And then there were four!
With the American Idol finale looming in two weeks, the stakes were higher than ever tonight as Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet and Hollie Cavanagh took the stage.
Round one was "California Dreamin'"—songs either about California or by artists from the Golden State—and round two comprised songs that inspired the contestants so much, they wish they had written them.
Phillip could have probably just gone out there, given a wolf whistle and shot right to the top two, but instead he offered up a low-key yet still super-cool version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" It was easily his best performance in weeks.
Hollie Cavanagh proved—perhaps to herself, most of all—that she belonged in the final four with Journey's "Faithfully." Jennifer Lopez was on the verge of tears, thinking about the 18-year-old's, er, journey and how Hollie was finally owning her gift on that stage.
You can't really do much with Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" other than sing it well—and, duh, that's obviously what Joshua Ledet did!
Jessica Sanchez happily sang the blues, namely Etta James' '"Steal Away," a vocal that Randy Jackson called "ridiculous."
"Secretly, I am 65 years old and I've been singing all my life," the 16-year-old joked backstage.
The finalists then capped off round one's ode to California with a couple of duets, first Joshua and Phillip doing L.A.-based Maroon 5's "This Love," a song choice Steven Tyler called "brilliant" and "perfect."
Jessica and Hollie followed up with a charming yet not entirely harmonious version of the Bangles' eternally ingratiating "Eternal Flame." Sure enough, it was "a little strange" for Randy.
Before round two got underway, Ryan pointed out Julianne Hough and Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman sitting in the audience. After Adam had talked up the film for a bit, Ryan asked Julianne if he could ask her something he'd "been meaning to ask" for awhile.
"Will you give this note I wrote to Tom Cruise?" Ryan deadpanned, pulling a piece of paper out of his suit pocket.
Next up, the judges positively raved about Phillip's cover of Damien Rice's "Volcanoes"—for good reason! It wasn't, to use a volcano metaphor, explosive—but Phillip never is. Instead, the performance was more of a heart-gripping slow burn.
He may now ascend into the top three with our blessing.
Hollie fudged up a bit, however, with Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
"A little too much vibrato, too much shaking," observed Jennifer, while Randy thought the overall song choice was wrong.
"It gave you nowhere to go," he lamented. "There were no moments for you."
On the other hand, Joshua positively manhandled the competition with his rendition of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." There's no need to burn slowly when you burn so brightly.
The judges were out of their chairs, bowing down, the whole shebang.
"I can go home right now! I've never heard anything like that in my life!" raved Steven. Jennifer called it "sickening"—in a great way, of course!
"I think that's one of the best performances in the history of any singing show—including ours—any show!" exclaimed Randy.
Jessica, who somehow had to take the stage after that, respectably closed the show with the big-voice favorite "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."
Poor Hollie, right?
Who do you think is in trouble tonight? Just how amazing is Joshua? And how about Phillip, bringing it home just in time?! Sound off in the comments!