Maroulis' long locks and sly grin had helped make him a crowd favorite on the program, but he landed fewer votes than the other five contestants. After host Ryan Seacrest announced the results, boos rained down while judge Paula Abdul (search) looked on in disbelief.
"This seems to happen every single season," Abdul said of the upset, her voice quivering. "I can't even speak, I'm so shocked."
Abdul, who had been Maroulis' biggest supporter, was even shown crying, tears streaming down her face. She had earlier proclaimed him "the one to beat."
A hard rocker from New York, Maroulis was something of a fish out of water on the show, but succeeded nevertheless. Along with fellow finalist Bo Bice, Maroulis had been on a mission to bring rock 'n' roll to "American Idol."
"I'm gonna keep rockin,'" the 29-year-old said. "Crazier things have happened in my life, and I'm just really blessed to have gotten this far."
Though he had previously received mostly high praise, Maroulis' rendition of Nickelback's "You Remind Me" on the Tuesday night performance show wasn't deemed memorable by the judges.
Randy Jackson said it was "high on performance, but low on vocals." The sardonic Simon Cowell thought the choice of tune was wrong after Maroulis' more standard, pop selections.
"It's like 'Star Wars.' Welcome to the dark side — or the light side," Cowell said.
Alongside Maroulis — who Seacrest said had received over 35 million votes over the course of the season — stood Anthony Federov, who received the second fewest votes. His version of Celine Dion's "Surrender" drew mixed reviews.
"I personally hated it," Cowell said, but added Federov's fans would feel otherwise.
Surprisingly, Scott Savol was not even in the bottom three. Savol appeared to be the most likely castoff given his frequently tepid support and a performance of Luther Vandross' "Dance with My Father," after which Cowell advised Savol to pack his bags.
Maroulis' exit came less than a week after Koch Records announced that the label would release his old band's pre-'Idol' album. Earlier in the season, Maroulis was shown informing his disgruntled bandmates of his "Idol" intentions.
No mention was made Wednesday of a swirling controversy surrounding "American Idol." ABC plans to air next week a report on "Primetime Live" regarding "explosive claims" about the show.
The remaining contestants are Bice, Federov, Savol, Vonzell Solomon and Carrie Underwood.
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