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This time, it really is over for Matt

It was a night destined to end in heartbreak for “American Idol” fans. At the opening of Wednesday’s elimination show, judge Simon Cowell looked back at Tuesday’s performances of Rat Pack jazz standards and said, “Everybody was good.”

Indeed, the performances from the Great American Songbook led many “Idol” watchers to call this group the strongest Top 5 ever.

It being elimination night, though, somebody had to go, however unjustly.

And Michigan piano player Matt Giraud drew the short straw.

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Giraud -- one of the heartthrob contestants, whose good nature and breezy style caused him to be compared with Justin Timberlake -- had one of the season’s rockier rides.

Initially eliminated in the semifinals, he was brought back by the judges in the wild-card round.

Giraud’s “Idol” days were resurrected by the judges again two weeks ago, when in perhaps the most dramatic moment of the eighth season, they chose to use their one save on him, a decision judge Kara DioGuardi on Wednesday called “one of the best things we’ve done.”

A jazz student, Giraud had said Tuesday that he’d been waiting for standards week.

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But those have been famous last words on “American Idol,” which has a long history of contestants being eliminated after performing the theme closest to their hearts.

Giraud was eliminated in a contest that saw 47 million votes cast, a season high.

The night’s great surprise came when host Ryan Seacrest revealed that the judges’ huge favorite, Adam Lambert, was in the bottom two with Giraud. Tension mounted as the night’s decisive announcement loomed, but in the end Lambert hugged farewell to Giraud.

Next week, “Idol” takes a sharp turn to the left with rock ‘n’ roll week, mentored by Guns N’ Roses star Slash.

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richard.rushfield@latimes.com


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