''Saying goodbye is never an easy thing...'' sang Carmen Rasmusen on Tuesday night's episode of ''American Idol,'' before getting to prove it on Wednesday. With a record 21.5 million votes cast, home viewers chose to send the 18-year-old with the vibrato-inflected voice back home to Bountiful, Utah.
Trenyce and Joshua Gracin rounded out the bottom three this week, a group that, according to judge Simon Cowell, included no one who could win this contest. Viewers apparently agreed, keeping safe the vocal standouts among the five remaining finalists: Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Kimberley Locke. ''It's such a big stepping stone. It's been awesome,'' said Carmen as she departed.