“American Idol” contestant Paul McDonald drew a lot of sappy praise from judges for his screechy rendition of “Old Time Rock and Role,” but viewers did the dirty work and axed the singer in last night’s elimination round.

In what’s becoming a familiar pattern, judges, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler have lapsed into cheerleaders.

Voters are making the tough choices, sometimes shocking the judges, but so far the eliminations have been well within reason.

Although the elimination of Pia Toscano last week set off howls of protest — MTV said all sense of logic was officially thrown out the window –she doomed herself by singing bland ballads.

And frankly, she was just a little too polished, more like a bad lounge singer than a rock idol, which suggests young twenty-something viewers are calling the shots.

McDonald, likewise, probably failed to connect with that fan base. His look and sound skewed considerably older, making him the first male contestant to be eliminated from the show.

Earlier, bearded bass player Casey Abrams was dumped, but brought back after judges exercised their one and only reprieve. They may regret that now.

This far into the show, it’s clear a pattern is emerging. The contestants who can best connect with a younger audience fare the best chance of surviving until the final rounds.

The judges also share part of the blame for the course of the current season. Their comments have been so overwhelmingly supportive they are doing the contestants an injustice.

Instead of providing critical feedback that could help them improve their performances and shape their choice music, the three judges praise everyone.

McDonald is a case in point. He butchered Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” during movie-themed week, yet drew effusive praise from the judges.

Bloggers, however, were accurately predicting his exit before the show aired.

The voting left Stefano Langone, 21, among the bottom three for the second week in a row.

Joining him was Haley Reinhart, who was branded the weakest performer by the judges, after her painful rendition of Blondie’s “Call Me.”

Four women have so far been voted off this year by fans of the show. Only Lauren Alaina is holding her own at this point for a shot at the “American Idol” title.

The remaining finalists include James Durbin, Scotty McCreery, Jacob Lusk, Langone,.

The “American Idol” finale airs on the Fox network in May when viewers will choose the next “Idol” star, and he or she lands a recording contract.

“C’mon, man, let’s not get sad about this,” he said after his dismissal.

He was right on that point. He deserved to go.