Wednesday, May 8, 2013

American Idol Season 12 • Top 3 Review & Recap

Last week, the Top 4 became the Top 3 when Amber Holcombe went home, leaving Kree Harrison, Angie Miller and Candice Glover to make the hometown visits and prepare three songs for tonight. Each young woman was assigned a song by the judges, one from Jimmy Iovine, and a third by the producers, leaving them no choice of their own. Can they make all the appearances that are scheduled, and still learn and rehearse the songs they need to perform? Only time will tell, and we are certainly doing time on American Idol this season.

American Idol Season 12 Top 3 photo AmericanIdol12Top3_zps5c5b3a82.jpg
Left to right: Angie Miller, Candice Glover, and Kree Harrison.

The judges were introduced, followed by Crusty, who soon brings out the Top 3. One will be crowned the new American Idol next week, and all are hungry for the win. But first, we see quick clips of them visiting their home towns, with the crowds there to greet them all. The first round will be the picks of Jimmy Iovine, and the show kicks off with Kree singing “Perfect” by Pink.

Kree comes out in fine voice, and does a great job with the song. I feel the message coming from her heart, and enjoyed it. Keith was oddly vacant in his critique, instead sort of questioning the song choice, but glad she always sounds Country. Nicki was anything but neutral, instead telling Kree she was great, and seemed more relaxed than last week. But she also suggested Kree try some flat boots so she can move around the stage more. Randy was not impressed, and felt the performance was flat, but Mariah thought she sounded good, but felt she might have been holding back a bit, since she has two more to go. After the break, it is time for Candice to perform, and Jimmy picked “One”, the U2 song also covered by the great Mary J. Blige.

Candice came out ready to give it her all. While I love her energy, and did feel like the song was a bit short, and she spent part of the time yelling at me. There were also a few bad notes in there, which is never the case. I love her, but thought that fell just a tad short. Nicki loved her, and thought she was on par with Mary J. Randy thought she was wonderful, didn't mind some bad notes, and was on her way to the finals. Mariah loved it, wants Candice to believe in herself as much as she believes in her. Keith loved it, and thought she once again proved the power of her voice. And the bad notes proved how much she wanted to win. All mentioned they loved the song choice by Jimmy, something they did not say about the choice for Kree. The final selection by Jimmy Iovine was for Angie, who will be singing Elton John's “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”.

Right away, I am shocked she is not on the piano, for that is a shoe in for the judges' approval. She is in the middle of the stage singing amidst smoke and violinists. For me she is spending an awful lot of the song going flat, with an occasional foray into the sharp end. I thought it was a bit sloppy, and struggling. Randy started it all by questioning why she didn't play the piano. But despite that, he loved her, no matter how she sounded. Mariah loved it, and was happy for her restraint. Keith loved it, but wished she was even more restrained. Nicki thought it was a stellar vocal, but the emotions were lacking, which meant she was in it to win it. Confused, I decided to move on. Between the rounds, Jimmy is on camera, and decides the round has to go to Angie, for he thought she connected emotionally to the song. Again, I opt to move on. Now we see a bit of Candice's trip home, and she is thrilled to visit her old boss, and starts to cry as she is close to home. The streets are lined with people, all there to show their love. Candice is the first to sing the Judge's pick, as she takes on Emile Sandé's “Next To Me”.

This is an excellent choice, and she sounds wonderful on it. But somewhere in the middle, I feel like she is off a bit, although she gathers it together at the end. Mariah leads it off, and says almost nothing about the performance, but how Candice was rejuvenated by the trip home. Keith loved the opening, and the end, and thought they were wonderful. Nicki was so moved, she only tells her she is so proud of her. Randy pats American Idol on the back, and in an afterthought, tells Candice she was awesome. Crusty goes back to Nicki, who tells Candice she loves the confidence she shows, which is tough for women of all colors to keep. Tears flow all around. Angie is up after a prolonged commercial break, and she is joined by her brother, who is growing a 'playoff' beard, not shaving until she wins. They played together while she was home, and that leads to her clips. She goes all over her home town, from her kindergarten school to her very special concert. When the tape was done, Crusty announced Angie would be singing “Try” by Pink.

To my ears, her voice still falls flat far too often. And I found this performance to be trying too hard, but going nowhere. I thought she was stiff on stage, and trying to be a bit over sexualized. I was really unimpressed. Keith loved it, and thought she never looked more comfortable on stage. Huh? Oh, and he also threw in the ubiquitous 'Boston Strong' shout-out at the end. Nicki thought the same thing, and loved her. Randy thought the judges again picked a great song, and she was at her best. Mariah also loved her, and gets her festive personality, for Mariah thinks she herself is also festive. Okay, I have no clue what the hell that means, so I just will have to move on. The final contestant for this round is Kree, and we quickly see her giving hugs as soon as she gets off the plane. Soon they visit the home she grew up in, now fallen to pieces after the loss of both parents. It was quite an emotional journey. After the clip, she sings “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts, and co-written by former Idol finalist Chris Sligh.

She is on her game for the song. She sounds plugged in and connected to the emotion, and in amazing form. The audience loved it, and kept the ovation rolling. Nicki was almost in tears, just saying how she was proud of her, and it was her best of the season. Randy loved it, and once again congratulates the judges for picking the song. And, yes, she was good. Mariah was clearly moved by the video and the performance, yet instead just told Kree how impressed she was with her as a person, and the purity of her voice. Keith was still a little choked up, sniffing big before thanking Kree for singing that song perfectly. Now it is time for another long break, and the ladies will be in the last phase of the night, the Producer's picks. Angie is first this time, and she will be singing “Maybe” by Emile Sandé. This is the second song poached from this British songbird, who is a talented lady indeed.

This time, Angie is at the piano, although she doesn't seem to play until the bridge. And she sounds very breathy to me. The chorus goes quite flat for me, and after knowing the original, showed a lack of soulfulness inherent to the melody. Randy loved it, and was happy she was back at the piano. Mariah loved it, and thinks she is the complete package. Keith loved it, and passed to Nicki. She thought Angie has surpassed her expectations, and loved her. She listed some of the faults of the past, like the pageant-like presentations, the failure to emotionally connect, and I just laugh that all that makes one third of the best Top 3 ever. Next! After the achingly long break, it is time for Kree to give her final performance of the evening. The producers mandate she sings “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry.

Kree is comfortable in the strong Country sound of the song. She sounds wonderful, and I loved it. This was Country realness, served with a little Southern-Fried-Rock. She owned it, and wore it proud. Mariah didn't love it, for she likes the soulful side more. Uhm, she didn't pick the song, she just sang it. Keith thought it wasn't the right song for her, but he loves her. [Cough, Cough] Kree didn't pick the song. Nicki finally called it, and said whoever picked the song for her should be stoned. And that the judges and her fans all know she is a star. Randy goes on to insult the song, being way to plain and boring for her voice. Nice, sure they are happy they gave permission for that song, right? A long break, and we are back, and Candice is going to sing “Somewhere” from the iconic musical 'West Side Story', written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Here is the version by Barbra Streisand.

This is a glorious song, there is no doubt about it. And Candice is an amazing singer. But that performance had some flaws, to be sure. Her voice broke on two of the runs, and seemed strained at times. I am stunned for her tonight, as for me, this was her weakest night to date. However, Keith thinks that anyone who doesn't vote for Candice needs to see the doctor, and Nicki thinks she is a shoe-in for the finals. Randy called that one of the best performances in Idol history, the second he has called so far this season. Mariah loved her, of course. Jimmy Iovine came out to explain that although he felt Angie won round 1, and Kree took round 2, with that performance, Candice won the night with her miraculous version of a tired old song. We get it. Idol thinks Candice should be in the finals, and win the season. But that is no reason to toss Kree under the bus the way they have tonight, when she clearly out performed Angie. When all is said and done, for my ears, it is Angie who should be going home tomorrow night, and Candice and Kree in the finals. That said, I will not be doing a recap for the finals next week, as I have tickets to drink in the performances of musicians I love, with nary a judge to be seen. So Tune in Thursday night at 8PM on Fox for the results, and next week for the finals. If you miss me, I will be cover The Voice for the rest of the season. Until next time, have fun, and listen to some great music of original and/or independent artists! Support musicians who create the soundtrack to our lives.

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