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“Idol”: Final Three Perform

Kree Harrison
Kree Harrison
photo by Michael Becker/FOX

It was homecoming time on American Idol tonight (May 8), and the remaining three contestants traveled to their respective places of origin, where they all seemed to get some much-needed rejuvenation.

The night's music was divided into three rounds: the first being Jimmy Iovine's song choices, the second going to the judges and the third from the Idol producers.

Round 1: Jimmy Iovine Picks

Round 1 began with Jimmy's pick for Kree Harrison, which was Pink's "Perfect," minus the expletive on the album version. It was a little shaky in the beginning but she settled in once she arrived at the chorus. But soulful as Pink is, the arrangement and style of the song felt odd for such a bluesy, rootsy singer like Kree. "For my ear, you're a country girl. It doesn't matter what you sing," said Keith Urban. Judge Randy Jackson thought it was "a little flat." Even Kree admitted she wouldn't have chosen that song for herself.

Next up was Candice Glover, who get to get all Mary J. Blige on U2's "One." The musicians held back through the first chorus, exploding into the bridge as Candice aimed for the stars. It wasn't the most technically perfect performance she's done, but she was connected. A great choice. "You are a diva. You did that justice," praised Nicki Minaj. "You always bring so much to the table as a singer," added Mariah Carey.

Closing out the round was Angie Miller—not at the piano—with Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," which was not bad. She sang it well enough, but you have to wonder what Candice would do to it. Randy thought she "did a great job holding back on this," and Mariah thought it was one of her best.

Returning from the commercial break, Jimmy added his thoughts, giving the round to Angie.

Round 2: Judge Picks

In the next round, we got to see contestants' homecoming trips. Candice got to return to St. Helena Island in the low country of South Carolina, where she visited her old job and rode a moped around the island. 

"I'm just happy to be on this road, period," she said, bursting into tears as she rode to see her family. She also visited the island's Gullah cultural center, which is just a fascinating addition to her story. It was an incredibly moving journey, ending with her first concert in Beaufort, S.C. Nice job, Idol

Candice's second-round pick was Emili Sande's "Next to Me," which was a really cool choice, if a little more obscure. It's always nice to hear her singing an up-tempo, current-sounding song, but I wonder if it wasn't the knockout she needed. Nicki clearly felt otherwise. "You have come out swinging in this competition. I am so proud of you. I just have to tell you, I mean," she said, tearing up. She praised Candice for her confidence and being such a positive figure for women struggling with their images.

Apparently Angie's brother grew his beard out like a sports playoff thing in support of her Idol journey, which is kind of sweet. As she landed in Boston, she noted, "It feels right to be back here," admiring the Boston Strong signs honoring the Marathon bombing victims. Back in her hometown of Beverly, she brought her friends on the limo, with throngs of screaming fans lined up around the corner, as well as in front of her home. 

The judges chose Pink's "Try," and gave it a sort of bouncy arrangement, which morphed into full-on rocked out choruses. She sounded great (again away from the piano!), selling the inspirational message pretty hard, so it was a decent choice, but I don't know about it being a game-winner. "I love that you didn't play the piano. Talk about a bold move," said Keith. "For me, you've never looked as comfortable performing as you did in that moment."

Though Kree now lives in Nashville, she returned to Woodville, Texas, to see family and friends. Kree and her sister lost both their parents at a young age, but they've kept the house where they grew up and went to visit it. Holy cow, you guys. I mean, this was gut-wrenching stuff. 

Judges' choice was Rascal Flatts' "Here Comes Goodbye," which was a pretty excellent choice for her. Aside from one slightly sour high note, she delivered a really powerful, and worthy, performance of a great song. "You just sang your heart out," said Randy. "It was a lot coming out of that video into that song," said a tearful Keith. "It was the perfect song."

Jimmy thought the judges picked well for Angie and Kree but went "too subtle" on Candice, awarding the second round to Kree.

Round 3: Producer Picks

In the final round, the producers chose "Maybe"—another Emili Sande song—for Angie. Seems Emili and Pink had a pretty boss night for licensing. Angie was back at the piano for this one, which was a little timid at the front, but she got stronger as the tune progressed.

A little underwhelming, especially this close to the end. "You're finding your groove, Angie. Next week, sing a song under the piano," quipped Keith. "Your growth has surpassed my expectations. As long as you feel it, we're gonna feel it," added Nicki.

Kree got to stay on the current country hits theme with The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," which just felt completely wrong, especially with that screechy violin all over the place.

She's a great singer, but this didn't seem like a good choice for whatever reason. "I like that song. I don't know that that's the place for you. It didn't feel right for me," said Keith. "Whoever picked that for you should be stoned," said an even more succinct Nicki.

Closing out the night, Candice got to sing "Somewhere" from West Side Story, looking all glamorous in sparkly chain and earrings.

It was a powerhouse performance, and rather than her usual ad-libs to the melody she opted to just flatten everybody with the big notes and earned a big reaction from the judges. "How do you do that? If you don't want to vote for Candice, call your doctor," said Keith. Randy called it another of the greatest vocals in Idol history, and Nicki said we'd see her next week. 

This is how you really go for a win on a show like Idol

Much as it pains me to say it, I'm afraid tonight may not have been enough to get Kree into the final. A couple of the songs chosen for her were not so stellar, and that could swing things in someone else's favor depending on who tuned in.