Ryan Seacrest and Candice Glover
After traveling to their hometowns
to perform for huge crowds of cheering fans and to reconnect with their families, American Idol
‘s final three contestants
took the stage Wednesday night to try to sing their way into the finale.
By the end of the night, during which the gals sang three songs – one picked by mentor Jimmy Iovine, one chosen by the judges and one by the show’s production team – it was clear that the emotional hometown visits had a powerful effect on the performances.
Kree started off the night with Iovine’s choice, “Perfect” by Pink, which left the judges underwhelmed.
“You sang it good but it didn’t have a lot pizzazz for me,” Randy Jackson said.
Nicki Minaj offered some fashion advice – “wear flat boots” – which she hoped would help Kree loosen up on stage.
But after playing footage of Kree’s trip to Woodville, Texas – including a visit to the home she grew up in with her sister and now-deceased parents – a more intense Kree stepped up to the mic for her second performance.
Singing the judges’ pick, Rascal Flatts’s “Here Comes Goodbye,” Kree received raves for connecting to the song.
“This is one of your best performances to date because you felt every alive,” Minaj said.
Mariah Carey was equally blown away. “I’m overwhelmed with emotion because I’m in awe of the purity of you,” she said.
Unfortunately, a bad song choice by the production staff led to lackluster reviews for Kree’s third performance. Although she gave her best shot at singing The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” the judges universally agreed that the song just wasn’t in Kree’s comfort zone.
Angie Miller’s return to Beverly, Mass., clearly had a re-energizing effect on her performances.
Iovine chose an Elton John classic, “Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word,” which earned Angie four thumbs up from the judges.
“Wow, wow, wow,” said Randy Jackson, who liked that Angie didn’t try to be overly dramatic with her rendition. “I think you did a great job holding back on this,” he said.
Carey concurred: “This was one of the best performance’s I’ve seen you do,” she said.
And things only went up from there. After Angie sang the judges’ choice – Pink’s “Try” – you could see Randy and Keith high-fiving at the judges table, and both Nicki and Keith agreed that Angie never looked more comfortable on stage.
Angie performed her third song, Emeli Sande’s “Maybe,” at her favorite spot – the piano. Once again, the judges were swooning.
“Tonight you became a complete performer,” Randy said.
Nicki was even more effusive: “Your growth has surpassed my expectations,” she said.
But even with all the positive reviews flying around, Candice Glover seemed to earn the highest marks.
She had a touching trip back to see her family in Beaufort, S.C., and then came back to Hollywood to deliver knockout performances.
Her first song, U2′s “One,” had Nicki comparing her to Mary J. Blige, and had Keith in awe of the power of her vocals.
Her second number – Emeli Sande’s “Next to Me” – got an emotional reaction out of Minaj.
“You seem to be the most confident woman on that stage every single night,” she said with tears in her eyes. “You come on that stage and just own who you are.”
But it was Candice’s final performance – of “Somewhere” from West Side Story – that really brought down the house, and also received the a standing ovation from the judges.
“How do you do that?” asked Keith, who was in wonder at Candice’s vocal gymnastics.
Urban then had something to say to the voters at home: “If you don’t want to vote for Candice, call a doctor because you probably don’t have a pulse.”