On a night when Hollie Cavanagh fans from throughout the metroplex packed the McKinney Performing Arts Center to cheer on their hometown hero, Hollie treated fans to two stellar performances, and a look back at her American Idol journey thus far.
"It's insane how far I got [in the competition] from last year to this year," says Hollie, "At my first audition, I had no confidence, no self belief. I saw how much belief Jennifer [Lopez] had in me and it really inspired me."
Hollie's first crack at American Idol came last year during Season 10, when she made it as far as the Green Mile round before getting cut. This season, Hollie is one of only four left standing.
"When you have something that you really want, you have to just go for it," says Hollie, "And that's what I'm doing."
In Round #1, dubbed, "California Dreaming", Hollie chose Journey's classic, "Faithfully."
"Dude, you are right in the zone here," said Randy Jackson to Hollie before addressing the audience and panel of judges, "Hollie wants to take this thing y'all!"
"I always believed," said Jennifer Lopez, "It got me a little bit emotional seeing how far you've come. It's just a beautiful thing watching how much you've grown. You have such a confidence about you. I've been waiting to see that from you where you're just ready to sing - really ready to share your gift with everybody. And you did. It was really very beautiful."
"I've watched you blossom," said Steven Tyler, "Your choice of song tonight was over the top again. Beautiful."
The duet Hollie sang with Jessica Sanchez was not as well received. Singing The Bangles song, "Eternal Flame" while swinging back and forth on Cirque du Soleil-esque swings, Jackson had this to say to the duo, "That was a little strange for me actually. I thought is was weird. I didn't get the best from either of you."
Lopez was a bit kinder with, "I don't think it was as bad as all that. You both have sweetness and you both have power."
In Round #2, contestants were challenged to sing a song that inspired them so much they wished they'd written it themselves. For this round, Hollie chose Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
"Every girl likes to write love songs that you know you can't really say maybe to the boy that we love," said Hollie, "If we can't say it, we can always put it into a song."
Said mentor Jimmy Iovine, "Hollie has to do magnificent. She can't just do ok tonight."
After a performance that had MPAC guests on their feet cheering, the judges shared comments that were less than enthusiastic. Tyler and Lopez noted Hollie's young age, and lack of life experience as a possible reason it fell flat for them.
"A song like that, you have to have gone through a bunch of things to feel that," said Tyler, "I thought it fell a little short as far as a dynamic range of how you can sing."
"You got the emotion," said Lopez, "but it got the better of you."
For Jackson, it had to do with song choice, "To me it was the wrong choice at the wrong time."
When asked by Ryan Seacrest for her reaction to the judges critiques, Hollie replied, "I love this song. I was feeling it."
According to the deafening cheers and applause ringing into the street from the McKinney Performing Arts Center, hundreds of McKinney Hollie-pops were feeling it too.
Tomorrow night, Hollie will learn whether or not she advances to the next round. If Hollie moves on to become one of the top three finalist, she will travel home this weekend, where she will be honored with a hometown hero welcome. The city will treat Hollie to a parade in her honor, and in turn, Hollie will treat McKinney to a live concert Saturday night.
Be sure to tune in to American Idol on FOX on Thursday night at 7 p.m. to learn Hollie's fate. For the latest breaking McKinney news concerning Hollie and American Idol, stay right here at TownSquareBuzz.com.
See photos from the Hollie Watch Party here.