'American Idol' Selects First 3 Finalists

By: AP
By: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Tatiana Del Toro had something else to cry about. The emotional 28-year-old crooner from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was one of nine "American Idol" semifinalists sent packing Wednesday. Del Toro, whom judge Simon Cowell called a "drama queen" after her performance Tuesday, bawled after she wasn't selected to continue in the "Fox" singing competition.

"It's up to America," she told host Ryan Seacrest before the results. "It's up to the power of love."

No tears were shed by the first three finalists of season eight: Alexis Grace, the soulful 21-year-old single mother from Memphis, Tenn.; Michael Sarver, the beefy 27-year-old oil rig worker from Jasper, Texas; and Danny Gokey, the spikey-haired 28-year-old church music director from Milwaukee. The trio received the most viewer votes.

Recent widower Gokey overwhelmed the judges with Mariah Carey's "Hero" at the conclusion of Tuesday's ho-hum performance episode. They were also impressed with Grace's take on Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man," comparing her to first "Idol" Kelly Clarkson. Sarver, who sang Gavin Degraw's "I Don't Wanna Be," received a mixed reaction from the panel.

"I think if you get through, it's because people like you," Cowell told Sarver on Tuesday.

Next week, 12 more semifinalists will vie for three spots in the competition's top 12, but Del Toro and the other dismissed semifinalists, such as Anoop Desai and Ricky Braddy, may have another chance. After the first nine finalists are selected by viewer votes, the judges will pick the last three finalists following a wild card round March 5.

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