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Joshua Ledet Shines on American Idol; Jones Booted (video)

Jessica Sanchez left the door open to the “American Idol” crown last night (Mar. 14) after she failed to overwhelm the judges. A so-so night saw Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips rise to the top.

The show was overshadowed, somewhat, by the departure of contestant Jermaine Jones, who failed to reveal he had four outstanding arrest warrants pending against him.

“With the cooperation of law enforcement, we discovered information that left us with no choice but to eliminate one of our own from the competition. When you’re doing a live show, anything can happen,” said Host Ryan Seacrest, announcing the very public elimination.

Still, it was one of those nights that makes the hit music show painful to watch. Most of the performances were lackluster, although the judges, as usual, were generally effusive, and often ridiculous, in their praise. Simon Cowell was definitely missed.

The singers were required to pick songs from the year they were born. Interscope Records mogul Jimmy Iovine and the Black Eyed Peas will.i.am handled the mentoring.

Phillips probably turned in the best performance with his rendition of Otis Redding‘s “Hard to Handle.”

“It was a great song for you. It was perfect. You sang it. It was perfect! I can’t believe it!” Jennifer Lopez crowed.

On the other hand, the judges gave Ledet a standing ovation for his rendition of the Michael Bolton’s version of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” “Joshua! That was so good, we were up half way through it!” said judge Steven Tyler said.

Sanchez, who soared after singing the late-Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” failed to excite the judges this time out. She sang Gloria Estefan’s arrangement of “Turn the Beat Around.” But judge Randy Jackson had some problems with the song selection.

Randy was even harder on Heejun Han. “I didn’t enjoy this at all,” he said. “It was pitchy all over the place. It felt like you were out of breath the whole time.” He sang Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting.”

After the show, Jackson predicted Han was the most likely to go.

Elise Testone, who is on the bubble after being saved by the judges last week, redeemed herself with Tina Turner’s 1983 cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

“God, I love your voice!” Tyler said.

Among other contestants:

Deandre Brackensick sang “Endless Love,” as suggested by will.i.am, but should have gone with his favorite “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” He stumbled through the song. “I think Jimmy and Will steered you wrong,” said Lopez with he finger on the problem.

Shannon Magrane, who is the youngest contestant at 16, sang Mariah Carey‘s “One Sweet Day,” a dangerous choice given Carey’s vocal range and distinctive style. The judges were courteous, but not effusive, which is like damning with faint praise from them.

Colton Dixon also fumbled on song choice. “Broken Heart” by White Lion even confused the judges. He drew mixed reviews from the judges. He should have listened to idol Chris Daughtry and picked a song everyone knew.

Erika Van Pelt, another singer, another so-so performance. She wasn’t all bad, wasn’t all good. “You had too much going on with it,” Tyler said. Well put.

Skylar Laine has talent, but really hasn’t been able to break out of the middle of the pack and this week was no exception. She sang Bonnie Raitt’s “Love’s Sneaking Up On You,” and turned in a credible performance. Iovine tried to dissuade her from singing the song and was probably right.

Hollie Cavanagh sang Celine Dion’s cover of Laura Branigan’s “Power of Love.” The song was a little too big for her. Certain artists should be avoided at all costs and Dion is one of them. There’s no way to compare with her and comparisons are always inevitable.

Check out Joshua’s performance below. One contestant will be eliminated tonight.

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