LOS ANGELES – Week after week, Hollie Cavanagh has never quite earned the favor of the judges on “American Idol.”
But on Wednesday night’s live show–in which the “Idols” performed hits of the ‘60s during the first hour, and British pop during the second– Cavanagh finally found her footing. The Liverpudlian-Texan opened the show with a rousing performance Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.”
"It was a different type of Hollie out there tonight. I could feel you!" declared judge Jennifer Lopez.
Cavanagh went from strength to strength, belting out a strong version of Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love."
“That was unbelievable,” said judge Randy Jackson. “You're peaking now at the right time."
Joshua Ledet also had a stellar night–save for an awkward duet singing “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'” with Phillip Phillips. The Louisiana native earned a standing ovation from the judges for his rendition of the Bee Gees’ 1967 hit, “To Love Somebody.”
"I've been doing this 11 years, and you're one of the best singers ever on this show–ever!” raved Jackson.
"I'm gonna go further than the show," declared a 42-year old Lopez. "I think you're one of the best singers I've seen in 50 years!"
For his ‘60s melody, Ledet belted out The Temptations’ “Ain't Too Proud to Beg,” which knocked out judge Steven Tyler.
"You've gotta be one of the top two best 'Idols' of all time," praised the Aerosmith frontman.
Meanwhile, Jessica Sanchez showed confidence and swagger beyond her sixteen years, singing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” in a pair of sequined 6” platform heels.
"You're so grown-up there, it's crazy!" said Lopez. "You were a little bit of Tina, a little Beyonce."
When it came time for Sanchez to perform Joe Cocker’s 1974 hit, “You Are So Beautiful,” her feet must have given out, because she sang the entire song laying on the stage, barefoot.
Skylar Laine, the gun-toting Southern belle, sang Creedence Clearwater Revival’s anti-war anthem, “Fortunate Son,” with plenty of bravado and without a trace of irony.
"It's like you attack every single song," noted Lopez, adding that she thought that the Mississippian had “amazing” energy.
Laine followed up with Dusty Springfield’s 1966 hit, “You Don't Have to Say You Love Me,” accompanied by a live couple, sitting on a darkened park bench–which the judges spent more time critiquing than Laine’s performance.
Phillips–perhaps to signal to Lopez that he is unavailable–acknowledged his hometown girlfriend after he sang the Box Tops’ 1967 hit, “The Letter.”
“Even better news,” quipped host Ryan Seacrest, noting his own relationship at home, “He’s into brunettes.”
Later, Phillips earned a pass from the judges, despite delivering a series of painful falsettos during his rendition of the Zombies 1968 hit, “Time of the Season.”
"Yo! He really can sing the melody," observed Jackson.
So was Phillips melodic or off-pitch? Either way, the judges' opinion is moot. Luckily for Phillips, he is very handsome...
Next up: Carrie Underwood and Coldplay perform and someone WILL be eliminated.