You gotta give this to Chapel Hill’s Anoop Desai, who made it into American Idol‘s Top 36: He is a really sweet guy, even if, after tonight, he’s not a part of the show’s Top 12. After his first live performance drew less-than-stellar reviews from the judges Tuesday night, even the usually sharp-tongued Simon Cowell noted the UNC grad student’s good nature, assuring Desai that he’s got a very high “likeability” factor. Unfortunately for Desai and his disappointed supporters back home, that wasn’t enough to draw the votes he needed to secure a place in the Top 12 contestants for Season 8 in Wednesday night’s results show.

But as he and fellow contestant Michael Sarver waited to hear which one of them was going to the next round, Desai threw his arm amicably around the not-unsubstantial shoulders of Sarver, a Texas oil-rig roughneck. He confessed to host Ryan Seacrest that he was “more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life.”

When the bad news came, Desai took it a lot better than some other losing contestants (Tatiana Del Toro, Season 8’s drama queen extraordinaire, burst into hysterical tears when it was her turn to go). Rather, he maintained his composure throughout the rest of the episode.

The remaining six slots will be filled over the next two weeks; after that, Desai may get one more chance, as the judges seat the last three finalists with wild cards at their discretion. If Desai goes on, it will be another notch in North Carolina’s Idol belt; beginning with runner-up (and Raleigh resident) Clay Aiken in Season 2, Tar Heels have done very well on the hit show, including Greensboro’s Chris Daughtry and Rockingham’s Bucky Covington.