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'American Idol': The final two standing are...

May 17, 2012 |  9:43 pm

Throughout the 11th season of “American Idol” he’s been called “one of the top two best 'Idols' of all time” by Steven Tyler and one of the best singers Jennifer Lopez has “seen in 50 years.”

Now, he’s a third-place finisher.

Louisiana soul singer Joshua Ledet was sent home by “American Idol” viewers in the show’s semifinals week. Ledet’s exit sets up a finale between acoustic strummer Phillip Phillips and diva-in-waiting Jessica Sanchez.

“American Idol” will come to a close next week, with performances between the two finalists taking place on Tuesday and a winner being crowned on Wednesday. San Diego’s Jessica Sanchez is just 16, but she’s been championed by the “Idol” judges all season, earning the trio’s “save” when viewers tried to send her home on April 13.

"This girl is one of the best singers in America, ever," Randy Jackson gushed after the judges vetoed voters and kept her on the show.

Phillips, a 21 year-old from Georgia, has stayed true to his rock 'n' roll roots all season, usually appearing tethered to his acoustic guitar as he tackled songs from the likes of the Box Tops, the Zombies, Jonny Lang and the Dave Matthews Band. The latter was a sly wink to the judges and viewers, as Phillips has been compared to Matthews since first appearing on the show.

He wowed the judges on Tuesday when he showed his tender side, tackling Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" sans guitar.

L.A. Times readers called the final two right in voting that has taken place over the last eight weeks in our "Idol" vs. "The Voice" poll. The poll has pitted the hopefuls on Fox against their counterparts on NBC, where former backup singer Jermaine Paul emerged the victor earlier this month.

Of more than 300,000 reader votes cast, San Diego-native Sanchez, has drawn about 99,000. Phillips is in second with 37,500.

Our readers got Ledet's third-place finish right -- he had nearly 26,000 votes in our poll.

Do you think readers' predictions will hold for next week's finale? Will Sanchez emerge the first female winner since Jordin Sparks in 2007 or is Phillips going to keep the boys' streak alive?

The poll below includes the top 15 reader vote-getters. Vote for your favorites and check back Friday to see who tops the chart and where our experts stand on the talent after watching all season.


Full coverage: 'American Idol'

'American Idol' recap: The top three vie for the finale

'American Idol' recap: Hollie Cavanagh ousted, three remain

'American Idol' vs. 'Voice': Jessica Sanchez better than Jermaine Paul?

-- Todd Martens and Megan Garvey

Photo: From left are "American Idol's" final three: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox