'American Idol' Surprise: Colton Dixon Voted Out

In a surprising turn of events, Colton Dixon, the skinny-legged rocker with the multi-colored Mohawk, was voted out of American Idol Thursday night.  Prior to Thursday night, he had never even been in the bottom three during the competition. Fifty-three million votes were cast Wednesday night - the most of the entire season so far.

Colton - who was on his second try at "Idol" stardom, having auditioned last year as well - had been generally praised by the judges and by Jimmy Iovine throughout the competition.  But on Wednesday night, his takes on Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" didn't thrill Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, and Jimmy Iovine expressed concern as well.  Still, few thought he would go home, since he was joined in the bottom three by Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone, both of whom had been there before.

Initially, Ryan Seacrest sent Joshua Ledet, who'd been in the bottom three last week, to safety, while Hollie got another trip to the silver stools of doom. Then, he sent Skylar Laine to safety, while Elise once again landed in the bottom three.  When Ryan asked Elise if she felt the judges were harder on her than the other contestants, she said, "Yeah, definitely," and mused that perhaps it was because they felt she could "take it" because she's older.  Still, she says she found it "disheartening" to feel "discredited" because she'd worked so hard.

Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Colton were up next: Jessica, who was saved by the judges last week, was sent to safety, leaving Phillip and Colton, neither of whom had ever been in the bottom three before.  Phillip was sent to safety while Colton joined Hollie and Elise.  Then, Ryan surprisingly sent Elise to safety, leaving Hollie and Colton.  When Colton's name was called, Phillip looked completely shocked.

When Ryan asked Colton what he felt had happened, he replied, "I need to apologize. I wasn't myself last night." Addressing the judges, he said, "I appreciate what you told me last night, and I'll take that - when I'm making a record."  As the audience cheered, the judges assured Colton he'd have a "huge career" ahead of him.  For his final song, Colton, who's been very open about his Christian faith, sank to his knees and performed Lifehouse's "Everything," pointedly changing the lyrics to, "He's all I need/God, you're everything."

Also on Thursday night, season eight American Idol champ Kris Allen dropped by to perform his new single "The Vision of Love." Season five winner Taylor Hicks was in the audience; he announced that he'd be playing a residency in Las Vegas this summer.  In addition, LMFAO performed their hit "Sorry For Party Rockin'," complete with backup dancers and signature inflatable zebras.  They were bleeped several times during the performance.

"American Idol" returns next Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.

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