticism from mentor Jimmy Iovine following his goofball performance Wednesday night of Billy Joel's "My Life." "He came out and disrespected the entire process. His performance was more like four minutes of a bad Adam Sandler movie that goes straight to DVD," Iovine said of Han's campy take on the song, calling it a "stunt gone wrong." "At the end of the day, Interscope has to spend a lot of money on somebody who wins this show, and that's not it."

Han defended himself by saying, "I'm not trying to be a star; I'm just really happy where I am."

Elsewhere on the show, in a surprise birthday tribute to Steven Tyler, his Aerosmith cohort Joe Perry came out and played "Happy Birthday" for him, backed by the Idols. Tyler turns 64 on Monday.

Also, controversy magnet Lana Del Rey performed her hit single "Video Games," complete with a closing confetti shower, and season 10 third-place finisher Haley Reinhart returned to the "Idol" stage to perform her new single "Free."

What did you think about "Idol" on Thursday? Was it time for Van Pelt to go? Let us know in the comments!

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