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Jessica Sanchez's Whitney Houston performance outshines Skylar Laine's and Hollie Cavanagh's on 'American Idol'

In the

In the "American Idol" season 11, here are the top 13, from left clockwise, Heejun Han, Skylar Laine, DeAndre Brackensick, Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet, Shannon Magrane, Erika Van Pelt, Jermaine Jones, Jessica Sanchez, Jeremy Rosado, Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon and Elise Testone. Photo Credit: Fox

Jessica Sanchez officially became the one to beat on "American Idol" Wednesday night, blowing away even the strong performances from Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanagh with her knockout rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."

It was the right song at the right time for the dynamo with the huge voice; it got a standing ovation from the judges and the audience, and prompted Jennifer Lopez to say, "Just amazing, I'm speechless. ... God bless you!"

The women definitely had an advantage Wednesday night, as they got to show off their pipes on Houston songs. The guys tried to impress with songs from Stevie Wonder.

Here's how I ranked the 13 finalists; put in your own thoughts in the comments or on Twitter using #ndidol.

1. Jessica Sanchez's "I Will Always Love You" was everything you'd want in a big "Idol" moment -- gorgeous tone, perfectly performed, totally memorable. Brought everyone to their feet and got Steven Tyler to say, "You may be the one -- you just made 40 million people cry."

2. On any other night, Skylar Laine's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" would have won the night. She put a country twang on a classic and made it believable, effortlessly soaring on the chorus. In the words of Tyler, it was "a thing of beauty."

3. Hollie Cavanagh's "All the Man That I Need" had guest mentor Mary J. Blige cackling in glee at her "sick" voice in rehearsals. It was big and strong, exactly what you want when someone's singing Whitney.

4. Shannon Magrane's "I Have Nothing" was intense, controlled and spot-on -- too bad, as she admitted, her nerves got the best of her and she couldn't really let go. It could have been something memorable.

5. Erika Van Pelt's "I Believe in You and Me" was called "amazing" and "unbelievable" by the judges, but I didn't think it deserved such over-the-top praise. Good, not great.

6. Joshua Ledet kicked off the night with "I Wish" -- tons of energy and performed well, but not a great song choice, in my opinion. Randy Jackson called it "flawless."

7. Heejun Han's "All in Love is Fair" was done in a soft, stripped-down manner -- sincere and slow, and even though I really like him, it was nothing special for me.

8. Deandre Brackensick's "Master Blaster" fit his vibe perfectly, even if I wasn't wowed melodically; it was "Different flavor than everyone else, and I love that," said Tyler.

9. Jeremy Rosado's sweet voice came out on "Ribbon in the Sky," but I agreed with Jackson -- not a great performance, needed more "swag" or something.

10. Colton Dixon's "Lately" never quite soared for me, but definitely had its moments, with Jackson calling the ending "flawless."

11. I wanted to like Jermaine Jones' "Knocks Me Off My Feet" but agreed with Jackson that he was trying to do too much and should just sing.

12. Phillip Phillips's "Superstition" was interesting and high-energy, if not that enjoyable for me. As Jackson said, "You drive your own car in your own lane."

13. Elise Testone's "I'm Your Baby Tonight" showed off her nice tone, but next time she should stick with a song she knows, instead of what Jimmy Iovine wants to hear.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter using #ndidol.


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