Elise Testone surprised everyone this week when the New Jersey native squeaked through to another round of "American Idol."
Heading into the final six weeks of competition, Testone was widely regarded as the "underdog." Even judge Jennifer Lopez hinted that she was failing to connect emotionally with "Idol's" teenybopper viewership.
Testone, , had to give strong performances this week. Though her rendition of "No One" by Alicia Keys was solid, her later performance of "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye left something to desire.
"Elise has a vacation home in the bottom 3," said show mentor and music executive Jimmy Iovine. "She's always there."
E! picked Testone to go home this week, predicting that Jessica Sanchez, who was spared elimination a week earlier by a save from the judges, would get sympathy votes this week.
"While she's one of our favorite contestants, Elise just isn't connecting with voters and though Jessica seems to be having the same problem, her near-elimination last week will score her some extra votes," E! wrote.
"Elise is competent, but this is hardly the kind of song that will put her back in the race," wrote Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic. "After the performance, Ryan (urged) her to mention that her sick dog might die this week. Could this be a new 'Idol' strategy? If she survives next week, will her parakeet suddenly be on death's door?"
Before this week, Testone found herself in contest's bottom three on four occasions. At 28, she was oldest contestant still in the race, and her voice lent itself more to genres of music that do not resonate with teenagers.
Even Testone hinted at her troubles after her Wednesday performances.
"I'm always trying to find that balance. I know I got it. I'm just trying to show it to you in a minute and a half."
These contestants remain in the competition: Hollie Cavanagh, 18, of McKinney, Texas; Skylar Laine, 18, of Brandon, Miss.; Joshua Ledet, 19, of Westlake, La.; Jessica Sanchez, 16, of San Diego; and Phillip Phillips, 21 of Leesburg, Ga.