This was a big week for American Idol! One of the judges premiered a music video; the judge with the longest behind-the-Coke-cups service record announced his imminent departure from the show... oh, and the Top Two for Season 12 was finalized, inching the show ever-closer to its First Female Winner In So Long We Think Jordin Sparks Might Even Be Ready For Social Security At This Point.
Wednesday night's performance show had a top-down split—Jimmy Iovine picked one song, the judges picked another, and the producers picked the third. Which resulted in two P!nk songs ("Perfect" and "Try"), two Emeli Sandé songs ("Next To Me" and "Maybe") and a troika of songs that seemed designed to sabotage Kree Harrison's chances of making the finale—not only was she given the out-of-her-wheelhouse P!nk ballad "Perfect," the producers saddled her with The Band Perry's murder-suicide ballad "Better Dig Two." Which is actually a fairly sassy song and one of the better tracks on the country trio's recent album Pioneer, although once I became aware that the producers gave it to her even though both her parents died when she was a teenager I suspected that some Happy Feet-style chicanery was afoot.
If anything, the choices of P!nk and Emeli Sandé underscored the fact that the powers that be were rooting for a Candice Glover/Angie Miller finale—Candice being the genre-bender with the roots in R&B and musical chops to make The Industry feel good about pushing her, Angie being the spunky singer with inspirational pick-me-ups at the ready. But while Candice handled most of the material she was given easily—not only did she imbue U2's "One" with a fiery spirit, she brought down the house with a show-closing, Broadway-worthy "Somewhere"—Angie's sprint through "Try" felt as unconvincing as her most superficial performances this season, and her take on Sandé's "Maybe" showed off the irritating reediness of her upper register. (Jimmy gave her Elton John's "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word," and it was fine.)
Kree, meanwhile, gave the songs her all, although it wasn't hard to see that she felt she'd been sorta sabotaged; she was clearly unenthused by "Perfect," and I could have sworn that her voice faltered at one point during "Better Dig Two." Her take on Rascal Flatts' "Here Comes Goodbye" (co-written by Chris Sligh! Aw, remember Season Six?) was lovely and perfectly fit into her wheelhouse, but it was also in the middle of the show. Would people remember?
As it turned out, they did. (And some of them saw the sabotage in her song choices, too, if the comments sections on Idol-related sites in other corners of the internet are any indication.) Last night Candice was the first announced member of the Top Two (and while it was no surprise to this member of the audience, she was pretty shocked). A commercial break, and then it was time to announce the second member of the Top Two. Surely Angie, she of the toothy grin and piano playing and BOSTON STRONG-adjacent backstory, would be Candice's foe in the finale?
Nope! Kree Harrison was announced as the second-highest vote-getter, and pretty much everyone was shocked—Kree, Candice, Ryan, the judges. And Angie. Poor Angie had to do a sing-out through tears, and it was one of those tough-to-watch Idol exits from someone who either didn't think she'd be leaving soon or who didn't know what to do next. Or both. She's probably going to be okay, but man was that tough to watch.
Still, though! This is a great Top Two, a pair of powerhouse singers who appeal to distinct audiences yet have a lot of similarities about them. I'm pretty all-around excited for next week's finale, and this is the first time I can say that since, what, Season Eight?
Next week: It's a Kree and Candice showdown, which is what I wanted all along when this Top Ten was picked. Thank the Lord for small favors, I guess.