Tens of thousands auditioned, and now only five remain.
With one of the American Idol Top 6 sent home on Thursday, the finalists are now less than a month away from the finale, where one of them will be crowned the next American Idol.
Coming off a night of “a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll” on Wednesday that Donnie and Marie Osmond would have been proud of, the Top 6 eagerly waited to hear their fate from host Ryan Seacrest Thursday evening.
Wasting no time on the results show – which now lasts a brisk 30 minutes – Seacrest revealed that C.J. Harris and Jessica Meuse had received the lowest number of votes from fans and were in danger of being sent home.
But it was C.J., the raspy country boy from Alabama, who was ultimately sent packing as judge Jennifer Lopez teared up after his name was announced, and as his fellow finalists gave him a standing ovation.
“It’s so sad to see him go,” Lopez told PEOPLE following the announcement. “In a lot of ways, he was the heart of the competition.”