American Idol Top 4 Results Recap: Always Gonna Be an Uphill Battle [Updated]

phillip phillips hollie cavanagh idolBody swapping came a week early to Fox. While next Tuesday’s Glee will find the fictional kids of William McKinley High waking up inside each other’s frames, tonight’s American Idol‘s Top 4 results-show telecast brought a number of surprising fliperoos, too.

VIDEO | Idology: Elise Testone on ‘Vienna,’ ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the Moment J.Lo ‘Crossed the Line’

Joshua Ledet admitted to channeling his inner Phillip Phillips after Ryan Seacrest asked him what language he was speaking during his astonishing Wednesday-night cover of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Hollie Cavanagh got a taste of what it was like to be Jennifer Lopez when she admitted how “awkward” it felt to just mouth the words and not actually sing while filming the weekly Ford Music Video Indentured Servitude Interlude. And Randy Jackson got to play make-believe rock star by walking down a staged “red carpet” at the top of the show that was filled with dozens of young fans who pretended to be excited to see him.

RELATED | American Idol Top 4 Performance Recap: Lost in the Wilderness

Before we get to results, though, a few thoughts on the telecast:

* I can guarantee I’ll still get choked up when Idol is in Season 27 (you know this will happen!) and they play hometown-visit footage featuring Elliott Yamin’s lovely mom.

* That group performance of “California Dreamin'” just reminded me how much Joshua excels when he’s pushed outside his comfort zone. Hopefully Jimmy or one of the judges gives him an out-of-left field choice for Top 3 week. (Randy, if you’re reading this, choose Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”! Oh, who am I kidding? Randy doesn’t read!)

* I’m always excited to hear new David Cook music, but “The Last Song I’ll Write for You” might be the hookiest single he’s released in the history of ever. I’ve given up trying to predict what’ll be a hit in a world that’s sent J.Lo’s “Dance Again” into the Billboard Top 20, but if there’s any justice in the world, this is the track that will put the Season 7 champ back on radio where he belongs.

* Speaking of Jenny from the Block, I’m 78 percent certain she gave the exact same performance back in Season 10, except for this time she changed the “words” to the chorus, wore a surprisingly atrocious midnight-blue sequined bathing suit/black tights combo, and managed to work in an extended dance sequence featuring her new boyfriend, Smart Casper. That aside, though, I appreciated the Enough star’s honesty when — responding to Jimmy Iovine’s complaint that Jessica relies too much on “tricks” like growling — J.Lo self-deprecatingly remarked, “The really good singing trick? I wish I could use that trick!”

* Joshua now has two strikes when it comes to unsettling remarks about J.Lo. First, there was that business of him staring at her abs a couple weeks back, and tonight we had him discussing how it was “really hot” that she critiqued him partly in Spanish on Wednesday. Here’s some Spanish-language feedback for ya, Mr. Ledet: NO ME GUSTA!

* And as for Jimmy Iovine’s “spontaneous” reactions to Wendesday’s performances, I have a few thoughts: I’m not sure how Phillip setting down his guitar for this week’s CCR cover was such a huge step in his journey to artistic self-discovery, but then again, I’m not privy to Season 11 voting tallies, am I? Also: I’m glad to hear Jimmy’s overall post-Idol plan for Joshua leans more toward “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and not so much in the direction of “You Raise Me Up.”

Anyhow, let’s talk results! For those of you who missed it, there was no Bottom 2, only Ryan Seacrest reviewing each contestant’s Wednesday performances — one at a time — then making ’em wait till the last 10 minutes of the show to make the big announcement. So let’s cue dramatic music, have Keiran dim the lights, and discuss who’s headed to next week’s hometown visit:

Sent Back to Safety First
Jessica Sanchez

Sent Back to Safety Second
Joshua Ledet

Sent Back to Safety Third
Phillip Phillips

Hollie Cavanagh

Was Hollie’s ouster a big surprise? Not really. After all, as the Season 11 dark horse, she couldn’t afford the kind of middling showing she delivered on Wednesday. But that didn’t make her emotional exit performance to “The Climb” — way to bring it full circle from that Season 10 audition, girl! — any less stirring. The kid gave it a good run, and she’ll be missed.

What did you think of Top 4 results? Did the right person go home? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Mary says:

    Bye Hollie, gonna miss you. Jessica is my girl though. Like Joshua too. I do enjoy watching Phil, even though he’s not my thing.

    Great seeing David Cook, he’s always so awesome. Love his new song. I don’t get the auto-tune Jlo stuff, but I never could stand music that sounds like it’s from video game or something.

  2. Loni says:

    Hollie, you will be missed! I am SO excited to buy your album some day!

  3. sierrarose says:

    Hey Slezak- I agree it was tacky of Joshua to say he got inspiration from JLo’s “abs” during one of his performances but what is the problem with him saying that he finds her talking Spanish sexy? You seem to be OK with Phillips asking fans “does your daddy let you date?”. I am not sure what the difference here is.

    • deedee says:

      Phillip asked “does your daddy let you date” about JLO! I believe that line came right after JLo flirted with him, calling his performance “sexy”. So, Phil was responding to her. If it’s ok for Phil, then it should be ok for Josh … and in my book, it is.

      • Sandi says:

        I can’t be sure, but I don’t think Slezak is offending by someone flirting with J Lo. I think he was referring to the insincerity of said flirtation. It would be like Adam Lambert (bless his heart!) flirting with Paula. Nope, not too believable.

        • deedee says:

          Well, the thing is, Joshua did not give us a detailed breakdown of his sexual preference, and it is quite galling, imo, to make assumptions about a young, sheltered kid who has just left his religious home and Church upbringing. Adam Lambert was clearly gay, and he made no attempt to hide it (despite not explicitly saying the words “I am gay” during the competition).

          Sorry, this is not a rant against anyone in particular here — it’s just a serious pet peeve of mine when the public makes pronouncements about a person’s sexuality when that person has not made anything known about him/herself in that area. And for a kid like Josh, jeez, how potentially traumatizing to read that sort of thing over and over about yourself. And if … if … he were gay, way to bully him about being closeted! As I said, just a real pet peeve of mine. [/off soap box]

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            I agree. I really wish people would leave that alone. It really doesn’t matter.

          • NedPepper says:

            You say Lambert was clearly gay…and you don’t get the same vibes from Joshua? My mother thought Lambert was straight. And Clay. My mother has no gaydar. She’s always shocked. But I do agree, it doesn’t matter if he is or isn’t. It’s not a big deal. Still, his comments to JLo are…awkward. And not very sincere, I guess. I dunno. Then again, I always forget he’s 19 and may have not really know his sexual orientation. He comes across so much older when he sings, I always think he’s in his mid 20’s. I can’t imagine being 19 and on TV and having to come to grips with my sexuality in front of millions of people.

          • Mary B says:

            I totally agree. Besides its nobodies business. I

          • deedee says:

            NedPepper, it’s not about what vibes I get. Adam had pictures of himself online kissing his boyfriend and dressed in drag. He wasn’t exactly in the closet, and so I felt perfectly fine taking his gayness as a given when discussing him on message boards like this. But that’s not the case with Joshua, and so I refuse to speculate. It’s not my job nor my business. He’s a kid, and my heart breaks for him when I see some of the comments on Idol sites and youtube.

          • J says:

            Well said DeeDee.

  4. Li-Li says:

    Think about it. If Simon were still a judge, there is NO WAY that Hollie and Phillip Phillips would have made it to the top 4. He would have raked them over the coals long ago. Same with Lauren Alaina and Scottie whatever-his-name-is. The judges are useless so has become a total popularity contest, voted on by teeny boppers.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I disagree. Simon was completely bored the last season he was on the show. Hey, don’t count Hollie out under Simon – he would have tried to turn her into the next Taylor Swift.

      Despite some wonky comments I think the judges have been very good this season. They’ve actually given some good criticism as well as appropriate praise. They also gave us a Top 12 that could actually SING. Last year WAS awful. I swore I would quit watching if this year was like last year and they were all but pushing one or two contestants while throwing an outstanding one (Haley Reinhart) under the bus, but I think it’s been much better this season.

      • Mary B says:

        Don’t forget Simon really was pro Lee, another idol who is totally criticized on this blog. So what makes you think he would not see the amazing talent in Phillip.

        • deedee says:

          Simon (correctly) adored Melinda Doolittle and Adam Lambert for their stellar singing. I think Joshua and Jessica would do it for him, too. I think Simon would have liked Phil, but he would have called him out on some of his wonkier performances – unlike the “you’re over the top beautiful” brigade sitting behind the desk.

          • Mary B says:

            I agree with that but he also would have criticized some of the others more. That’s why I like Jimmy so much and wish he was a judge. He is just so much more real than the three joke of judges idol has now.

    • NedPepper says:

      I do think things would be different. Simon could bury someone and America would listen. No one really listens to the new judges. But Simon propelled Lee Dewyze to his eventual win. And Simon was so BORED that season. He didn’t care at all. So a disinterested Simon is not a good thing for Idol. Although I do believe Simon would have BURIED P2 if he were around. I almost feel like I could gaurantee that. He’d be on that Joshua train.

      • Name That Tune says:

        “Ratings for the 11-year-old reality show have been down by double digits this year. Speaking to investors, COO Chase Carey said he isn’t ready to hit the panic button quite yet. He has made similar comments before.

        The show is averaging a 5.4 rating this season, down from 8 a year ago, and may lose its top spot on the list of most-watched prime-time shows on broadcast television to “Saturday Night Live,” according to MediaPost.

        “It was down more than we would’ve liked this year. But it’s a big valuable franchise and makes a lot of money. We certainly think we’ve got a lot of life left in it, and I think our challenge for next year is to put some fresh energy” into it.

        I think one more season of the WGWG winner, and this show is headed for cancellation.

        What Carey meant by “fresh energy” isn’t clear. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were hired to do just that and have failed. News Corp. is probably eager to restructure their contracts. To this casual fan, the show hasn’t been the same since the departure of Simon Cowell and to a lesser extent Paula Abdul. Moreover, the contestants on “The Voice” are far more talented than their counterparts on “American Idol.”

        • Jaxguy says:

          I agree with most of what you said but for the Voice part. I thought the voice was disappointing this season. But every year that the voting rules for this show are in place I think it does damage. The results have been so poor the last 5 or 6 years that I am certain they are eroding their audience a few million each year. Yes age does hurt the shiow but the core viewers keep getting smaller and new viewers are growing far less. I barely watched season 9, and refused to watch the finale of season 10, and based on the final results of this season may stop altogether. When one artist is obvious the front runner like last year and I think this year it is only a matter of time before people stop watching when their favorite is eliminated. As soon as Haley was gone last year so was I. Where are the 70 million votes coming from? They don’t break down the voting anymore, so for all we know the favorite could be getting 40 million of those votes. So what’s the point in watching? So you can watch the judges trample on your favorite like they did Hollie because they wanted a Josh, Jess, Phil final 3? What they did to Haley was almost unforgivable. They trashed her for being original and trashed her for not being original, yet praised the most mundane and bland of Scotty’s performances.
          If they don’t can the judges, and in my opinion Randy too, they are close to putting the final nails in the coffin of this show. Paula was a softie but not an idiot. She played nurturer but gave decent advice. Randy used to have a little sense and Simon, even though he was at times excessively rough, tried to shape the kids.
          I like Steven T, but come on. He sits and thinks up abstract things to say on almost every critique. Jennifer, who is gorgeous and I really like her is a terrible judge. But Randy is the worst because he knows better.
          Heck I would welcome Kara DioGuardi at least she seemed to give constructive advice.

  5. syb says:

    Can’t say this one made me sad. Hollie just never floated my boat. It’s funny though. The performances of hers I liked best are the worst reviewed here, and at judges table/Jimmy’s lair.
    Well on to the march toward the 5th consecutive white male winner, shall we? He’s out classed vocally, but I have to admit, I’m glad someone who doesn’t always hollerate made it this far. I like both Jessica and especially Josh, but that’s going to be fireworks overload.

    • Thom0065 says:

      “Screamfest” is new “not connecting” … The funny thing is that Jessica has shown that she is not a screamer and likes to sing subtly.. yeah she decided to go way OTT this week, but that was what she needed to do to remind people of what she is capable of … but check out Stuttering, You are So Beautiful, Dance with my Father, Sweet dreams … nary a scream, growl, or wail ….

      • Jaxguy says:

        they were all great too. I just listened to all the ones you just mentioned today and had forgotten just how good they were. Beautiful. And her final note on I Will Always Love You was masterful. I had forgotten what she did at the end of that and it was chilling.

  6. Sha says:

    Joshua proved with the James Brown song that he is just in a different league altogether… the others from this season can’t touch him. simply amazing.

  7. paisley says:

    No Me Le Gusta!!!! LOLZ OMG I almost spit out my (expensive) Cabernet — Michael I love your recaps and analysis — our whole family watches IDOL so this is important stuff as I have 2 musician teen sons — superb sublime super-iffic recap and Idology interview with Elise!!! The day you quit doing this is the day I stop watching Idol. For realz.

  8. Sheena says:

    g-mom it doesnt matter whether you will watch AI next year. who cares?

  9. Sheena says:

    hollie is good but not as exceptional as jessica. jessica is already such a pro with her vocal abilities, her pitch is perfect hitting high notes and low notes perfectly. as for hollie, she can still improve, as she hits high notes good too. but she fll flat in her pitch and sometimes unsure of her notes. like when she performed Flashdance, she was flat with her pitch on a verse of the song. never happened to jessica. even was disappointed when skylar went home and hollie stayed. holly should have sent home earlier, not elise or colton or skylar.
    but hollie still has a lot to learn. and jimmy never talks about record producers wanting to sign hollie, unlike the others…especially for jessica who has a lot of musician supportesrs, take note musician and record producers. jennifer holliday even voted for her which he said she never did on AI.

  10. Sheena says:

    yes jc he is. are you a musician?

  11. Sheena says:

    if simon were still a judge, hollie would have been raked long ago, she has pitch blunders on low notes.

  12. P3A says:

    A wonderful exit song, Hollie. it was quite touching and lyrics made perfect sense in the situation. She sang it beutifully and heartfelt. Loved it even more than during her first performance on idol. And it looked like everyone else felt it too, even Phillip Phillips looked he might cry and Josh, Jes and JLo all had tears in their eyes.

  13. adam lambert says:

    joshua into j lo?! he plays for our team, slezak!

  14. Ravendeb says:

    I think it was time for Hollie to go. She has an incredible voice, but needs to work on stage presence. I think Jessica has an amazing voice, but she has no clue as to what type of artist she wants to be. To all the people (including the judges) who think that AI is a singing competition, listen up because it is not. Singing is the biggest part, but you have to own the stage and have a persona. I think Jessica goes home next week and we will see a Joshua and Phillip finale. “It’s a Man’s World”