East Brunswick's Jax was eliminated from Fox's "American Idol" Tuesday, but she's blazed a path worth celebrating. We've picked out 16 milestones along the way.

Jax, her dog Jeter and her father John in the backyard of their East Brunswick home
Jax, her dog Jeter and her father John in the backyard of their East Brunswick home (Fox)

Starting with her unique version of the Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in her audition to her rocking "My Generation" that many call the best performance of the season, the 19-year-old will go against Nick Fradiani and Clark Beckham in a two-night finale that starts Tuesday night. "It's so weird being the only girl left.

The season finale of "American Idol" begins Tuesday night on Fox with the elimination of the third place candidate and performances by the final two. The winner will be announced during a two hour special on Wednesday packed with performances and appearances from a number of former contestants and Fall Out Boy, Pitbull, Jamie Foxx, Echosmith, Chris Brown, Ricky Martin, the Jacksons and NKOTB.

  • 1. Jax Auditions

    Jax begins her "American Idol:" journey with an audition in New York that aired in January. She caught the attention of the judges with her slowed-down performance of the Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand."

  • 2. Her top 24 Performance

    Hello top 24 of @AmericanIdol! Love you guys. Feeling so blessed,” tweeted the 18-year-old after her performance of Lady Gaga’s “You and I” at the House of Blues in Hollywood.  Keith Urban understood the special twists Jax puts on her performances but Jennifer Lopez wasn't quite on board yet.
  • 3. Her Dennis & Judi appearance

    Back in New Jersey, Jax and her dad stopped by for an in-studio visit with Dennis and Judi. She dished on what it was like to be a part of American Idol and instantly recognizable out in public. She also talked about how supportive her parents have been of her musical dreams and even performed the theme from "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

  • 4. Stepping up to the sweet 16

    "American Idol" made a stop in Detroit, where Jax made the top 16 with her own jazzy spin on the Motown classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough."  She also wore a blue version of "the blue/gold dress" that went viral in dozens of "What-color-is-this-dress?" posts.

  • 5. Moving on to the top 12

    Jax again performed her audition song, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," sitting at a grand piano. She seemed to win over Perez, who declared the performance "really, really great.” Jax herself was amazed at her progress. “Still feels unreal – I’ve grown every day, and I’m excited to revisit my audition song,” she tweeted during the show. “Feeling so blessed right now. My entire body is shaking. Thank you, guys for pushing me towards my dream. I never imagined going this far.”

  • 6. Hanging on to the top 11

    The week was not one of Jax's best, as she performed the Taylor Swift hit "Blank Space." Keith Urban, always her booster, felt she had struggled with the song and advised her to next choose something that would let her just “be Jax.”

  • 7. Breaking into the top 10

    Jax found her footing with Adam Sandler's "Grow Old With You" from "The Wedding Singer."  Harry Connick Jr. summed up the judges reactions by calling her a “high risk, high reward” type of performer and praised the  "sweet and personable” result. A nervous Jax had to wait until the end of the show to learn she made the cut. ”Ok. That was stressful. We love you,” tweeted her parents.

  • 8. Advancing to the top 9

    Jax did one of her most memorable "Idol" performances to Bon Jovi's :"You Give Love a Bad Name." She wore a leather jacket with graffiti, black T-shirt, torn pants and green gloves and big hair ’80s style. She gave the song a quiet start and a rock star finish kicking away the piano bench and holding her microphone. The performance won approval from all three judges. Her parents were joined in the audience by Miss New Jersey Teen USA, Jacqueline Giancola, a senior at East Brunswick High School, who tweeted her support

  • 9. Making it to the top 8

    The first "American Idol" winner, Kelly Clarkson, was the night's mentor and her praise of Jax’s past “Idol” performances floored the East Brunswick singer. “Kelly Clarkson just called me good,” she squealed. Jax picked “Beautiful Disaster,” an album cut from the first “American Idol” champion’s debut album from 2004, as her performance song. In rehearsal, Clarkson told Jax:  “Honestly, just do it like that, and if anyone says anything tell them Kelly Clarkson says you’re wrong."

  • 10 A 'Poker Face' for the top 7

    Jax did another Lady Gaga hit, "Poker Face," and gave it her own jazzy spin. Acknowledging that she had the audience “in the palm of your hand,” Lopez warned: “there’s a line where it gets dangerous” and listeners can’t “relate.” But producer Red One, who produced “Poker Face” for Lady Gaga, tweeted his approval of Jax’s version. “I’m so exited to watch @Jax performing the Global HIT I did with my partner in crime,” he tweeted. “Let’s go Jax!!!,” a message retweeted by Gaga herself.

  • 11. Jax's Egg-cellent Video

    During another in-studio visit with Dennis & Judi, Jax confided she was quick to take dares that she sometimes regretted. She challenged her "Jax Pack" of fans to send her pictures of their colored Easter eggs to grow her Twitter followers. She promised to pick 5 randomly and announce the names in a YouTube video. She wound up picking 7 and making good on her promise.


  • 12. Piece of her heart for the Top 6

    On American Classics night, Jax first did Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” backed up by a wind machine and a live band. The judges were again impressed. Her second song was also the show’s biggest charting hit of the night: a rocking version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It," as she ran around the stage and high-fived fans. “I always wanted to see you run around like a complete idiot and have fun," Harry Connick Jr. said. "We do that for a living. It was really really fun.”

  • 13. No jinx here, just the top 5

    Jax opened  with Jet’s  “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (which she changed to “guy”), wearing a white T-shirt, black fringe jacket and short-shorts and high-fiving her fans. “Wow! That’s how you open a show!” gushed judge Keith Urban. Jax’s second performance of the night, in a white dress, was a calm, quiet rendition of “White Flag” by British artist Dido. “That was beautiful for you," Lopez said.

  • 14. From Nashville to the top 4

    First up for Jax on the “Judge’s hometown” part of the show was Alicia Keys’ “Empire State Of Mind” which Lopez criticized. While giving Jax a vote of confidence that she could win the competition, she questioned the song choice. “I wasn’t feeling it,” Lopez said. “You need to really be careful in the songs you choose from now on.” Jax’s second song of the night, for the “I am what I am” theme was an introspective performance of Christina Perri’s “Human,” which included the 19-year-old falling to her knees. Despite “pitch problems all over the place,” Connick said she “completely let herself go,” which he said “ultimately trumps everything else.”

  • 15. Homecoming celebration

    Jax returned home to East Brunswick and got a warm welcome that included a visit to her former school, Hammarskjold Middle School, a parade and a special concert. Before the celebrations kicked off, Dennis and Judi got to speak with Jax as she was traveling from New York. Jax told Dennis and Judi that she hadn't been given too many details about the coming day’s events, so she was excited to see what was in store for her.

  • 16. Gutsy performance for the top 3

    Jax made the top 3 and the season finale with 2 stong performances as she overcame a case of laryngitis. Draped in the Union Jack, she did The Who’s classic “My Generation,” selected by show mentor Scott Borchetta as “the original punk song.” Keith Urban called her rendition “freaking awesome” and her “best performance” of the season. Jax then toned it down with the Evanescence song “My Immortal,” in memory of Spotswood High School student Jeff Szatkowski and his girlfriend who died together in a 2013 car crash.

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