Face it, this season's singers are a first-rate group. Even after the agonizing consecutive departures of Colton, Elise, Skylar and Hollie, we're left with an unpredictable showdown between the two best pure singers and an eccentric stylist.
The only real parallel in American Idol history is Season 5's final three: Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin and winner Taylor Hicks. That's a good omen for Phillip as we look at this year's trio.
Phillip Phillips: Take it easy
Could win if he doesn't change a thing. Bring out the guitar, sing an easygoing version of a classic hit without fretting about a missed note or 10, and pick something unexpected to surprise the skeptics and delight your fans.
Will lose if an electromagnetic pulse obliterates all television programming for the next two weeks. Phillip has already done his worst (remember In the Midnight Hour?) and escaped unscathed. He seems unbeatable, and his two formidable opponents will probably cancel each other out, but that smidgen of uncertainty will keep us watching.
Jessica Sanchez: Take it to the limit
Could win if she combines a crowd-pleasing ballad upon which to unleash all of her bounteous vocal gifts (think last week's And I Am Telling You) with one of her rare but memorable re-imaginings (think Beyoncé's Sweet Dreams).
Will lose if: She impersonates another classic R&B diva three times her age or more. Tina Turner and Etta James should be off-limits, although Aretha Franklin could work. Better to play it safe with more contemporary material, though.
Joshua Ledet: Take a soul stance
Could win if he can keep working those two sides of the classic soul singer formula: an uptempo raver to channel Otis Redding or Jackie Wilson and a strong ballad along the lines of last week's James Brown firestorm, It's a Man's Man's Man's World.
Will lose if another choir shows up in the middle of one of his bland inspirational ballads. That kind of thing was the undoing of last year's talented Jacob Lusk and could easily trip up Joshua. Song to avoid like the plague: I Believe I Can Fly.
Watch the show on Fox Wednesday and Thursday at 8 ET/PT.