By Chris Michaud
NEW YORK (Reuters) - R&B soul week spelled the downfall of Didi Benami on Wednesday, after "American Idol" fans and judges found no comfort in her rendition of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" and voted her off the hit singing contest.
Benami smiled with apparent resignation after the judges declined to use their once-per-season save on her, which would keep a contestant voted out by fans in the running on the television singing contest for at least another week.
On Tuesday's competition show, the judges called her singing old-fashioned and off key, with Kara DioGuardi going so far as to say "It's over, done girl." And so it was.
The remaining eight finalists surrounded Benami in an onstage, sendoff group hug as the live show concluded.
Still in the running is Tim Urban, who finished in the bottom three for a third week and once again defied the judges who consistently have found his performances lacking.
That was the case again this week after Urban sang, then laughed his way through the judges' collective yawns over, his rendition of Anita Baker's ballad, "Sweet Love."
"I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever what we say," said a seemingly frustrated Cowell on Tuesday.
"You're not going to win. But it doesn't matter because you're going to smile, the audience is going to vote for you, nobody cares and you'll be here next week, so well done," Cowell shrugged to the singer who some have dubbed "Teflon Tim."
Wednesday's show, which was mentored by Usher and included his performance of "OMG," also featured an unusually testy exchange between Cowell and host Ryan Seacrest over Katie Stevens' second consecutive bottom-three placement.
"You don't gloat when someone is in the bottom three," Seacrest said, leaning in to the judges' table, to which Cowell replied:
"Ryan, you are really getting on my nerves tonight." He went on to explain he was not gloating but trying to make a point about song choices and style for the struggling singers.
Musical highlights included Sean "Diddy" Combs with Dirty Money singing "Hello Good Morning," and season No. 2 winner Ruben Studdard, returning to the "Idol" stage with "Don't Make 'Em Like U No More."
The remaining nine contestants will return next week for performances culled from the Lennon-McCartney songbook.
The show's finale airs in May when viewers will choose the next "Idol" star, and he or she lands a recording contract, not to mention bragging rights and invaluable media exposure.
Past winners have included Grammy-winning artists including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, while other contestants such as Clay Aiken, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and last season's runner-up Adam Lambert have become breakout stars in their own right.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)