ABC's interactive singing competition, "Rising Star," continued Sunday night with three contestants advancing to next week’s finale after the East Coast vote and one additional act being sent through after the West Coast broadcast. Two other acts were sent home.
Jesse Kinch, Dana Williams and Austin French advanced after the East Coast broadcast.
Audrey Kate Geiger was saved by the West Coast and also advanced to next week's finals.
Maneepat Molloy and Joshua Peavy were sent home.
The top six acts went up against one another to compete for the highest score. The first three sang with the wall up. The act with the lowest score from that point on was placed in the “hot seat.”
The next contestant then sang with the wall down, trying to beat that person’s score. Viewers who downloaded the "Rising Star" app were asked to vote “yes” or “no,” just as they did in the audition round.
Host Josh Groban and the "Rising Star" experts -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley -- presided over the performances. Votes from the experts only counted for 1 percent.
Here are the highlights from Sunday night:
Austin French kicked things off with OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” French took the advice the experts gave him earlier to move around the stage a little more and it paid off, earning him 81 percent of the vote.
Kesha voted “yes,” calling the 20-year-old Tifton, Georgia, native “infectiously cute.” Paisley also voted “yes,” calling French a natural. Ludacris added his “yes” vote, noting that during the performance, Austin moved farther off stage than any other contestant so far. French advanced to the finals.
Sixteen-year-old Bangkok, Thailand, native Maneepat Molloy was the next contestant to take the stage. Earlier, she was urged by the experts to let loose and be herself. Molloy chose Sia’s “Chandelier” for her performance and was only able to collect 27 percent of the vote.
Ludacris voted “no,” explaining the young singer “didn’t look as comfortable” as he would’ve liked, but complimented her on her courage in taking on such a difficult song. Brad voted “yes” because he felt she took the experts’ advice and worked on her stage presence. Kesha also acknowledged Maneepat looked nervous, but believed she “sang beautifully" and voted “yes.” Molloy was sent home.
The previous Sunday night, Jesse Kinch was challenged by Paisley to show a softer side of his voice and prove he wasn’t a “one-trick pony.” That was Brad’s advice this week as well. Kinch answered the challenge, turning Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” into a power ballad that garnered 83 percent of the vote.
Brad voted “yes,” commenting that Jesse “reminded everybody how great that song is.” Kesha called the performance a “God-like experience” and voted “yes.” Ludacris took Paisley’s comment a step further by saying Kinch made everyone “forget it was a Michael Jackson song.” He also voted “yes.” Kinch moved on to the finals.
Dana Williams, who sang with the wall down, channeled Billie Holiday for her version of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” Before the performance, Kesha told Williams she believed in the Los Angeles native and fought to keep her in the competition. But she wanted the 24-year-old to prove she wanted it just as bad. Dana raised the wall with 75 percent of the vote.
Kesha voted “yes,” calling Williams a “diamond in the rough” and adding that this performance was “the best she’s had on this show.” Ludacris felt she proved to him that she wanted it more than anyone else on the show and voted "yes." Paisley called the performance “emotional,” adding Dana connected with the audience better than she’d ever done in the past. Williams advanced to the finals.
Next, it was Audrey Kate Geiger’s turn to “raise the wall or go home.” Earlier, Paisley called her “one of a kind,” but Ludacris and Kesha felt her stage presence needed work. She chose Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and failed to raise the wall with only 69 percent of the vote.
The judges disagreed with America. Ludacris, who voted "yes," noted the song choice might’ve turned voters off. Otherwise, he thought the performance was top-notch. Kesha was also disappointed with the song choice, but praised Audrey’s execution. Paisley voted “yes” and urged America to save her. Geiger was sent home after the East Coast performance, but was saved by the West Coast and moves on to the finals.
The last performer of the night was Joshua Peavy. Josh originally wanted to sing John Newman’s “Love Me Again.” Brad, however, wanted to hear the Georgia native sing a country song and suggested Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Peavy collected 72 percent of the vote, not enough to raise the wall.
Paisley was pleased with the performance and voted "yes." Brad, who has a recording studio on his farm, even told Peavy, “If you get saved, we’ll see you next week. If you don’t get saved, come over to the farm, we’ll record something.” Ludacris voted “no,” confessing that it came down to a choice of eliminating Dana Williams or Peavy and reiterated his earlier comment that Williams wanted it more. Kesha said she was “on the fence” at first, but Joshua won her over at the end and voted “yes.” Peavy was eliminated.
The "Rising Star" season finale airs next Sunday on ABC.