'American Idol' Down to Sweet 16

The cut isn't so sweet for two men and two women as the thriving competition heats up

Forty-two million fans weighed in and four more contestants went home Thursday night on American Idol.

This time out, the top-rated talent competition said goodbye to contestants Brenna Gethers, Heather Cox, David Radford and Jose “Sway” Penala as the field was winnowed to 16.

Thursday marked the second elimination round for this season’s Idol, and it continued with separate performances by the men and the women. The two groups will compete as one when the performers are narrowed to a dozen on March 14.

On last night’s show, Gethers and Cox were the first to get the bad news, but the 25-year-old Gethers took it all in stride telling the audience, “I’m ready to make some cash.”

The other contestants proved a bit more circumspect, with Cox calling herself “thankful to be here” and Penala judging the experience “a fun ride.”

As usual, Simon Cowell blasted some of the performers, including Cox’s performance of “Hero” by Maria Carey. Cowell called Cox’s rendition a “ghastly pageant moment.”

One person spared Cowell’s acid tongue Thursday night was fellow judge Paula Abdul. Despite a very public back-and-forth between the two during the recent week, both appeared civil toward one another.

Thursday night’s show also featured an appearance by last season’s Idol winner Carrie Underwood, who performed her country hit “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

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