In a real shocker for fans of "American Idol," Top 12 finalist Mario Vazquez has bowed out of the show:
Mario Vazquez, the Latino heartthrob who won fans with his smooth renditions of Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do" and the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," "has withdrawn from the competition for personal reasons," Fox announced Sunday afternoon. A Fox spokesman refused further comment.
With Vazquez out, producers decided to reinstate Nikko Smith, who was cut from the competition last week after failing to garner enough fan votes to make it into the top 12. Fox and the show's producers wasted no time erasing Vazquez from the show's Web site: By 1 p.m. PST Sunday, Smith had already replaced Vazquez.
While contestants have been asked to leave the show before when less-than-savory details about their pasts have come to light, this is the first time that a singer, particularly one so far along in the competition, has left of their own volition.
It's a good bet that theories as to the reason for Mario's departure will start first thing next week, not the least of which will be speculation that his leaving the show had something to do with the rumors that have been circulating that he's a closeted homosexual. Whatever the reason, Mario was a fan favorite, and, while his chances of winning this year's competition were decidedly slim, it's a shame the audiences won't get to enjoy his vocal stylings in the finals.
On a more positive note, Nikko Smith's return to "AI" will be most welcome. His last performance on the show, a great rendition of Ray Charles’ "Georgia On My Mind," was a real show-stopper, and Nikko can only continue to improve as the show goes on.