As the women continued to shine this week, the outlook was bleak for the men
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

It only takes one bad performance to end someone’s dream on American Idol.

Back in season 5, Kellie Pickler “butchered” (her word, not ours) “Unchained Melody,” and was unceremoniously sent home. In a previous season, frontrunner Constantine Maroulis left the competition after an unpleasant version of Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me.”

It’s not always their fault – Jennifer Hudson was forced to sing a Barry Manilow song on the night she left the show. But the message is clear: no matter how fabulous you have been, you’re only as good as your last performance.

And the guys’ last time on the stage – for the cringe-worthy group performance of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” – was enough to send any one of them home. In a season where the girls are head and shoulders above the men, they couldn’t afford a bad performance – and they had one of the season’s worst on Wednesday’s Motown Night.

But after all the judges’ criticism, it’s still America’s votes that matter. Did the guys survive this week?

Before Ryan Seacrest gave the results, Kree Harrison got a very cool surprise. Aretha Franklin left her a message that she loved Harrison’s version of “Don’t Play That Song,” and made a prediction: “You aren’t going anywhere.” So when Seacrest told Harrison she was safe, it was sort of anticlimactic. The Queen of Soul had already declared it. Seacrest couldn’t have sent Harrison home if he had tried.

In short order, the four remaining women were declared safe, despite Angie Miller’s problematic performance on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, it was an all-guy bottom three of Lazaro Arbos, Devin Velez and Burnell Taylor.

“I’m sitting here nervous and praying,” Mariah Carey said. “I’m very attached to these guys.”

Taylor was the first to be told he was safe, and then Seacrest quickly announced that Velez earned the least amount of votes. (It was unfortunate, because he had shined in his individual performance.)

Vying for the judge’s one save, Velez delivered a strong rendition of “Impossible” by Perry Como. The audience seemed to love him, chanting “Save! Save! Save!” But despite the crowd’s enthusiasm, the judges weren’t unanimous, making him the third consecutive male finalist to leave the competition.

Will any of the guys break into the top five? They’ll have to step up their game next week.