NEW YORK – The "American Idol" (search) fill-in for dropout Mario Vazquez (search) survived the show's elimination night Wednesday, but his return may not be for long.
Nikko Smith (search) endured the Fox show's dwindling from 12 contestants to 11 by securing enough votes from TV viewers to continue another week. Son of baseball great Ozzie Smith, he had been cut from the competition but returned after Vazquez withdrew, citing personal reasons.
Smith's rendition of "I Want You Back" on Tuesday night, though, was deemed "horrible" by judge Simon Cowell.
Voters booted Lindsay Cardinale, a 20-year-old university student from Ponchatoula, La. Her performance of "Knock on Wood" brought her little luck, and prompted Cowell to say, "I think 30 million TV sets in America had their volume turned down simultaneously."
In its fourth season, "Idol" has drawn enough viewers to rank as the No. 1 show. On the Wednesday night episode, host Ryan Seacrest said that nearly 30 million people had voted this week — the most of any round besides the finals.
Narrowly escaping elimination were Mikalah Gordon and Jessica Sierra, who both yielded fewer votes than anyone besides Cardinale.
The show began with all 12 of the contestants singing "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." It is the first of three such performances, the best of which will be sold as a single with benefits going to the American Red Cross.
Previously this season, men and women had competed separately, but cross-gender competition began Tuesday. One more of the remaining 11 will be voted off next week. The finale is scheduled for May 24-25.