The American Idol Top 3 went home to visit their family and friends this week. They laughed. They cried. They ate nachos.
Tonight the contestants will each perform three songs: one song selected by the judges, a song of their choice, and a pick by Jimmy.
Round One: Judges' Selection
Randy chose Etta James' "I'd Rather Be Blind" for Joshua Ledet. It was slow and kind of sultry. And this is the kind of song where his trademark growl isn't out of place. It works on a song like this one. The throwback microphone was a nice aesthetic touch. Steven offered nothing in the way of criticism and said Joshua must be living a dream come true right now. J.Lo said he brought down the house. Randy hopes Joshua can bring the throwback songs to the mainstream. I'm not holding my breath on that one. It was a typical Joshua performance. There was nothing particularly bad about it, but it wasn't over the top awesome. 4/5
Jessica Sanchez is singing "My All" by Mariah Carey. Jessica's not particularly wonderful at picking songs that show where she fits in the industry. This song, which she did not pick for herself, shows that beautifully. This sounds like it could be a Jessica original even though she hits a couple of bum notes in some of the late runs. Randy said this is one of the best times a Mariah song has ever been performed on TV. J.Lo said she showed people that she has control. Steven said she needs to get used to encores and thinks she'll be the last one standing. It wouldn't kill her to take a lesson from the Tyra Banks School of Smize, but it was a good performance. 4/5
From Madcon, Phillip Phillips is singing "Beggin'." It's clear from the opening bars that this was a great choice for him. It started slow, built in tempo, slowed down again, and Phillip was fantastic every note of the way. It took the audience a good 20 seconds to calm down after that. J.Lo said he caught a groove in that song and rode it all the way home. Steven said he hopes Phillip writes his own songs because he's got that kind of character. Randy said he's in the zone and has been since day one. Flawless. 5/5
Round One Winner: Phillip
Round Two: Contestants' Choice
Joshua Ledet chose "Imagine" for his Round Two pick. He's very subdued for this performance, as he should be, but he makes small changes to the melody that are odd to me. Steven said it was beautiful. J.Lo called it a pulled back and controlled performance and said his ability to feel the music is what makes him special. Randy asked why he chose that song and Joshua said it was the message of the song that made him want to sing it. Randy went on to say exactly what J.Lo said. I'll catch flack for saying this, I'm sure, but it didn't wow me. "Imagine" is such a simple, plain song and I feel like he did too much with it even if it was a toned down performance. 3.5/5
Taking a risk, Jessica Sanchez chose "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." It sounds like she chose the country version and sprinkled a little BBChez on top. It's not my favorite version of the song (that belongs to Aerosmith) but it was fantastic. Steven thanked her for taking a great song and making it greater. J.Lo remarked that she'd done the unthinkable because Steven didn't criticize her. Randy said it started slow but she delivered the big moment he expected by the end. I wish we'd seen this sort of thing from her all season long. 5/5
For yet another song pick, Phillip Phillips chose "Disease" by Matchbox 20. I could do without the saxophone player jamming on stage and having such a prominent role in the music, but aside from that, it's great. Not as great as Round One, but solid. J.Lo said she didn't feel like it was the "wow" performance that we need and want right now. Steven said he felt the same way J.Lo did. It was good but not great. Randy didn't like it because it was too subdued. I'm inclined to agree with the judges. He Phillip Phillips-ed the performance, but it didn't blow me out of my chair. 3/5
Round Two Winner: Jessica
Round Three: Jimmy's Pick
For Joshua Ledet, Jimmy picked "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige. A more perfect song may not exist for Joshua. We may call him Mantasia, but I'd say he's got a fair amount of Mary J. in him. This is another song where the growling makes sense. This is why I love Jimmy. He understands these contestants as artists. Randy said he's a natural performer and a great artist with true star potential. J.Lo said he the perfect marriage of knowing exactly what he's doing and losing control at the same time and that makes him exciting. Steven said it was over the top. This might be my favorite Joshua performance to date. 5/5
Jimmy chose "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5 for Jessica Sanchez. He wanted to find a song that would appeal to the older audiences but still show her as young, so, in his words, he cheated. It starts out great, but when she goes to her lower register, it gets a little rough. As soon as she's out of those bottom notes, she's great again. Steven said "perfect song, perfect voice." J.Lo said she sounded like Michael Jackson but needed Jermaine in that one little part. Randy liked it but didn't love it. There was never a moment. Randy's right. It was a great performance, but it didn't wow me. 4/5
To close the night, Jimmy chose "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger for Phillip Philllips. Phillip ditches the guitar and opts for just a piano and string orchestra accompaniment and a stool. He sticks to the melody like Jimmy hoped he would. Randy said it was the perfect song at the perfect time and deemed it Phillip's best performance on the show ever. J.Lo said there's 20 million girls who wish he was singing to them. Steven said he sang with passion. I didn't dislike it, but it was a little sleepy, and unlike Randy, I don't think it was his best performance on the show. (That'd be last week's Damien Rice number.) 4/5
Round Three Winner: Joshua
Each contestant won a round tonight proving it's really anybody's game at this point, despite the judges' clear favoritism. While Jessica and Joshua are both the big, powerhouse singers, they're showing themselves to be different kinds of artists in the last few weeks of the season. Jessica's the ballad singer while Joshua's the soul man. Phillip is in an entirely different genre of music from the two of them altogether. All three of them are great.
So, who do you think won the night?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.