'American Idol' judges spread the love for final 3

Associated Press Modified: May 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm •  Published: May 16, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The three "American Idol" finalists earned nearly uniform votes of confidence Wednesday from the show's judges. Now it's the audience tally that will determine which two compete for glory in next week's finale.

If the night had a teacher's pet, it was Joshua Ledet, 20, who delivered what Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler deemed flawless performances. Each contestant performed three songs: One picked by the judges, one by producer-mentor Jimmy Iovine, and one chosen by the singers themselves.

Ledet's gritty version of Etta James' "I'd Rather Be Blind" had the judges on their feet, a common reaction to the Louisiana gospel singer. He also impressed the panel with John Lennon's "Imagine" and Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama."

"This is another Joshua moment," Tyler said after the James cover, adding that Ledet sounded like an "American Idol" winner.

Jessica Sanchez, 16, of San Diego, didn't disappoint the judges on their pick for her, Mariah Carey's "My All." It drew what verged on another Tyler prediction.

"When you sing, you make people hang on your every note. ... You'll be the last one standing here, I believe," the rocker said.

There was praise as well for Sanchez's take on "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," from Tyler's band Aerosmith, but Randy Jackson found her performance of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" just "OK," differing with his colleagues.

Bluesy, guitar-strumming Phillip Phillips, 21, of Leesburg, Ga., had the audience swooning over his version of "Beggin'" by Madcon.

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