American Idol

Surprise! Hollie survives again while Skylar gets the boot on 'American Idol'

May 3, 2012 at 10:46 PM ET

It came down to Hollie and Skylar and Thursday, and it was the country girl who was sent packing.

When her run on “American Idol” finally finishes, Hollie Cavanagh would be a natural fit on a different reality TV show: “Survivor.”

She got the second-lowest number of votes on "Idol" this week, the fifth time in the last six weeks that she’s been among the lowest vote-getters. But she’s never quite hit the bottom, and that’s earned her a spot among the final four contestants in season 11.

Instead, it was Skylar Laine’s gun-toting country twang that was shown the door. Skylar has been nothing but fun all season, but has lost some of her mojo in recent weeks and was always a better performer than a singer. The show will be duller now that she’s gone, but it’s not like leaving at this stage is a death sentence for country singers. Think Kellie Pickler in season five, who came in sixth and has done pretty well for herself since.

A month ago, not many would have expected Skylar to go before Hollie, when the latter looked scared to death and overthought every note like a karaoke singer. But Hollie has since found her stride and is getting better every week. Though she still has a lot of ground to make up, she’s the lone finalist who seems capable of surprising every week.

Who's your pick to win the crown this year?

While everyone else is in play-it-safe mode, she’s having to fight to stay in it each week and has responded with a series of strong performances. She's been the least predictable of the finalists, and is using that to her advantage by coming through in the clutch.

The results were great news for Phillip Phillips, who Jimmy Iovine said was “coasting” but continued to sail toward his inevitable spot in the finale. He also looks to be getting a health-related excuse note for missing the filming for the Ford music videos, which at least saves him the embarrassment of seeing himself in the commercials on Thursday nights.

Skylar's elimination was also big for Jessica Sanchez, whose “Proud Mary” was termed a “travesty” by Jimmy, yet earned her the most votes among the women still in the competition. Between that and the comments about Phillip, it was a rare night when the Interscope boss had his fingers far from the pulse of the “Idol” voters.

Joshua Ledet, the third member of the top three, was a no-brainer given how well he sang, and the superlatives the judges tossed his way Wednesday. Given how well he, Phillip and Jessica have done this season, it’s hard to imagine Hollie lasting past next week.

But then again, at this point you bet against her at your own peril.

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