1. Joshua Ledet - "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" and "To Love Somebody"
The judges got it right in the wake of Joshua Ledet's show closing performance of the Bee Gees classic "To Love Somebody." He really is one of the most talented contestants ever on American Idol. He claimed to have never heard "To Love Somebody" before, and he absolutely nailed the pop classic. His Motown performance of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" was classy, entertaining, and restrained when necessary. At this point Joshua Ledet seems an obvious choice for the finale.
2. Skylar Laine - "Fortunate Son" and "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me"
Skylar Laine is peaking at the perfect time in the competition. She has also found her niche, and it's not limited to country music. The songs that seem to suit her best are emotional songs that express a bit of anger at the protagonist's life circumstances. This week Skylar Laine growled admirably through Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" and then she broke our hearts, just like Dusty Springfield, on "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me." However, she never sings like she is wallowing in the broken heart. She is a fighter who is standing strong which makes watching Skylar Laine exhilarating.
3. Hollie Cavanagh - "River Deep - Mountain High" and "Bleeding Love"
The biggest surprise of the week was Hollie Cavanagh finally hitting her stride. However, it could be a very ironic situation if she is indeed eliminated. The classic "River Deep - Mountain High" has a star-crossed history from nearly ruining the careers of Ike and Tina Turner as well as the producer Phil Spector when the original recording was a commercial flop to Pia Toscano's surprise elimination after performing it last year on American Idol. Hollie Cavanagh's performance of "Bleeding Love" seemed somewhat standard until a run nearly the end that caused jaws to drop. This was easily Hollie Cavanagh's best week in the competition.
4. Jessica Sanchez - "Proud Mary" and "You Are So Beautiful"
Guest mentor Steven Van Zandt aimed initially to talk Jessica Sanchez out of performing the Ike and Tina Turner classic "Proud Mary." I wish that he would have succeeded. Faced with the memories of Tina Turner, her glitzy performance simply felt sub-standard. She did recover by delivering a riveting performance of "You Are So Beautiful." This should be enough to keep her in the competition, but this week she did not look like a finale contestant.
5. Phillip Phillips - "The Letter" and "Time Of the Season"
This could be the week that the idiosyncrasies of Phillip Phillips finally catch up with him. He has never finished in the bottom three, but this week he did not seem the match of the other contestants. His performance of the Box Tops classic "The Letter" was innovative but one of the most memorable melodies in pop music history got entirely lost in his efforts to change up the song. Phillip Phillips did stick to the melody line on the Zombies' "Time Of the Season," but the high notes that clinch the original recording seemed nearly out of his reach. For once a Phillip Phillips performance felt lacking in confidence.