Maybe Project Runway has trained me to believe that the “home visit” episode is an over-edited, under-meaningful ritual that we should just do away with completely, but I have to hand it to Nigel Lythgoe and the gurgling hate machine that is American Idol: I — ugh — found myself genuinely moved by Candice, Angie, and Kree’s home visits. I mean, Jesus. Candice with her kickass mom, millions of siblings, and all the shouts of “Gullah” and other islander buzzwords. Angie and her likable family, who put some light behind Angie’s Furby stare. Kree and the devastating visit to the dilapidated home she and her sister once shared with their parents, who both died in terrible, separate accidents. Like Mariah Carey, I found myself weeping caramel-colored tears down my topaz cheeks and onto my Frappuccino-colored breasts. Hashtag pow (in my heart).
Even more depressing: The contestants sang three songs last night, and the themes for the tunes were “Judges’ Choice,” “Producers’ Choice,” and “Jimmy Iovine’s Choice.” All three of those are code for “Some Millionaire’s Choice.” Grim.
Before I start throwing around conspiracies about why certain performers were given explosive tracks while others were given
Rascal Flatts less-explosive tracks, let’s rank your competing chanteuses #3-1.
3. Kree Harrison, “F***in’ Perfect”, “Here Comes Goodbye,” “Better Dig Two”
I’ve never been a stauuunch (said in Jinkx Monsoon-as-Little Edie patois) Kree fan, but I recognize her chirpy goodness well enough to say it sort of sucks that she is definitely going home tomorrow — and not in the Glamorous Home Visit way either. Kree’s “purity” (quoth Mariah-as-Mariah) still reads loud and clear, but over a three-song arc on last night’s show, she didn’t show off enough versatility to establish herself either memorable or dogged enough to win. Even on her “uptempo” “rock” song “Better Dig Two,” she swayed with the annoyed angst of a worn-out Zumba participant. “F***in’ Perfect” was well-sung, and “Here Comes Goodbye” even better, but the problem is it’s “Here Comes Goodbye.” Some goopy torch ballad for contestants like season 9’s Aaron Kelly, not the thundering Opryland minx who smacked us with not one, but TWO Susan Tedeschi jams this season.
Can we talk about how we’re all doing after Kree’s hometown visit? Because my God. After Kree casually explained that her dad perished in a plane crash when she was 12 and her mother died in a car accident when she was 16, we visited the abandoned old home she used to share with her family. Oh my God. American Idol, you aren’t allowed to know true feelings. You were invented to give us Lauren Alaina covers of Reba tracks. Not real feely feelings. It was a pretty touching little scene, and props to Kree for even attempting to sing after Idol broadcast her innermost traumas on the Jumbotron.
2. Angie Miller,”Try”, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”, “Maybe”
I’m glad someone forced Angie, who only wears short sheath dresses now, to sing “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” Early in the season when she chose some Celine Dion ballad, what she really wanted was a song like this, with its powerful melody, tender lyrics, and belt-y, schmaltzy, easy-to-connect-with melodrama. The girl can really hit notes! She’s in it to win it! She’s not in it to not win it. She’s losing the idea of losing to win it. Seriously, she is mostly vocally flawless. But in this case, all I could do was think back to the British X Factor versions of “Sorry…” by Leona Lewis and Joe McElderry, who nailed the emotional core of the track while remaining comely and cute as ever, which is basically Angie’s m.o. (And if you didn’t spend all of last season of Idol screaming at your TV about how DeAndre Brackensick is Leona Lewis, we have nothing in common forever.)
At this point, it’s clear that you either believe in Angie’s powerful, yet depthless performances or you don’t, but it’s fair to say her sheer vocal prowess is far more mesmerizing than, say, Janelle Arthur’s aw-shucksy, Crystal Gayle descendant appeal or Lazaro Arbos and his bargain bin bow-tie obsession. Angie is a rightful member of the final troika, and she buttressed that standing with a quite-ferocious take of Pink’s “Try.” On the less impressive version of “Maybe,” she seemed to have retreated into that familiar pseudo-sincerity. Remember when Mariah called her out for acting “festive” all the time? I laughed. So hilariously worded, yet so, so damning! And slick. Just like legendary Hollywood bad boy Nick Cannon! I kid. Ish.
1. Candice Glover, “Somewhere,” “Next to You,” “One”
Tell me you’re sick of my constant, unending love of Candice Glover. My love is so true and unchallenged — especially now that saucy, catalog-ready Amber Holcomb is gone. (I do miss her.) Candice is the only performer left in the competition who chooses to interpret the songs she picks, tailoring the lyrics to her own experience. Yes. This is the kind of female role model I need. Not kidding. Bring on the R&B classics, God.
From “Somewhere” (yes, the old West Side Story joint) to U2’s “One,” Candice had an incredible week that showed us she’s never going to be pigeonholed. Or overestimated. Or up there b.s.-ing us with phony emotion. She’s straightforward and earnest and real, no matter how unforgivable the song choice might be. I actually hate “One” in all of its soapbox-y euphoria, but Candice sang it, sold it, and throttled everyone in attendance. Watch the above clips, but I think the only thing left to say about Candice is this: She is professional, capable, determined, and cool. I wish that were an acronym, but because the world has failed us, it’s not.
Let’s watch the end of this season with one thing in mind: If Angie or Kree wins, they’ll be worthy, but the don’t embody the spirit of a grunting song sorceress like Candice. While the others have the right moves to make it, Candice has the right unscripted sincerity to be a longer-lasting Billboard firestarter.
What were your favorites last night? Did “Somewhere” slay you too?