Damn those mediocre ratings and full speed ahead!
Some of us, after all, are still watching "American Idol," and there's no shame in that. Really.
Besides, it's Top 3 Week, which is HUGE, and we've got the highly cherished hometown visits, which means lots of tears streaming, like rivers, down puffy faces, and runny mascara, and gobs of Kleenex. .... And you just know that makes for good TV!
Our trio of Candice Glover, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison will tackle three songs apiece -- one a choice from Jimmy Iovine, another a Judge's Choice and finally a pick from the producers (What, no contestant's choice? Lame).
If all the pundits are right, this is the best, most closely matched Top 3 ever, so we expect an epic showdown. Hey, it better be great because we're missing the Warriors game for this.
On with it:
-- Kree Harrison (Pink's "Perfect"): Kree has to be considered the underdog coming into tonight's showdown, so she can't afford any slip-ups. But we're not sure if this countrified version of Pink's hit is doing her any major favors. It's kind of forgettable and forgettable isn't what she needs at this point. Keith Urban seems to question the song choice, but doesn't come right out and say it sucked. Instead, he notes that Kree has a "signature sound" that was very apparent. (Way to commit, Keith). Nicki Minaj likes the "easygoing Kreedom feel" of the song, and then suggests she wear flat boots (Huh?). Randy Jackson says he didn't love the song -- that it didn't have a lot of "pizazz" and it came off a little "flat." Mariah Carey, who is showing off a little midriff tonight, suggests that Kree might be holding back a bit and wants to see more as the night wears on. So not a great start for our underdog.
-- Candice Glover (U2's "One"): We've got Candice as our leader coming into the week. For her not to make the final will take a major misstep. I've always loved this song (Remember Adam Lambert's version?). Candice, as usual, gives it her all, bringing the power and the drama (Bono, we think, would approve). Nicki loves the song selection -- giving a shout-out to Mary J. Blige's version, not U2's, which is rather ridiculous -- and says Candice is a diva who did it justice. Randy, likewise, is impressed. ("I don't know if everything was perfect, but the emotion was on point."). Mariah and Keith also love the song choice, though Keith does point out that it did get sharp at a few points because her adrenaline was raging. Ryan Seacrest informs us that Candice had never heard of the song before this week.
-- Angie Miller (Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"): How interesting: This is a piano standard and there is someone on the piano, but it ain't Angie. Instead, she's standing in a major fog bank and surrounded by a bunch of violinists. Her voice soars on this number. Very smooth and melodic. Randy thinks she did a great job of holding back. Mariah feels it's one of Angie's best performances -- that she lost herself in the song. Keith says Angie's voice is "spectacular," but says the song could have had more emotional oomph is she had held back even a little more. Nicki agrees with Keith, but says Angie is "bringing it to win this competition."
As for Jimmy's assessment, he gives Round 1 to Angie.
-- Candice Glover (Emeli Sande's "Next to Me"): Candice takes us back to St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where she, of course, gets a hero's welcome, rides a moped and visits her family for the first time in four months. Cue the waterworks, hugs and kisses. She calls it the "best day of my life ever." Then it's back to the studio for the song, which she slays with lively flair. Mariah gives it an "A+ amazing" and thinks Candice was rejuvenated by her trip home. Keith says Candice was in the zone "melodically riffing." Nicki is emotional, choking up as she tells Candice how prouds she is of her. Randy simply calls it "amazing" and points out how "Idol" is so great because it enables people like Candice to come from out of nowhere to the brink of stardom.
-- Angie Miller (Pink's "Try"): It's back to Beverly, Mass. for Angie. But first a stop at a Boston TV station and a trip past the Boston Marathon finish line, where Angie gets choked up seeing all the "Boston Strong" signs. More tears flow in her old stamping grounds. Bursting with joy and charisma, Angie is digging it all. That toothy smile is more blinding than ever. As for the song, it's a chance for Angie to rock out and work the stage, which she does better than both Candice and Kree. She loves the spotlight, this girl. And Keith loves her, saying she has never looked as comfortable doing an up-tempo song. Nicki totally agrees, comparing Angie to Miley Cyrus. Randy says it sounded "amazing" and that the song fit Angie like a glove. Mariah concurs.
-- Kree Harrison (Rascal Flatts' "Here Comes Goodbye"): Now, it's off to Kree country in Woodville, Texas. There's a Crawfish Boil and a visit, with her sister, to the house where they grew up. There, they share some gut-wrenching memories of their lost parents. Then a parade and a concert. So much Texas love for Kree. As for the judge's song, it plays right into Kree's country wheelhouse. She nails it with ease and grace -- and emotion. The crowd loves it. Nicki is touched again. "You can't underestimate or deny the power of a true, genuine emotional trigger," Nicki says, admiring Kree's resilience being so young without parents. Randy calls it "unbelievably beautiful." Mariah agrees, and Keith calls it the perfect song: "You had me from beginning to end."
Jimmy says Angie and Kree were neck-and-neck during that round, but questions the song choice for Candice. It was a little too subtle, he says, before giving the round to Kree.
-- Angie Miller (Emeli Sande's "Maybe"): Angie's back at the piano and she's right at home. A solid performance that Angie conquers without the kind of theatricality she has been criticized for in the past. Randy says that, tonight, Angie became a "complete performer." Mariah points out that it wasn't an easy song to sing and that Angie was "there and present." Keith says Angie has found her groove, and Nicki says she has come full circle. "My God, your growth has surpassed my expectations, Miss Lady," she says.
-- Kree Harrison (The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two"): OK, now, Kree's having fun on this up-tempo number that has our feet tapping. But it doesn't exactly please the judges. It's the "wild side" of Kree, points out Mariah, who adds that "I like the sorrow more than the anger." Keith likes the song, but tells Kree, "I don't know if that's the place for you." Nicki is even more adamant, pointing out that it wasn't in Kree's comfort zone. "Whoever picked that for you should be stoned," she snarls. Randy calls it "too ordinary."
-- Candice Glover ("Somewhere" from West Side Story): This is a rather odd choice if the goal is to make Candice come off as a contemporary star. But it's a great choice to showcase her vocal awesomeness. Basically, she blows the roof off the place. Beautiful! Keith is absolutely floored: "If you don't vote for Candice, call your doctor because you don't have a pulse." Nicki: "Four words: See you next week." Randy calls it "incredible" -- a "singing lesson." "Thanks again for making me cry, yet again," Mariah says.
So who won the night? If you believe Jimmy, he leans toward Candice. Agree or disagree? Let us know who you think will be in next week's finale.