Gary Susman
April 10, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Proof that kissing up to the guest celebrity judges won’t save you came on Wednesday night’s ”American Idol” with the announcement that viewers had voted Rickey Smith out of the competition. Despite a performance Tuesday of ”Endless Love” that not only flattered its original singer, guest judge Lionel Richie, but also earned the unanimous approval of Randy, Paula, and Simon, viewers sent the Texan home. Host Ryan Seacrest whisked him off the air without even giving him time for the traditional goodbye oration; a hastily compiled video montage had to suffice for Rickey’s farewell.

Some 21 million voters phoned in this week, and their votes were added to the 15 million from last week’s ouster-free session. Kimberley Locke and Kimberly Caldwell were the other two finishers in the bottom three. The episode featured a visit from last year’s winner, a tarted-up Kelly Clarkson, who, accompanied by a bevy of similarly slinky dancers, sang her new single, ”Miss Independent.”

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