Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina Compete in American Idol Finale

At the start of the final showdown at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre, Ryan Seacrest described the faceoff between Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina as “the boy-next-door versus the Southern belle.”

Lauren, unfortunately, had also been doing battle with her own voice – or, more accurately, her voice had been doing battle with her.

Lauren Alaina Lost Voice Before American Idol Finals

The drama and suspense for the American Idol finale started early Tuesday.

Lauren Alaina, 16, lost her voice and couldn’t finish rehearsals, prompting producers to bring in third-place finisher Haley Reinhart as a possible last-minute replacement.

But after resting her voice, Alaina felt ready to compete in the teen showdown against 17-year-old Scotty McCreery.

“I’m here, I’m ready to sing. I’m fine, don’t worry about it,” she said on stage in a hoarse voice.

Haley Reinhart: 'I Don't Live in Regret'

When Haley Reinhart sang the line “So stick around, you’re gonna hear electric music” from “Bennie and the Jets,” she had no doubt in her mind that she would be doing just that sticking around.

But after her long run on American Idol, the Chicago native, who had wound up in the bottom three four times this season, was eliminated on Wednesday night.

American Idol: Who's Going to the Finale?

It’s finale time!

Thursday night, American Idol’s top three contestants – Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery and Haley Reinhart – faced the last elimination before next week’s big finale, where one will be named the season 10 champ.

Keep reading to find out who will compete and who was thisclose to the big night but didn’t make it.

American Idol: Who Should Go Home?

So, who deserves a spot in the finale?

American Idol’s final three – Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery and Haley Reinhart – gave it their all on Wednesday. And by the end of the night’s three rounds, there wasn’t much between them.

The judges gave round one to Haley, who didn’t let a little stumble get in the way of her rocking performance of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”

Round two went to Scotty for his rendition of Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.”

American Idol's Final Three Give It Their All

The two-hour show was partitioned into three rounds.

The singers got to pick what they wanted to perform, with mentoring hints from the lovely Beyoncé. Then they sang a selection by producer Jimmy Iovine and, finally, a selection by the judges.

Read on to see how the three American Idol finalists did.

Idol Haley Reinhart Greeted by Crowds (in the Rain)

It rained on Haley Reinhart’s parade, but that couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the American Idol finalist’s hometown visit on Saturday.

Returning to an unseasonably cold and unrelentingly rainy Wheeling, Ill., Reinhart remained upbeat and grateful, tearing up at nearly every stop as hundreds, sometimes thousands, of sign-waving, clapping, screaming fans lined a parade route and cheered her on throughout the day.

“I feel a sense of such appreciation,” Reinhart told PEOPLE, “So I feel like I’ve already won.”

American Idol's Top Three: Who Will Win?

And then there were three.

With James Durbin shockingly out of the running as of Thursday night, Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina are left vying for the season 10 title on American Idol.

As the remaining contestants return to their hometowns for what’s sure to be an emotional episode next week, Idol fans may still be scratching their heads and wondering who will win.

American Idol Reveals Top Three!

Ryan Seacrest put Wednesday night’s vote at 72 million, the highest ever for a top four – a quartet on the cusp of being reduced to a trio who’ll be celebrated by their hometowns on next week’s show.

It turned out that Randy Jackson’s recent prediction was inaccurate: James, the high-decibel rocker with the highly emotional back-story, was eliminated after being in the bottom two with country guy Scotty.

American Idol: Haley Reinhart's Roller-Coaster Ride

Thematically, Wednesday’s American Idol show was a jackalope, a hybrid creature that didn’t make much sense.