Hollie Cavanagh was sent home from top-rated Fox television talent show "American Idol" on Thursday night after singing "I Can't Make You Love Me" – a song choice that proved prophetic.
Cavanagh closed out the show by performing Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," remaining composed while fellow contestant Joshua Ledet wept as she sang.
Almost 70 million votes were cast to determine Thursday's outcome. Audience voting was based on performances on Wednesday night's episode during which contestants sang songs by artists from California, followed by songs they wished they had written.
Cavanagh first belted out "Faithfully" by rock band Journey, and the show's judges marveled that she was hitting her stride. Panelist Randy Jackson said her rendition "did him [Journey singer Steve Perry] proud."
The judges, however, were less enthusiastic about her second selection, Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." Jackson called it "the wrong choice at the wrong time." Jennifer Lopez told her there was "a little too much vibrato," and mentor and record producer Jimmy Iovine was the most blunt, saying Cavanagh "crashed and burned."
At 18-years-old, Cavanagh's failure was chalked up to her lack of real-life experience with heartbreak that was needed to infuse the song with proper emotion.
”It’s not good to get bad criticism at this point, but I felt [the song],” Hollie told HollywoodLife.com after taping the live show. “I felt the lyrics in it, she continued. “They can tell me I didn’t feel it, but I felt it. I feel like I felt it, then I felt it, you know?”
Hollie Cavanagh was perennially in the bottom three each week. But she hung in there, much to the surprise of some. Her advice to future American Idol contestants?
"You're going to be on stage, with people watching you, but you have to let it go. You just have to sing your heart out and do your best, no matter what anybody else thinks. Especially on this show, you have to show people who you are. You can't be just a voice. You have to show your personality. That's something I've definitely learned," she told USA Today.
"You have to be confident. When you come here, you can't be timid and let anybody sway you in any direction. If you believe in yourself, then you'll go far."
On Thursday's elimination episode, Lopez rose from the judges' table to perform her new song "Dance Again." Season 7 winner David Cook also stopped by to serenade audiences with his "The Last Song I'll Write for You."
"Idol", which first aired in on Fox in 2002, has launched the careers of singers Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Husdon, among many others. Now in its 11th season, the show continues to be the most watched reality show in America.
Audiences vote for their favorite performers by phone and text message each week as contestants are challenged by a variety of musical styles. The winner receives a recording contract following the final episode later this month. (Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)