Stand there! Sing this! Do that!
Kree Harrison: The show’s been building up the anticipation for the top three’s hometown visits for several weeks now, and I’m starting to understand why; Kree’s visit back to her hometown of Woodville, Texas, made me get her in a way that none of her performances have managed to do. It’s rare that a show can mention tragic events in a contestant’s history without it feeling cheap and exploitative, but somehow – either through luck or judgement, I’m not about to guess which – Kree going home and talking us through the loss of both of her parents felt sensitively handled. I don’t particularly want to play armchair psychologist, but seeing her relationship with her sister and the way in which she’d obviously had to grow up very quickly just suddenly made Kree, as a person and a performer, make sense in my head. That said, it’s a shame her performances this week didn’t really have the same effect, as I felt she was the one contestant who didn’t really have a “moment” with any of her three songs – in particular, her take on Pink’s ‘Perfect’, selected for her by Leatherface, was really lacklustre. She seemed to be treating it more as a private love song than the Glee-baiting-misfit-call-to-arms it was always intended to be. I was similarly unmoved by her take on Rascal Flatts’ ‘Here Comes Goodbye’, picked by the judges, but at least her final song, ‘Better Dig Two’ by The Band Perry, had the sort of energy and commitment I expected from a top three performance. I was a little surprised that she made it through to the final as I’d had her pegged to go home this week. Whether it was the power of a well-handled VT, or the country vote, or possibly just that she “clicked” for other people this week in the same way she did for me, I have no idea, but it just goes to show that even after 12 years, I still have no idea how the American public’s minds work. Perfect: 3/10, Here Comes Goodbye: 4/10, Better Dig Two: 6/10
(My favourite part of Kree’s TRAGIC BACKSTORY was when Nicki got incredibly patronising about how Kree was such a pure soul who was singing for the angels, and her plus-sized friend in the audience turned to the person sat next to her and ROLLED her eyes hard. Perfect : 3/10, Here Comes Goodbye : 8/10, Better Dig Two : 6/10)
Candice Glover: I’ve spent most of this series expecting Candice to get Mindy Dooed, and I suppose we may have come close in that top four non-elimination week when she was in the bottom two (although I’m finding it very difficult to imagine a world in which Candice brought in fewer votes than Amber), but this was always the week where I was most fearful – so I think it was handy that Candice, like Kree, came out of her hometown visit very well this week. It probably helped hugely that Candice is genuinely from Bumblefuck, Nowheresville (St Helena Island, South Carolina, to be slightly more specific), so it was clearly a huge deal to everyone for miles around that their girl had done so well. (Compare and contrast to say, Katharine McPhee going back to Los Angeles in season five and the general response being “oh, you’re a bit famous? Well, that’s lovely, but then so am I.”) It really was fun to see her face light up as she went back to Fripp Island, where she used to work (though I was a bit disappointed when it turned out it wasn’t an amusement park, because with a name like that it really should be) and temporarily resumed her old job, right up to the point where she had a (clearly staged) moment of answering the phone like she always used to, only for someone to scream ZOMG IT’S CANDICE GLOVER!!! on the other end. One of the criticisms I’ve made of Candice, as a person if not an artist, over the course of the season is that she always seemed a bit reserved and I wondered whether people would truly warm to her as a result, but seeing her get all tearful as she ran up to her (adorable) parents at home has put any fears on that score to rest. That said, I really was very worried about her getting Mindy Dooed at first this week because her first two performances felt like Candice on autopilot: first Leatherface made her sing ‘One’, which feels like an insultingly obvious choice for Candice but strangely turned out not to suit her voice all that much, then the judges picked ‘Next To Me’ by Emily Sunday, which was fairly generic and slightly truncated and I was starting to gnaw at my cuticles in the fear that she was going to sleepwalk through the Top 3 show and then get eliminated for her indolence. However, she clawed it all back with her closing performance of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story – it wasn’t quite the epic showstopper that I hoped it might be, largely because the band seemed to be playing in an entirely different key to the one in which Candice was singing, but in terms of sheer impact and star quality and reminding everyone why Candice damn well deserves to be in that final (and, frankly, to win it), it did what it was supposed to do. I’m fairly confident she can beat Kree next week (whereas I wasn’t at all confident she could beat Angie), so fingers crossed that justice will be done. One: 5/10, Next To Me: 5/10, Somewhere: 8/10
(Hopefully she turns it back on for the finale, because I found this all rather lucklustre. I did appreciate her snotting all over her face when the judges made it really obvious she was going to be in the final. One : 5/10, Next To Me : 5/10, Somewhere : 7/10
Angie Miller: I have to admit that I’m a little shocked that we’re about to have a final without Angie Miller in it. Except for when she duets with Evanescence or whatever happens, obviously. She’s felt like such a sure thing for a while now, to be a new type of female Idol winner, and yet here she is, squeezed out at the last for a stereotypical duel between a country bot and a leather lunged R&B diva. Maybe her fans got complacent, especially after seeing her homecoming video, for which people actually seemed to turn up, unlike both Kree and Angie who seemed to be doing their damndest to recreate the video for “I Think We’re Alone Now”. And she got her less sexually attractive friends a free limo ride! That girl’s all give. I don’t know that it can be based on her performances, which were solidly workmanlike throughout. I think maybe people on this show should consider not crowbarring P!nk songs into every week, regardless of appropriateness, especially as they all now suck. I don’t know who could have done anything with “Try”, which exists solely to show off that P!nk thinks she can do contemporary dance. Other than that her version of “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” started off really beautifully, but descended into rote pablum and shouting towards the end. The last song was by Emily Sunday so frankly the show should be grateful I deigned to listen to it in the first place. It’s becoming very obvious that there are about three artists from after 1987 who are willing to clear songs for this show anymore and I’m not really into any of them. Finally, there is of course the possibility that Angie was in fact eliminated, per Jimmy IVUnit because she didn’t play the piano. But that seems, you know, not likely. And I don’t know what he had to be smug about either, given that his song choices were all dreadful, dumb, and obvious but then…it’s not as though he’s ever needed an excuse before. Everything : 7/10, all three of them
(I’m a little bit sad that we don’t get Angie Miller in the final too, if only because she was probably the most consistently engaging performer this year. And considering I came into the live shows resolute that I was going to hate her, the fact that I miss her already should be considered her greatest achievement. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word: 7/10, Try: 4/10, Maybe: 5/10)