After deferring a decision the previous Wednesday,

American Idol

dismissed two singers,

Phil Stacey


Chris Richardson

, last night.

The viewer vote tally from last week was added to this week's, with more than 135 million phone and text-message ballots cast in all.

The shaven-headed Stacey, 29, of Jacksonville, Fla., had been growing in confidence in recent weeks. It would seem he simply ran up against finalists with more popularity.

Idol judge Randy Jackson said on Tuesday's program that Stacey's take on Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" was his "best performance ever."

Richardson, 22, of Chesapeake, Va., had been an early favorite, often compared to Justin Timberlake. But Idol's obstacle course of styles made his vocal limitations clear.

"Thank you to everybody for keeping me in this long," Richardson said.

Last night's results leave beatboxing Blake Lewis (Bothell, Wash.) as the sole male contestant remaining, facing off against LaKisha Jones (Fort Meade, Md.), Melinda Doolittle (Brentwood, Tenn.), and Jordin Sparks (Glendale, Ariz.).

The winner will be chosen May 23.