The final two singers on American Idol were revealed on Thursday as one contestant was eliminated.
Jena Irene will battle it out with Caleb Johnson to be crowned the next American Idol after Alex Preston was left behind.
The shy singer just missed out at a shot for the title.
Finalists revealed: Caleb Johnson, Jena Irene and Alex Preston are shown on Thursday before one of them was eliminated from American Idol
‘Unfortunately it’s the end of the line for one of them tonight,’ host Ryan Seacrest said before announcing the two finalists.
‘All of you guys are so talented. So first off, thank you for what you’ve done for us this season,’ he told them.
The top three put their arms around one another as the studio lights dimmed and Ryan revealed that the first person who will compete in next week’s finale was 17-year-old Jena.
The judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr received a warm welcome from the American Idol audience
She looked absolutely stunned and hugged Caleb as her mother and brother watched tearfully off-stage.
‘I love you too, man,’ Caleb told Alex as they hugged and nervously waited the results.
As the lights went down again, Ryan said: ‘The person who will battle it out with Jena next week and could be the next American Idol is … Caleb Johnson!’
It was a bittersweet moment for Jena and Caleb and judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.
Cute pooch: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest brought his new puppy to the show
The judges looked happy for the rocker but saddened that talented Alex’s journey had come to an end.
They gave Alex a standing ovation as they said farewell to the crestfallen singer.
‘Think of how much you’ve accomplished and all the things you’ve done in the last three months,’ Ryan told him as viewers saw his best-of reel showing his time on the show.
Alex performed one last time singing his song Fairytales as his watching father cried and all the judges stood and swayed to the ballad.
Caleb and Jena came on stage at the end to hug him, as did his family and the other families.
At the start of the live episode Ryan took to the stage holding a small black Labrador puppy.
‘This is my new addition, Georgia. It’s her first live show and I’m more nervous than she is,’ he said as the crowd let out a collective ‘awwwww’.
Keith Urban wore a ‘Rock the Vote’ T-shirt while Harry Connick Jr got dressed up in a three piece suit.
And Jennifer Lopez looked stunning as ever, showing off her famous curves in a glittery Pucci dress.
‘It’s like hashtag beaded Egyptian princess,’ Harry said of her look.
‘I didn’t think you were ready for a puppy,’ Jennifer told Ryan.
Earlier the top three discussed the performance on Wednesday night’s show.
‘I can’t believe you went on stage sick as a dog and still killed it,’ Jena told Caleb after the show.
‘I just had to do something because my voice was gone,’ Caleb said of his microphone-smashing stunt.
And all three wondered if Harry would finally get out of his chair while they perform in the finale.
The trio dubbed themselves BFFs – best friends forever – for life thanks to their bonding on the show.
Meanwhile mentor Randy Jackson said Jena’s version of Creep by Radiohead was ‘amazing’.
But he admitted it was tough for voters to pick a winner.
‘How do you choose?’ he said.
Viewers also saw how the contestants’ home town visits went.
‘It was pretty insane,’ said teenager Jena after she went back to Farmington Hills, Michigan.
She flew back where her family and two dogs were waiting for her, before a whirlwind media tour, and a return to the Hercules restaurant where she was working as a waitress before she shot to Idol fame.
Dozens of fans held masks with Jena’s face on them as they waited for her outside.
She even waited on tables inside – serving the Greek eatery’s famous ‘flaming cheese’.
Her grandparents fought back tears as she arrived home.
‘Oh my God,’ she said as she lay down on her own bed for the first time in months.
And she showed off her home studio where she played a keyboard and sang before a parade took her to her high school, North Farmington High, where the mayor gave her the keys to the city.
At a private show for the seniors later that evening they all held up neon glowsticks as the lights went out.
She cried as she realized what an impact she had made.
‘I want to win for them now,’ she said.
‘That to me is the beauty of the show,’ said Ryan afterward as he recalled her grandfather crying.
‘That’s why I like hosting this show.’
He then revealed she would be singing with Paramore on next week’s finale.
Jena looked lost for words.
‘I’m freaking out right now!’ she said.
Viewers later saw 21-year-old Alex sharing his journey back to Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, which he said was ‘the craziest thing ever’.
He started his day with a 7am radio interview as his parents listened in at home.
‘That’s a lot of people,’ he said as he pulled up and his grandmother paid tribute to him.
His old high school band Undertow also showed up, while a local official announced that May 10 would now be known as ‘Alex Preston Day’ in his home state before he played for his local fans.
Jennifer looked emotional as she watched the tape back in the studio, as Alex took part in a massive parade.
‘I am so proud of you,’ his mother told him.
Back in the studio Ryan told him that he would be singing with his idol Jason Mraz on the finale.
‘That’s crazy,’ said Alex.
Caleb, 23, also had an ‘awesome’ trip home back to Asheville, North Carolina.
‘The amount of good vibes right now is just palpable,’ the Meat Loaf lookalike said as he hit the streets.
And he stunned students at the local Rock Academy when he arrived unannounced, where he signed autographs, before doing a radio interview and heading home.
‘You suck,’ his younger brother Houston told him jokingly. ‘Terrible. And I’m not drunk either.’
He also stopped by the landmark Biltmore Estate where he played their organ and later played a gig for his home fans.
The town’s mayor also proclaimed the day Caleb Johnson Day for the city.
Caleb also took to the roads in a beat-up red van that he used to drive to his shows and took part in a parade.
And back in the studio his ‘little’ brother Houston – even bigger than Caleb – jumped when his sibling jokingly patted him on the rear as they watched the tape.
‘This is my little brother, guys,’ he said, as Houston bent down to make himself smaller.
And Caleb jumped into his arms when Ryan told him he would perform with rock legends KISS on next week’s finale show.
‘This is his favorite band,’ Caleb said of Houston.
‘CALEB is performing with KISS,’ Ryan told Houston, in case he got too excited.
‘He’s going to come on with the demon wings,’ Caleb joked.
Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery also performed.
The 20-year-old country star performed his latest single Feelin’ It.
Afterwards, he showed off the lipstick kiss marks that J-Lo left after smooching him on the cheek.
‘Look how perfect that is,’ said Ryan.
‘I’m feeling it brother,’ he said.
‘You know Scotty, J-Lo likes younger guys,’ Ryan said.
‘What the!’ said 44-year-old Jen.
‘Really? I’m not the only one. I mean, not guys!’ she said hastily.
Ryan, 39, most recently dated 25-year-old Julianne Hough.
And the top three revealed sneak clips of their potential first singles as they drove around in a segment sponsored by Ford.
There was also a promo section for the upcoming Idol summer tour featuring this season’s top contestants.