American Idol Top 3 Tackle Judges' and Jimmy's Picks: Who Earned a Spot in the Finale?

You’ve got to hand it* to Randy Jackson: I can’t think of anyone else in the history of reality televion who could select a song for a contestant on a singing competition, then proceed to mess up its title live, on camera. (*And by “it,” I may or may not be referring to a pink slip.)

Yet that’s exactly what the Dawg did when he announced that Joshua Ledet would be covering “I’d Rather Be Blind” (which is actually called “I’d Rather Go Blind”) during American Idol‘s Top 3 performance night. Yes, folks, weep while you contemplate how much the “third judge” has stowed away in his checking account over the last 11 seasons.

But enough about Randy and his ilk! We’ve got to dish the final nine Season 11 performances before the two-part season finale. I’ll post a full recap of the proceedings on Thursday right here at TVLine.com, but until then, here are just a few pithy thoughts on what just went down.

Judges’ Choice
Joshua Ledet: Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” (picked by Randy) | I think I was feeling Joshua’s duds — black jacket with white stitching and red button holes, gray vest, red shirt, red rose accessory — a little more than the performance. But given that it was the outfit of the season (men’s division), that’s not too much of a knock on the vocal, which was solid, but perhaps just a wee bit disconnected.

Jessica Sanchez: Mariah Carey’s “My All” (picked by J.Lo) | The most challenging number of the night, and unfortunately, that was evident in the way Jessica seemed to be just under the note for at least a third of the song. To take out of context part of Jessica’s post-performance comment: “I wouldn’t have picked that song for myself.” Oh girl, I wouldn’t have picked it for you, either, unless I wanted an all-guy finale.

Phillip Phillips: The Four Seasons’/Madcon’s “Beggin” | It’s funny, when Jessica doesn’t give Randy a “moment moment moment,” he’s all over her like a baby to a bottle of formula. But when Phillip gives a decent but not particularly memorable performance, we get references to a “Phil Phillips concert.” (Also, who gave Randy permission to shorten Phillip’s name to Phil?)

Contestant’s Choice
Joshua Ledet: John Lennon’s “Imagine” | I loved how restrained Joshua’s vocal was here — J.Lo was right that he treated the lyrics like a sermon — but I wish the band’s arrangement had been equal to the task. Imagine this performance with just a piano, and no cheesy string section or sappy background “ahh-ahh-ahh-ahhs”? (It’s easy of you try.)

Jessica Sanchez: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” | I’m not convinced this is the type of artist Jessica wants to be in a post-Idol world, but her Pocahontas-esque pantsuit and necklace were lovely. (Urgh, that was a total Paula Abdul critique from me.)

Phillip Phillips: Matchbox 20’s “Disease” | I’m not crazy, I’m just a little underwhelmed.

Jimmy’s Choice
Joshua Ledet: Mary J. Blige’s “No! More! DRAMA!” | Church attendance is sure to be down for the next few weeks, because Joshua took us there and back, then back again, then Baptized us all in the name of R&B and raw emotion, so really, there’s no need for a regular service, right? Also, lawdie, he took off his jacket again.

Jessica Sanchez: Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” | Her vocal was as light and pretty as a swarm of butterflies rising from a mountain meadow, but the song didn’t give Jessica the explosive moment of last week’s “And I Am Telling You…” Really, this was a Top 8 or Top 9 kind of performance when she really needed heavy artillery.

Phillip Phillips: Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” | Jimmy may have had to force him into the role of the sensitive romantic, but it definitely worked for him. When Phillip actually follows the melody and hits the notes, the creakiness of his tone can be really evocative. Of all the performances tonight, this was the finest piece of storytelling, and because it closed the show, it might’ve wiped out memories of Phillip’s two prior (and weaker) numbers and earned him a slot in the finale.

Anyhow, I’ll be back to post a full episode recap on Thursday right here at TVLine.com. But until then, hit the comments and tell us who you think deserves to advance to the finale. And for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!