Tuesday night, Simon said he was unimpressed.
Covington's departure slimmed the Idol hopefuls to seven. The winner will be named May 24.
Petulant judge Simon Cowell said on Tuesday's program — a tribute to the music of Queen — that the 28-year-old Covington's take on the band's "Fat Bottomed Girls" was "mediocre."
Covington, a good-natured country crooner from Rockingham, N.C., seemed to expect his ouster. Smiling, he told host Ryan Seacrest: "Somebody's got to go."
Ducking viewer elimination were Ace Young and Elliot Yamin, who had the next-lowest vote tallies.
Cowell predicted that Young, 25, would be the one to leave. He called Young's mellow rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You" a "complete, utter mess."
"I really, really, really hated that," said Cowell, who described the Denver native's performance as "We Will Rock You, Gently."
In a surprise, Yamin, 27, landed in the bottom three despite rave reviews from the judges for his soulful performance of Queen's "Somebody to Love."
America "must be confused, because this boy can sing," judge Randy Jackson gushed.
Nearly four years since its debut, "American Idol" continues to be a ratings juggernaut. It has attracted 25 million to 33 million viewers each telecast this season.
"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of FOXNews.com.