‘American Idol’ 2012 Top 4 Results Recap — A Balladeer Is Booted

American Idol 2012 said good-bye to yet another hopeful May 10 as the top 4 became the top 3. But before Hollie Cavanagh’s impressive streak of surviving the bottom two came to an end, Jennifer Lopez showed off her boy-toy and former Idol winner David Cook rocked out. Here’s a full recap of the hour.

Host Ryan Seacrest started off the show by pimping the upcoming Idol concert series, featuring the likes of the top 4 as well as dismissed hopefuls Skylar Laine, Colton Dixon, Elise Testone and the rest of the top 10 gang. The in-studio audience was beyond pumped when he revealed that everyone present would receive tickets to a show.

With the administrivia out of the way, finalists Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh, Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips performed The Mamas and the Papas’ hit “California Dreamin,” in keeping with the week’s theme. Moments later, a segment featuring the top 4–minus Phillip, who for some reason was absent–as they prepped for and filmed the week’s Ford Music Video aired.

When the video ended, Ryan summoned Phillip to centerstage for his results. Jimmy Iovine praised Phillip’s decision to replace the guitar with a sax player during “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and thought his rendition of “Volcano” was good enough to warrant a record deal. Rather than giving him a concrete answer, Ryan sent him back to the couch to wait longer.

Then he called Hollie forward to hear her results. Jimmy called “Faithfully” the kind of song that “really worked” for her in its “over the top” quality, but knocked her for not really understanding “the core” of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Like Phillip, she was sent to the couch to wait longer.

After a break, season 7 winner David Cook returned to the familiar stage to debut his new single “The Last Song I’ll Write for You,” which he is self-releasing following a split from RCA. He rocked it and reminded viewers why he was a great winner. And then it was time for more results.

Joshua, dressed super casually in skinny jeans and a striped t-shirt, stepped up next for results. Jimmy didn’t care for his gospel-inspired rendition of “You Raise Me Up,” but called his second round choice “a piece of magic.” In keeping with Phillip and Hollie’s results, he too was sent to the couch to wait longer.

The last of the top 4, judges’ darling Jessica, was then summoned forward. Jimmy didn’t think that “impersonating” a legendary old jazz singer–as she did by choosing an Etta James hit–was a good choice for the youngster, but he found her delivery of a “Dreamgirls” tune to be “flawless.” And then it was back to the couch for Jessica and her sky-high heels.

With 40 minutes down and no actual results revealed, Idol took a “break” from the elimination action as a sparkly blue leotard-clad Jennifer Lopez took to the stage to perform “Dance Again.” She and her collection of sexy back-up dancers–including her much-younger man Casper Smart–really brought it in that “dance parties rock” sort of way.

Following a break, the final four stood on stage together. Ryan turned to the judges and asked their impressions of the hopefuls. Steven Tyler said he’d enjoyed watching Phillip evolve over time, and insisted that he’s “not just a one and done.” Jennifer addressed Hollie, appreciating how she’d gone from being a scared auditioner during season 10 to an in-control performer. Randy Jackson said he was “so happy” that Joshua returned after being turned down for season 10, and called his round two performance last night one of the best performances he’d ever seen on a singing competition. Finally, Jennifer scoffed at the notion that Jessica uses a growling “trick.”

And then it was time for the real results. Jessica was first to be declared safe for Hometown Heroes week. She was followed by Joshua, leaving Hollie and Phillip to face the music. After Ryan reminded viewers that surprises had happened in the past at this stage in the competition–referencing the surprise exits of Chris Daughtry and James Durbin–he revealed that no big surprise was in order this season: Hollie Cavanagh was eliminated, sending Phillip to the top 3.

Hollie sang her way out via the Miley Cyrus tune “The Climb” as she hugged her fellow finalists one last time and shook hands with the judges. Joshua in particular seemed sad to see his friend go, but Hollie certainly went out on a high note.

Who will take full advantage of the Hometown Heroes week and rise to the top of the class? Watch the American Idol 2012 top 3 show May 16 at 8 PM on FOX to find out.

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