MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-Mexican-American contestant Jessica Sanchez earned another standing ovation from the "American Idol" judges on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila) -- but not for her solo performance of Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know."
Instead, Sanchez got the judges on their feet with her duet with fellow contestant Joshua Ledet. The duo performed "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me," originally sung by Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and George Michael.
The "Idol" contestants did a solo number and a duet on this week's episode, which featured songs from the 1980s.
Judge Randy Jackson called Sanchez and Ledet two of the "greatest" singers in the competition after their duet.
"One of the greatest performances I have seen on this show. They definitely gotta have it," said Jackson, who worked on the original recording of the song.
Judge Jennifer Lopez went further and called the two contestants a "dream pairing."
""I'm looking at them and I'm thinking -- final," she said.
Take two for Joshua
Ledet actually received two standing ovations from the judges on Wednesday night. He earned his first for his soulful rendition of Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" backed up by a gospel choir.
"Ask and ye shall receive, we got the powerhouse performance. Came out and held back but comfortable, he's going to let loose in a minute. Spectacular," Lopez said.
"Very rare that I want to stand up from beginning to end. So in your zone. a great song and you sang it, dude," Jackson added.
Also earning a standing ovation for her solo performance was Skylar Laine, who closed the show with a country-version of the Bette Midler ballad, "Wind Beneath My Wings."
"Best song pick for your voice and the end of the night. Beginning of a great career," judge Steven Tyler told Laine.
Jackson agreed that it was the best performance of the evening. "The song started it was beautiful. She needs a performance this week. At the end you showed up. Best performance. Keep that big voice. This girl wants it, too," he said.
Jessica picks Whitney
This is the second time Sanchez picked a Whitney Houston song for the live performances of "Idol." She earlier sang her hit, "I Will Always Love You," which earned her a standing ovation.
Although she didn't get the judges up from their seats this time around, Sanchez still received positive comments for "How Will I Know."
She also performed right after Ledet's well received solo number.
"Two powerhouse vocals in a row. Your choices are so natural to you," raved Lopez. "Crazy. Really good."
For his part, Tyler said, "Everything you do is beautiful and great."
Jackson, who worked on Houston's recording of the song, admitted that Sanchez had "big shoes to fill."
"Just, dude, I can't believe the maturity," he said. "She's gotta have it, too."
What the critics say
TV critics also praised Sanchez's performances on Wednesday night, which also saw Gwen Stefani from No Doubt as the guest mentor.
"Okay, let's just save a month and call this the final two. They play off each other well, but get plenty of chances to show off their big voices with solo moments. It's fast and totally professional," New York-based newspaper Newsday wrote of Sanchez's duet with Ledet.
"I'm telling you, these two are on a whole different level than everyone else this season," the newspaper added.
Newsday also liked Sanchez's solo number, noting that Stefani was "blown away" by her vocals.
"Sanchez is headed for full divahood," Newsday said. "Struts out there, surrounded by fans. She's sounding like Jennifer Hudson again, that nice, resonant tone, full of confidence."
Sanchez earlier sang Hudson's "Love You I Do," for which she got her first standing ovation from the judges.
Newsday actually ranked Sanchez at No. 4 this week, after Ledet (at No. 1), followed by Colton Dixon (with his rocked out version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time") and Laine.
Despite that the newspaper predicted a showdown between Ledet and Sanchez during the finals in May.
The results of this week's voting will be announced on Thursday night (Friday morning in Manila) and another contestant will be eliminated.