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'American Idol' Season 12: Candice Glover soars, but will she go home?

"American Idol's" final three from left, Angie Miller,

"American Idol's" final three from left, Angie Miller, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison. (May 2, 2013) (Credit: Fox)

This is what “American Idol” does best.

Most of the show’s problems faded away last night, as the focus shifted away from the comments from outsiders and the judges’ odd bickering back to the contestants for Hometown Visit Week. When (is “if” actually possible?) producers retool “Idol” in the off-season to try to reverse its ratings collapse, they should remember this show and go back to the contestants’ lives.

Even flighty Angie Miller — or as Mariah Carey called her “festive” — became far more likable after we got to see where she came from and what she was like for a chunk of time longer than a sound bite. In fact, Angie actually seemed to fight her way into the finale with a trio of inspired performances that made up for a whole lot of iffy weeks.

Her swaggering, inspirational version of Pink’s “Try” may have been her best performance since the original song she did way back in Hollywood Week that changed everyone’s mind about her. She also benefitted from good song choices by Jimmy Iovine, though she did kind of blow it by not performing “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” at the piano, and by the producers, who gave her Emeli Sande’s “Maybe,” which she also hammered home.

Angie may be the weakest of the three remaining singers, but last night she had more of a spark than Kree Harrison, who got saddled with two terrible song choices.

“Whoever picked that song for you should be stoned,” said Nicki Minaj, after Kree’s OK performance of The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” chosen by the producers. Subject matter aside, the song doesn’t suit her pretty country style at all and didn’t offer her a chance to belt out anything. Iovine’s choice for her wasn’t much better, as Pink’s “Perfect” felt like a mismatch from the start that she could never quite get past. Yes, an “Idol” should be able to take any song and make it their own, but what happened to Kree was very close to sabotage. If she sticks around, it will be on the strength of her gorgeous version of Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye” and the powerful backstory we got to see when she went home to Texas.

Though my heart is 100 percent behind Candice Glover, especially after seeing her tear-filled return home to South Carolina, my head tells me she is going home tonight. Even though she is flat-out the season’s best singer, the demographics of “Idol” voters and the type of music where she excels are both factors against her. (Kree obviously has the show's massive country vote locked up and Angie is far more appealing to all those text-happy tweens.) Candice's case wasn’t helped by this week’s song choices either — though it did seem that the picks were well-intentioned.

She seemed uncharacteristically unprepared for Iovine’s pick of U2’s “One,” which should have been a gimme for her considering the Mary J. Blige version. However, Iovine said she had never heard the song before it was assigned to her and it showed in her uncertain performance, where too many runs didn’t land quite right. The judges’ decision to give her Emile Sande’s “Next to Me” to show that she could be on the charts right now didn’t quite sit right either, as she never quite mastered the song’s unusual rhythm.

However, Candice was so great on “Somewhere” that it would be an embarrassment to “Idol” if she didn’t move forward. She went from soulful to soaring and back again on the “West Side Story” classic and still made it feel current. She is a master and someone — if not the “Idol” folks — will make her a star. The judges were beside themselves, giving her the only standing ovation of the night and Randy Jackson calling it one of the best performances in the show’s history.

“If you want to vote for Candice, call the number on your screen,” said Keith Urban. “If you don’t want to vote for Candice, call your doctor because you probably don’t have a pulse.”

Nicki Minaj said, “Four words: See ya next week.”

We’ll see if they’re right.

 

THE RANKINGS
Candice Glover, “Somewhere”
Angie Miller, “Try”
Kree Harrison, “Here Comes Goodbye”
Angie Miller, “Maybe”
Angie Miller, “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word”
Candice Glover, “Next to Me”
Kree Harrison, “Better Dig Two”
Candice Glover, “One”
Kree Harrison, “Perfect”

TOP TWO: Candice, Angie
ACTUAL TOP TWO: ???

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