American Idol can be heartbreaking; audition rounds are sometimes disheartening, Hollywood week is brutal and final cuts are never a walk in the park. But there is no greater disappointment than being eliminated the week before hometown visits.
Whether the viewer agrees with the results or not, it is hard to not have a well of empathy for the contestant who has been both blessed and burdened by the exhilarating and exhausting American Idol journey, only to fall just shy of the coveted hometown visit. In reality, while the private jet and star treatment are no doubt alluring, what one hears most from the contestants when they discuss the hometown visit, is a longing to return to the sanity of their lives without it meaning that their Idol journey is over.
But of course, despite the show doing everything it can to delay the inevitable, the journey has to end for someone this week. After our weekly segment of, "The World According to Jimmy Iovine," performances by David Cook – Season 7 winner – and Jennifer Lopez, winner of the most biased judge award for Season 11, Ryan Seacrest got down to business.
Jessica and Joshua were sent to the safety of the couches leaving Phil Phillips and Hollie Cavanagh in the final two. Ryan then pulled a red herring out of his pocket by reminding viewers of the Chris Daughtry fiasco of Season 5, when an upset sent the beloved rocker home in fourth place. To be honest, before Joshua and Jessica were announced as safe, there was something exciting about the possibility of a surprise elimination that would shake Idol to its core. But with only Phillip and Hollie left standing, it was not the time to be entertaining such treasonous thoughts, especially after seeing the recap of Phillip's stunning performance of Damien Rice's, "Volcano," on Wednesday night.
But as the entire universe predicted, there would be no major upset in the fourth place elimination (unless, of course, you're Hollie - then it's quite a upset indeed). Phillip was announced as safe and then the real drama ensued as Hollie stood stoically by to watch her inter-seasonal video journey on American Idol; a montage that highlighted all of the reasons we've come to love Hollie. Her adorable little accent, her tenacity, and her perpetual cheerfulness (except when Jimmy and the judges were taking turns skewering her on stage) all culminated to make her one of the most likable contestants since Carrie Underwood.
Fitting for the occasion, Hollie chose to sing, "The Climb," which has become something of a theme-song for her. She was poised and dry-eyed as she belted out the lyrics of her inspirational mantra, which is more than can be said for Joshua who openly wept at the loss if his "bestie." Joining Joshua in his liquid expression of sorrow were Jessica and Jennifer.
In fact, Jimmy may have been the only person whose name begins with a "J" who was not weeping . . . myself included.