In a surprise, Melinda Doolittle, a professional backup singer and widely regarded as the performer to beat during the current American Idol competition, was eliminated Tuesday, leaving Jordin Sparks, 17, and Blake Lewis, 25, as the two finalists. After hearing the voting results, judge Simon Cowell remarked, "My commiserations, Melinda, because you are one heck of a singer." However, several American Idol finalists have succeeded in rising to prominence as recording stars even after being eliminated in the competition, among them Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, and Jennifer Hudson. Wednesday night's show produced a 16.2 rating and a 25 share for Fox.