With only one week to the finale, American Idol's remaining three contestants battled it on Wednesday night, each singing three songs.
The first round the contestants would sing songs selected for them by record producer Jimmy Iovine. Round Two songs were selected by the American Idol judges and Round Three songs were Idol Production Picks. (Please don't look to me for guidance on exactly what or who Idol Production Picks are, you'll only be disappointed to learn that I am as clueless as the rest of you.)
Round One: Jimmy Iovine's Picks
Kree Harrison started the show off with Jimmy's choice of the Pink song, "Perfect." Despite things coming down to the wire, Kree was still unable to really connect to the music. Keith Urban gave some tepid praise and Nicki Minaj suggested that Kree wear flats so she can actually move comfortably on stage. Randy Jackson said it fell flat and Mariah Carey suggested that Kree didn't give it her all because she was pacing herself because she still had two other performances ahead of her. Hmmm, not sure holding back is the wisest strategy at this stage. C+
Jimmy Iovine then saddled Candice Glover with U2's, "One." Candice can rarely do any wrong vocally but the song selection just didn't play to her strengths. A song with more intense, quiet soul would have really allowed her to shine. Nicki loved her performance, saying that it didn't feel like she was at American Idol but at Candice's show. Mariah then decided to illustrate just how removed she is from the real world when she asked why Candice ever worked as a travel agent and wasn't a professional singer instead. Gosh, why didn't Candice ever think of that? B-
Angie Miller's first song of the night was "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word." It was a great choice by Jimmy who obviously had his heart set on Angie playing the piano whilst singing, as did the judges, but Angie tricked them all and performed sans piano. The judges lamented her decision but still said she performed the song very well. Keith said that if Angie had held back even a little more it would have enhanced her performance. Hold back more. Angie should have that message tattooed on the other side of her ribcage. But nevertheless, with or without her piano, Angie stole Round One.
Round Two: Judges' Picks
Round Two began with Candice Glover's visit to her hometown of Helena Island, South Carolina. If there's one thing that American Idol does well, it's hometown visits and Candice's was no exception – just ask Nicki who was barely able to hold herself together as she gave Candice feedback on her performance of "Next To Me" by Emile Sandé. Nicki remarked that Candice would inspire women everywhere with her confidence and how she completely owns who she is. Randy added that the hometown visits were so touching because the judges could all identify with the struggle to become artists. Maybe he should remind Mariah, who was recently perplexed by Candice's choice to be a travel agent rather than a singer.
While Candice did sing in this round, compared to the emotion of her hometown visit and the judges' praise, the unfamiliar song seemed more like an afterthought and was quickly forgotten. But thanks to the modern technology of the rewind button Candice can still be assigned a grade for her second performance. B
It was then Angie Miller's turn to bring us all to tears, especially when she stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Jaho. Ugh, does she have any idea how hard it will be to find a table after all this publicity? (I can think of two perfectly adequate coffee shops in Beverly, Mass., but no, she had to come to Salem and disrupt the placidity of my routines – it's obviously payback for the more critical reviews that I have written this season.)
After bringing havoc to this neck of the woods, Angie obviously returned to Los Angeles revitalized because her rendition of "Try" by Pink was her best performance in weeks. Gone were the over-earnest attempts to convey emotion; they were replaced with an easy comfort on stage that made her believable and present. Add to that, some of her best vocals and it was clear that Angie is intent on making it to the end and after this performance it's easy to believe she could. A
Finally, Kree Harrison was ready to share her hometown visit and if they aren't emotional enough to begin with, Kree visiting the home where she grew up with her sister and retelling the sudden loss of both her parents within eight years of one another added even more poignancy to her Woodville, Texas, hometown package. There wasn't a dry eye on the judges panel when they cut back to the studio. Kree then took on the song "Here Comes Goodbye" by Chris Sligh/Rascal Flatts. Like Candice's performance, Kree's performance seemed secondary to the emotional quality of her trip home. B
Round Three: Idol Production Picks
Angie Miller, who dominated the first two rounds, was the first to perform the song selected for her by Idol Production Picks, "Maybe" by Emile Sandé. The song, the second of the night by Emile Sandé, didn't have the type of melody (or the familiarity) needed to capture our emotions. The judges all loved Angie's growth and claimed she became the whole package tonight. B-
Kree Harrison then performed (and I use that word generously since Kree once again lacked any life or vitality behind her eyes), "Better Dig Two," by The Band Perry. The judges weren't crazy about her performance saying it didn't feel right. Mariah said that she prefered Kree's sadness to her anger, and Nicki said that whoever picked that song for Kree should be stoned. (See? Even Nicki doesn't know who this Idol secret society is comprised of!) All in all, a performance like this was not the way a contestant wants to end such a critical night. C-
The last but certainly not least of the night was Candice Glover who sang, "Somewhere," and proved once again that the other girls can't hold a candle to Candice's vocal abilities. The judges were all on their feet for her - notably the only performance of the night that brought any of them to their feet. Keith exclaimed, "If you want to vote for Candice dial the number on your screen, if you don't want to vote for Candice, call your doctor, you probably don't have a pulse." This was the way a contestant should end her night. A
It's always difficult to imagine anyone having to depart after making it so far on the show but since someone will go, then predictions must be made. Based solely on the performances, the last two standing after Thursday's results show should be Candice and Angie but there's certainly room for an upset here. Kree, the only country singer left has an entire genre behind her, add to that a markedly emotional hometown visit and back story and you have a recipe for a shocking American Idol results show.
Who do you think will be the last two standing? Share your predictions in the comments below.