LOS ANGELES – Hollie Cavanagh, the Liverpool-born, Texas-bred “American Idol” hopeful was sent home on May 10 after nearly 70 million people cast their votes on Wednesday night, eliminating her from the competition.
Cavanagh, the dark horse of the talent show, recently had gained some traction with the judges, delivering a series of strong performances during the past couple of weeks.
The 19-year-old even managed to impress mentor Jimmy Iovine with her first song choice on Wednesday night, Journey’s “Faithfully.”
“All the things that concern me about Hollie’s singing–over-singing, over-dramatizing–actually aided her in this song,” explained the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. “This song is a very dramatic song and is very over the top, so this kind of worked for her.”
But Cavanagh stumbled with her second song choice.
“When Hollie came in with Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me,’ I assumed she understood the core of the song–evidently, she did not,” said Iovine. “She did not have the personal experience or the professional experience to take on this song. When the chorus came in, she hit the opera button. At that moment, I felt she crashed and burned and lost out to those other three singers.”
Watching her “American Idol” journey on video playback, Cavanagh looked sad and resigned to see the end of her run on the show. She finally cracked a smile when a clip played of judge Randy Jackson declaring, “Now, that’s the Hollie Cavanagh that we love!”
“Being on the show has given me confidence and I believe so much more in myself,” Cavanagh said during her “Idol” journey video. “It’s perfect, you know?”
As Cavanagh sang her farewell song, Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” friends and former competitors Ledet and Jessica Sanchez were openly crying. Phillip Phillips, meanwhile, remained stoic. Judge Jennifer Lopez’s eyes also welled up with tears.
Lopez first championed the 19-year-old Cavanagh over two years ago when she first auditioned for Season 10 in Austin, Texas.
“I remember that first audition like it was yesterday,” Lopez told Cavanagh. “I was new to ‘Idol’ at that moment too, and I’m watching you and all I saw was this girl with an amazing voice who wasn’t letting it out yet. I was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this, but would you just sing again if you could collect yourself?’ It was a moment for both of us, it was something that I remember very much as well.”
Lopez also had another “moment” on the show last night. She sang her new #1 hit, “Dance Again,” with a phalanx of bare-chested backup dancers–including current squeeze, 24-year-old Casper Smart.
At the end of Lopez’s performance, gold confetti rained upon the stage. As Lopez thanked the audience, Smart helpfully removed some stray confetti from her hair. Slightly surprised by the intimate gesture, Lopez girlishly gushed, “He’s so cute!”
Up next: The Top Three make their much-ballyhooed “Hometown Hero” visit.