Welcome to the live blog and recap for the Top 3 Performance Show of American Idol Season 12!
Tonight, the top 3 tackle three songs apiece: one selected by the judges, another selected by Jimmy Iovine, and a third selected by the producers. You can check out the song spoilers here, if you’re curious. Should be an interesting show.
Also, don’t forget to participate in the Coca-Cola Perfect Harmony contest. We’ll be giving away prizes of our own to a few lucky readers!
Enjoy the show, and hit up the comments section to share your thoughts!
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-Back from break with the final performance…
CANDICE GLOVER closes the show!
-The producers gave her “Somewhere” from West Side Story. To the surprise of absolutely no one, this is outstanding. In a development that’s even less surprising, the judges are rising to their feet before the song is even over. Let that be a lesson to folks, a lesson I learned from being in three separate productions of the damn thing: West Side Story will NEVER go out of style.
-Keith says that if you want to vote for Candice, call the number at the bottom of the screen. If you don’t, call your doctor because you don’t have a pulse.
-Nicki is practically speechless, praising the performance from top to bottom.
-Randy does his usual Randy spiel when a powerhouse vocalist knocks a performance out of the ballpark.
-Mariah thanks Candice for that performance, as it was her parents’ song, and hearing it sung like that made her emotional.
-After the recaps, we get Jimmy out onstage to declare that Candice has won the night, because if Candice makes the finale and wins this thing, well dammit, they’re going to make it come across like this was their plan from the start. Gotta take credit for it, I guess. That said, I have a hard time complaining about it when the contestant in question is THIS good.
-That’s all for me tonight! Sorry about the messed-up scheduling of the updates. The site kept crashing due to the insane amount of traffic — The Voice and Idol really need to never be programmed against each other again.
-Check back for videos as they’ll be added as soon as they become available! And join me tomorrow night for the live results show, as we find out which two singers are moving on to the Nokia to compete for the season 12 crown!
-We keep round three moving…
KREE HARRISON is up next!
-The producers chose “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry for Kree. Maybe Kree can rock after all, so long as it’s country rock. Though she eventually tries to do too much vocally, the performance settles into a kick-ass pocket where she’s just rocking out and swaying her hips. Love it. And more tellingly, it actually comes across like a natural fit.
-Mariah loves the pain of when Kree is singing from her soul, preferring the “sorrow” more than the “anger”. However, she still thinks Kree sang it well.
-Keith says that the song didn’t feel right for her, but still gives her props, since she set the bar so high for her with her last song.
-Nicki says whoever picked that song for her should be stoned. However, she says that whenever Kree leaves the show, Nicki is buying her album.
-Randy said she did her best, and gives “props for Kree.”
-Kree talks to Ryan about what a pleasure it is to sing for everyone, saying that this has been like a dream for her.
-After the break, Candice closes the show. From checking out song spoilers, the judges better stretch their legs out, because they’ll be rising from their seats within the next ten minutes.
-Jimmy praised the judges’ song choices, and mentioned how hard it is to sing when you’re all choked up like that. However, he ultimately gives the round to Kree.
ANGIE MILLER is up next!
-The producers gave Angie “Maybe” by Emile Sandé, and after two rounds on her feet, Angie is back behind the piano. I love her take on the verses, and there’s something weirdly compelling about her super-dramatic eye-humping of the camera. The chorus gets a bit shouty, but I found it to be a pretty solid fit for her, really showing the full range of what she’s capable of, from the restraint of the verses to the vocal power of the chorus.
-Randy loved all of tonight’s performances, and feels that Angie has become a complete artist tonight.
-Mariah has “nothing negative to say” about the performance, and says that she did an amazing job with a song that isn’t easy.
-Keith says that Angie could sing a song from under the piano, for all he cares. He loved it.
-Nicki feels Angie has come full circle as an artist and performer.
-Angie tells Ryan she gave it her all, and she hopes it pays off in the voting. Girlfriend REALLY wants this.
-Back from break as Ryan interviews Kree about her hometown visit, and she says that it was really emotional yet also rejuvenating at the same time.
KREE HARRISON is up next!
-Though Kree’s hometown video starts out in relatively mundane fashion (crawfish feast, reuniting with her sister who’s more excited than emotional), her video ultimately becomes one of the more emotional that I can remember in a long time. Kree and her sister return to the home they grew up in, before their parents passed away. Kree’s sister states that this was the last place they were all together as a family. As the sisters go through their old belongings, Kree recounts having lost her father in a plane crash when she was 12, and her mother in a car accident when she was 19. Both girls break down as they recall old memories.
Kree then has a full day that includes returning to the rodeo, embarking on her hometown parade, and playing a concert in a PACKED arena (or concert hall. Either way, everything is bigger in Texas). She tears up while singing “See You Again,” and I found myself really rooting for Kree by the end. Not that I wasn’t before. I mean, I would be rooting for her now if I hadn’t been rooting for her already and—okay, I’m just going to shut up. She’s singing now.
-The judges chose “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts for Kree, and it’s a really powerful performance. Just a gorgeous vocal, though it gets a bit raw in places. However, that strain contributes to the emotion behind it. This was a total moment.
-Nicki struggles with her emotions as she tells Kree that while she wishes her parents will see her again someday, they’re seeing her now. They’re smiling down on her and hugging her and kissing her. Kree tears up, and Nicki proclaims this to be one of Kree’s best performances in the entire competition.
-Randy reiterates that this is one of the best top threes in the 12-year history of the show, and that Kree was outstanding.
-Mariah can’t even comment on the video, as she has no idea how Kree made it through the song after watching that video. She praises Kree’s vocals and her austerity as a performer, saying that her skill is something no one will ever be able to take away from her.
-Keith is in tears as he echoes the sentiments of the other judges, and adds, “God bless you.”
-Dare I dream that Kree makes the finale after all?
-Back from break with Angie and her brother John, who is growing off “The Playoff Beard.” He and his friend Eli started growing out their beards when she made semifinals, and vowed not to shave until she wins. Now they’re thinking about taking it farther, to the point where she wins a Grammy or something. It’s a cute bit of banter, as Angie and her brother have a pretty informal chat with Ryan.
ANGIE MILLER is up next!
-Angie’s plane lands, and she heads straight to the local Fox affiliate for an interview. She also does the weather, threatening to take the weatherman’s job, in an amusing segment (although Angie’s confidence is right on the border of what might constitute irritating self-absorption).
The next day, she talks about how she knows a lot has happened to Boston, but it lifts her heart to see all the Boston Strong signs. She hopes she can help lift Boston’s spirits. She heads to a cafe where she meets her friends, who absolutely lose their mind when they see her, rushing over to hug her and bursting into tears. She offers to take them in the limo with her, and they all ride to her former school, where Angie gets her own Ashley Ferl, as a little girl cries at the mere sight of Angie.
After reuniting with her family (and her cat!), she attends her hometown parade, breaking into tears while thanking the people of Boston. She then performs “You Set Me Free” alongside her brother. She tearfully exclaims, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
-The judges picked “Try” by Pink for Angie, and I think she made a mistake in not only foregoing the piano, but in keeping the original arrangement of the song. Try as she might, Angie just isn’t a rocker. To make matters worse, she just sort of wanders around the stage for most of it — at least when she’s not doing overly theatrical “rocker” performance motions. That said, I’m kind of giving her too hard a time, since I thought this was a really solid performance. Not a bum note to be heard.
-Keith loved that she didn’t play the piano, saying that she never looked as comfortable without the piano than she did there. “Boston Strong,” Keith says, in a show of solidarity.
-Nicki shouts for Keith to get out of her head. She asks Angie what changed, and Angie says that watching the hometown visits really set something off in her. Nicki tells her she should watch that video every day then, before adding that while running into Miley Cyrus at the MET Gala this week, she realized that Angie is Miley Cyrus’ long-lost twin.
-Randy name-drops the songwriter before discussing the emotional effect of the hometown visits. He tells her that she did a great job with the song.
-Mariah feels that Angie has really found her “place at home,” and it’s on the stage.
-Back from break with Jimmy giving his critiques on the performances. He thinks Kree did a stellar job interpreting the song’s lyrics, but he didn’t feel it was as good as it could have been. He states that Angie did a great job with the song, but feels it was a mistake for her not to play the piano. Lastly, he thought Candice gave a terrific performance, but felt she missed out on delivering some really big moments.
Ultimately, he gives round one to Angie.
-Ryan interviews Candice about her hometown visit. She says that she was psyched to come home, since she hasn’t been there in so long. Candice adds that she was bummed when she learned there would be a 70% chance of rain, yet when she took the stage to perform, not a drop was seen. She calls it a miracle.
CANDICE GLOVER is up next!
-We get video of Candice’s hometown visit. It’s been four months since she’s been home and seen her “six little munchkin siblings” and all her cousins. After doing some public appearances and riding a Moped (while saying she hopes Kree and Angie are having as much fun as she is), Candice meets with her family.
She breaks down before even getting there, and her family is just as emotional to see her. Her mother says that seeing Candice in the limo just did something to her. “That’s Candice! OUR daughter!” Candice spends the day with her family before heading to several events in her honor, including a parade. She cries and says this is the best day of her life “ever.” She performs for the crowd, and it’s hard not to fall in love with Candice here, what with her unfiltered joy and enthusiasm.
-The judges chose Emeli Sande’s “Next to Me” for Candice. I don’t know what the Idol band’s obsession is with ruining a perfectly good, slowed-down arrangement by kicking up the tempo after the intro. The simple, restrained piano intro really could have set this vocal apart from the original, but it ended up treading much the same ground. That said, Candice sounded amazing on it, and the song is actually a remarkable fit for her. However, we need to talk about those zebra-print pants, honey. Just….no.
-Mariah felt like she went home with Candice on that visit, and it brought her to tears. She applauds Candice on her performance.
-Keith said the piano intro was one of the clearest confessions about “her man” that he’s heard. He then talks about her excellent riffing as the track picked up. He loved it.
-Nicki fights back tears when talking about how proud she is of Candice. (I’m starting to think neither Nicki or Mariah have actually seen a top 3 performance show before, since they seem somewhat ill-prepared for the overwhelming emotions of the hometown visit. Then again, maybe they’re just overwhelmingly emotional people)
-Randy says that it was an amazing vocal that shows she has a place in the modern charts today.
-Nicki asks if she can say more, and Ryan admits that he was about to ask Nicki what had struck such a chord with her. She says that Candice doesn’t look like your traditional mainstream singer, that she defies expectations of image while simultaneously remaining the most confident person on that stage. Ryan asks Candice about this comment, and she says that she struggled with self-esteem issues for so long. She breaks down into tears and has trouble finishing, but Ryan excuses her with an “It’s okay, baby.” I’ll be floored if Candice doesn’t make the finale. I mean, really, I would have been shocked before. But I’d be absolutely dumbfounded now.
-Back from break with the last performance of round one…
ANGIE MILLER is up next!
-Jimmy chose “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John for Angie, and she decides to forego the piano altogether in favor of standing at the mic while surrounded by a full string ensemble. It’s one of her best vocals, showing a level of restraint in the early moments that she hasn’t shown since Lennon/McCartney week. I really enjoyed this. Also, she’s totally rocking the straight hair, which needs to be her look for the better part of forever.
-Randy awkwardly grills Angie about whether she felt weird not playing the piano. She said that Jimmy had probably given her the song, thinking she would. However, she made the artistic choice to not sit behind the piano. Randy says he actually really enjoyed the performance, adding that the verses offered some of her best work of the competition.
-Mariah thinks this was one of Angie’s best performances.
-Keith says that Angie’s voice is spectacular, and that he actually wishes she had held back a little more. Regardless, he really loved it.
-Nicki compliments Angie’s fashion, then says that while this was a stellar vocal, this didn’t really hit her emotionally. However, Nicki says that it’s clear that Angie is setting out to actually win this competition.
-Ryan asks Angie about the piano, and she says she’ll be playing it in one of her other two performances later on.
-Back from break, and we launch right into the next performance, no video packages…
CANDICE GLOVER is up next!
-Jimmy chose “One” by U2 for Candice, and it’s exactly as good as you’d expect it to be. Having seen the song spoilers, Jimmy’s choices for each contestant have really made his agenda embarrassingly transparent. But it’s not like I can take that out on Candice. She delivered a remarkable vocal.
-Nicki asks if Candice thought she would make it to the top 3. She says that she simply tried out for the third time, hoping for the best. Nicki gives props to Jimmy for picking that song for Candice, as she didn’t think anyone could touch Mary J. Blige’s version, yet Candice has absolutely kicked things off, as that didn’t feel like American Idol.
-Randy thinks that Candice’s third time may be the charm, and asks the audience if they agree. Randy says that while there were some iffy moments, he felt she absolutely nailed it.
-Mariah can’t believe that Candice ever did anything other than sing.
-Keith praised Candice’s performance and Jimmy’s song choice.
-Ryan reveals that, before this performance, Candice had never heard ANY version of that song. I get that this is supposed to make her performance more impressive, but my God, is this the most musically-ignorant group of finalists we’ve ever had? I’m just baffled each week by what these people don’t know, even if the performances end up being awesome.
-Back from break with Ryan announcing that, for the first time (HA!), the contestants will be performing songs that were not chosen by them. Round one was chosen by Jimmy Iovine, the second by the Jimmy Iovine, and the third by the producers.
KREE HARRISON opens the show!
-Jimmy chose “Perfect” by Pink for Kree, though we don’t get a video package explaining the choice, we just get right into the performance. And hey, I don’t mind that, although I imagine Jimmy would have had a hard time justifying the pick without admitting to wanting to bus her.
-The vocal is dependably good, though this felt like a shorter performance than usual. I also wish the arrangement had strayed a little further from the original. Kree is just not a pop-rocker.
-Keith asks Kree how she felt about the performance, and she says that she feels the song presents a good message for youngsters. Kree says she was thinking of her niece while singing it, and Keith says that he’s sure her niece loved that performance. He then tells Kree that while she’s a country girl at heart, she can pretty much sing anything.
-Nicki concurs, but adds that she felt the performance was too short. She wanted more Kree (Amen!). She also wishes Kree would have worn flat boots onstage. Kree says she’ll go barefoot next time.
-Randy agrees that Kree can sing anything, but he didn’t think the song did much for her.
-Mariah disagrees with Randy, and adds that Kree was probably just holding back to save her voice for the next two rounds. It’s a tiny bit of a copout, but I’m not exactly an objective authority on matters related to Kree. In other words, I’m game for giving her all the copouts in the world, if it gets her to the Nokia.
-The opening flies by. No real video package, just introductions hyping tonight’s show (and Ryan complimenting Mariah on her appearance, saying she must not have had any carbs today. Ryan probably feels comfortable saying these things because he knows no one is watching).
-We get a brief video package detailing the contestants’ excitement last week about getting to go on hometown visits. And then we…take a commercial break?