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American Idol 2012: Steven Van Zandt mentors; Joshua Ledet gets another standing ovation

For the first time in a long time, I missed old-school "American Idol" Wednesday night.

You know, a time when contestants got critiques involving cruise ship references and the word "cabaret."

Don't get me wrong: The five remaining singers on this season of "Idol" are good...really good. But the abundance of praise from the judges on Wednesday seemed a bit excessive.

Hey, Steven Tyler: Is Joshua Ledet really one of the top two Idols EVER? And hey, Jennifer Lopez: Is Joshua REALLY one of the best singers in the last 50 years?

Um, probably not.

On Wednesday's episode of "American Idol," the top five singers each performed two songs: one from a British musician and one from the '60s. Steven Van Zandt mentored the contestants. Overall, it was a fine show, though I wasn't as pumped as the judges.

Georgia's Phillip Phillips had his weakest night in a long time, but I'm not convinced he'll go home this week. Weigh in: Who do you think will be eliminated?

Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.


Hollie Cavanagh, "River Deep -- Mountain High": It's a solid performance from Hollie, who seems to have regained a lot of her confidence in recent weeks. I'm glad she opted for a fast tune again, but things get a little bit boring toward the middle of the song. While I like Hollie's energy, this isn't the most memorable performance in the world. However, she's making a comeback and this is a good step forward.

Steven: "You showed me you've got it in you."

Jennifer: "In the second verse you were really biting into the words."

Randy: "I loved it, too."

Phillip Phillips, "The Letter": Big surprise...Phillip makes a gritty rock song out of this Box Tops tune. Phillip takes the stage with his guitar and delivers pretty much a standard Phillip Phillips performance. He's having fun and trying to be creative, but I'm not going crazy over this one. Make no mistake: I don't hate it. I'll give it my generic "fun" label.

Randy: "You came out and made it your own and changed it...You made it new for me."

Jennifer: Doesn't know the original song. "You're so compelling to watch."

Steven: "You should be so proud."

Note: Apparently Phillip has a girlfriend in the audience.

Skylar Laine, "Fortunate Son": It's a good song choice for Skylar, and as usual she delivers tons and tons of energy on stage. There are no major vocal flaws. However, is it just me, or does this performance enter karaoke territory at times? Maybe it's a little, um, safe for Skylar. I think she could've pushed herself a little more.

Jennifer: "It's like you attack every single song...It's so natural for you."

Steven: "It was just fabulous."

Randy: "You are born to be on stage."

DUET TIME! Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet sing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin.'" OK, this is rough. Phillip's limitations are pretty obvious, and Joshua's lower register is a little weak. They just look uncomfortable. They slightly redeem it toward the end, but not really.

Steven: "That was so good...I needed to hear that...The duet was perfect."

Jennifer: "It was major heartthrob time."

Randy: "It came delivered it."

Jessica Sanchez, "Proud Mary": Here's another song that should perhaps be banned from all reality TV competition song lists. Just a suggestion. Jessica sounds fine, and delivers lots of soulful big notes. That said, she doesn't really add anything new to the song. It seems a little copycat at times. Summary? Good, but not great.

Jennifer: "You're so grown up there, it's crazy...I love seeing you move."

Steven: "You did it again."

Randy: "This performance was OK for me."

Joshua Ledet, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg": Yet another song that might need to be banned from "Idol." Anyway, it's a solid performance from Joshua. Big notes. Lots of emotion. You get the picture. It warrants my usual criticism of Joshua: He over-sings at points. Then, of course, there is his suit jacket. It involves stripes on the arms...and sleeves that are possibly too short.

Steven: "You're such a talent, you're so on fire right now." Calls him one of the 2 best idols of all time.

Jennifer: "You're like a throwback from another era."

Randy: "The jacket is fly."

*The judges name Joshua, Skylar and Hollie as the round one standouts.

Hollie Cavanagh, "Bleeding Love": Whoa, nice song choice from Hollie to kick off the British theme. Hollie sits on top of a piano and delivers a calm, restrained performance with lots of really good power notes. My biggest criticism is that with the super-slow arrangement, the performance gets a bit sleepy at times. I'm still a fan, though.

Steven: "I loved it, I loved it, I loved it...I don't even know that song."

Jennifer: "You surprised yourself."

Randy: "To me, you're two for two tonight and that was unbelievable."

Phillip Phillips, "Time of the Season": Predictably, Phillip plays his guitar while performing this song by The Zombies. Once again, I'd label this performance as "fun." I know Blake Lewis did well with this tune a few seasons ago, but I'm still not entirely convinced it's a singer's song. The performance pretty much sticks to the melody and doesn't do much to dramatically change my opinion of Phillip.

Randy: "It was a nice performance."

Jennifer: "You did a good job with it."

Steven: "I'm glad you chose that song...You sang it really well, so good for you."

TRIO! Skylar Laine, Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh sing "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher." It's awkward, but still miles ahead of the guys' duet.

Steven: "It was great...I loved it."

Jennifer: "You all have such great voices."

Randy: "I think all three of you sounded amazing."

Skylar Laine, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me": Aww, this song makes me miss Nadia Turner. Anyone else remember when she sang this in season four? Anyway, Skylar makes a country version of this tune...of course. I like this vocal much, much better than Skylar's first performance of the night. She hits some really nice notes. The only strange part? The random actors sitting on a bench on stage.

Randy: "You're definitely peaking at the right time."

Jennifer: "You know how to make it work."

Steven: "It works when you work it."

Jessica Sanchez, "You Are So Beautiful": Jessica sits on stage and is surrounded by candles while singing this Joe Cocker tune. It's another calm, restrained vocal from Jessica and I really enjoy it. She's clearly in her comfort zone, taking time to draw attention to some of the song's standout notes. Powerful performance...nice job overall.

Steven: "You once again showed America just how beautiful your voice is."

Jennifer: "It was so beautiful, you took your time with it."

Randy: "Your talent level is just unbelievable."

Joshua Ledet, "To Love Somebody": Big notes? Check. Lots of emotion? Check. Possible over-singing? Check. I like this a lot better than Joshua's first performance, which seemed a little too gimmicky. His second song includes a lot more emotion and hooks my attention. The judges give him a standing impressive achievement, considering Joshua had never heard this song before "Idol."

Randy: "That is what it's really all about...You're one of the best singers ever on this show."

Jennifer: "There's so few people who can perform that way...I think you're one of the best singers I've seen in 50 years."

Steven: "You're such a great artist."