The judges didn’t back the soulful 27-year-old musician from Fort Worth, Texas, on the singing contest Tuesday, the final showdown before next week’s season finale. His mellow renditions of Eric Hutchinson’s “OK, It’s Alright With Me” and John Mayer’s “Daughters,” which was selected by Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson, drew little praise from the panel.

“If you were having dinner, that’s the salad,” Simon Cowell said of his “Alright” song choice.

Instead, the judges were wowed by Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, the other two remaining finalists. Bowersox, the 24-year-old musician from Toledo, Ohio, beguiled with her selection, Melissa Etheridge’s “Come To My Window,” as well as Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a tune hand-picked by Ellen DeGeneres that inspired Bowersox to strut across the stage.

“You may be thanking Ellen for putting you in the final,” declared Cowell.