Only three girls remain in the game on “American Idol,” but which one will sally forth into a future of unguaranteed musical success? (See: Taylor Hicks, for one.)
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Actually, on a season of such strong talent, success may be less elusive for all the top girls than in years past. Then again, “American Idol” had its best year for singers, and its worst for ratings, so talent might not be the deciding factor.
On this show, of course, backstory is part of it, vocal acrobatics weighs in heavily, and connecting emotionally with the songs is everything. And so, in our super-unscientific analysis of the season till now, we analyze best and worst performances, the tug-at-your-heartstrings factor, the best thing Nicki Minaj ever said about the contestants (for extra credit), and try to predict a winner.
1. Candice Glover
Hands down our favorite since early on in the competition, Candice has had a habit of excelling on nights when everyone around her was crashing and burning. And even on the nights when she wasn’t as strong, she was still consistent. This girl never got called “pitchy” in her life. And though she did great even when the themes were forcing her to go old, she appears to be a better match for contemporary music than her contenders.
Best: “Don’t Make Me Over.” It was Burt Bacharach night, and that basically pre-ordained an evening of stale tunes barely interpreted by young’uns who think music from the ‘60s is dumb. But Candice walked out and stole the show, doing some major belting but also some really pretty turns. The judges could hardly stay in their seats. Candice was always a front-runner, but swept into the lead that night. +9 (out of 10)
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Worst: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Candice said rock was far from what she was used to doing, so she phoned it on rock night. Also, she had broken her toe, so there was that. Even when she is at her worst, though, she’s still one of the best. -5 (out of 10)
Heartstrings factor: Candice is a small-town girl, working in tourism for her little island. So she’s got a humble background, but nothing to really cry over. +1 (out of 5)
Best Nicki critique: “I want to skin you and wear you.” (Hollywood) +5 (out of 5)
Score: 12 (out of 20)
2. Angie Miller
Angie peaked early, like so many contestants do, during Hollywood Week, and she’s spent the rest of the season trying to reclaim some of the singer-songwriter promise she showed then. Sometimes she’s succeeded. Many times she’s failed. It’s been a very public learning process, aided by the scores of fans she picked up after that first knockout number.
Best: It was hard to find a performance as stellar as that Hollywood original song, but Angie still had several very good entries when she sat down at the piano and went wild in her upper register. Her best was Jessie J’s “Who You Are”—a repeat of Angie’s other great Hollywood performance. The best moment actually came in the critique, when Keith Urban told stiff Angie that she was finally starting to loosen up, heeding the words of the song, “It’s ok not to be ok.” +8
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Worst: “Idol”s done one too many Beatles nights, and it was the undoing of several contestants, including Angie. She picked “Yesterday” and sang it like a little girl who over-enunciates. It started too high and only got higher. It’s the first time (of many) she was told she sang like a Disney princess. -8
Heartstrings factor: There’s not much to feel bad about for a privileged girl from the Boston suburbs who grew up in what appears to be a big mansion. Her saddest moment came after the Boston marathon bombing, when she devoted “I’ll Stand By You” to her city, and got accolades from the judges about what a smart professional move that was. +2
Best Nicki critique: “You’re out to snatch some wigs off some heads.” (Top 4 x 1) +1
BONUS! Social media handicap: Angie has dominated since day one, usually carrying a majority of the finalists’ followers. She currently has 142,760, or 48 percent of all Top 3 followers, for a bonus of +10.
3. Kree Harrison
What was great about Kree at the start of the season—she’s humble, she’s mature, she’s in control of her voice—has only hurt her as time has gone on. As other contestants improved, Kree stayed stagnant, and appeared increasingly disconnected from the material and from the audience. She’s still got an incredible voice, and she’s gorgeous—even if she dresses like a soccer mom. But is that enough to keep her in the game one more week?
Best: Kree’s struggle between blues and country is moot when she successfully emotes. And that she did on Bacharach night, when she sang “What the World Needs Now,” a traditional ballad to which she brought “humanity” the other contestants till that point were lacking (Keith’s words). +8
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Worst: Kree got increasingly boring as the season went on, so there are several contenders here for worst performance, including a particularly painful duet with Amber Holcomb of “Rumour Has It.” Let’s pick “Whiter Shade of Pale,” which capped off that very long night of Kree getting railed for not connecting to her lyrics. So she closed the night with a song to whom no one can connect, because no one knows what the lyrics mean. She sounded great as usual, but was so checked out, we wondered what she was still doing here. -9
Heartstrings factor: Kree lost both of her parents at a young age. She hasn’t really dwelled on it in the intro videos since early in the season, but we haven’t forgotten. +5
Best Nicki critique: “Sometimes when I wake up every day, if I’m not working, I’ll eat buttermilk waffles. And I’ll have to have Aunt Jemima buttermilk syrup on it. I toast it… warm it up in the microwave. Smooth, delicious, fun. I would enjoy it if I was by myself in front of the TV just on the couch eating waffles.” (Top 10) +5
If our science and math are correct, Kree Harrison goes home this week, making a final battle between Candice Glover and Angie Miller. Candice is the better singer, but Angie’s social media handicap (aka her ridiculously large number of fans) make her a shoe-in for the win.