MATT SAYLES / AP Enlarge
NEW YORK Diamond wasn't Brooke White's best friend on "American Idol" Wednesday night.
The tearful 24-year-old folkster from Mesa, Ariz., was eliminated as the Fox show trimmed the competition to the top four finalists.
On Tuesday's show, aka Neil Diamond Night, White sang two songs by Diamond: "I'm a Believer" and "I Am ... I Said."
Simon Cowell called White's first performance "a nightmare," then heaped praise on her after her second act.
"This is the Brooke we like. Sitting behind the piano, singing a very good song," the snarky judge said. "It wasn't incredible, but it was a million times better than the first song. Well done."
White, who claimed never to have seen an R-rated movie, wiped away tears before her final performance. The former nanny told fans: "I just wanna say 'thank you.'"
The remaining "Idol" candidates David Archuleta, David Cook, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado (Wednesday night's other low vote-getter) surrounded White on stage.
Cook, offering moral support, patted her on the back.
Earlier in the live telecast, Ryan Seacrest defended Paula Abdul against Internet chatter about her flub the night before: "Just for the record: The rumors they're not true. She's part of our family, and we love her."
The host didn't explain what those "rumors" were, but said he'd been reading gossip online about Abdul. The "Idol" judge goofed on Tuesday night's performance show when she gave Castro feedback for two songs even though he'd only sung one.
"American Idol" had switched up the format by making judges take notes and hold their appraisals until every contestant had performed. Abdul said later that she was thrown for a loop when producers apprised the judges of the change at the last minute.
Wednesday's show also featured performances by guest mentor Diamond and Natasha Bedingfield.