Ryan Seacrest started off the show by making a veiled insulted reference to the news that Randy Jackson announced today that he’s leaving the show. We can only hope that is the truth -- he has teased that many times before, and reportedly was only asked back for this season at the absolute last minute. But I’ll believe it when I don’t see it.
The group sing was a mess. First, Ryan said it was to the “current” hit “Who Says,” which is at least a year old at this point. It’s a good song. But it sounds much better when you can actually hear the song. There were massive, horrendous audio problems marring this performance, unlike any I have heard on this show before. The Final 3 sounded like they were performing underwater, or from the “Tron” universe or something. Kree obviously didn’t know what to do with the audio issues, but they were corrected eventually. The rest was fine. But this show, this far along, should really not be dealing with these issues at this stage.
Jimmy Iovine gave his recap of Wednesday night’s First Round, which featured his song choices. Last night he gave the round to Angie, but he expressed serious disappointment that Angie did not play the piano on the song. I truly believe that Angie deliberately did not play the piano on the first two songs of the night so that it would be her “big close” at the end. He still gave the round to Angie despite this. Hm.
After the break S10 runner-up Lauren Alaina came back to sing her new song, “Barefoot and Buckwild.” Play to those stereotypes, Lauren. I liked Lauren during her tenure on the show, although her continued nerve issues became pretty exasperating as she made it literally all the way to the finale. I was really torn on Lauren’s outfit here. She looked good, but it was very mature for a girl her age (she’s 18 now) -- it was some MILF realness, for sure. As for the song, it was pretty standard upbeat country. The chorus was catchy and had lots of fiddle. But none of the lyrics registered at all, especially on the verse. She also didn’t seem particularly assured on the song, which is weird since it’s her own song. Those nerves still a problem, girl?
Round 2 recap from Wednesday night -- the Judges Picks. In hindsight I didn’t like any of those picks. Candice’s was way too simple for someone with her voice. I thought Angie was totally unconvincing with that Pink anthem. But everyone just loved Kree and her song, and so Jimmy gave her the nod for that round. Still didn't love it.
Then we got Mariah Carey’s new video for “Beautiful,” also featuring Miguel. First, I have been flat-out amazed by how little Mariah and Nicki Minaj have pimped out their material/projects over the course of this season. Both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were constantly taking the stage (especially JLo) to perform or show a new video. Second, I heard this song on the radio this morning, and thought, “Boy, that sounds like old-school Mariah, but it can’t be her -- her voice is shot at this point.” It also sounded way too youthful for her. So kudos to Mariah for finding a way to make her voice sound as good as it used to, and for putting out a song that I think will hit the younger audience squarely. I think she was very smart to duet with a young, hot male singer on this and have him do the heavy lifting vocally. The video itself was kind of forgettable. But I do like the song.
Then we got an (obviously pre-taped) performance by Alicia Keys performing her new song, “These Tears Always Win.” It’s a good, upbeat r’n’b song, and I just love the hairstyle Alicia is currently wearing. I sometimes find Alicia boring. Part of that is the fact that she’s just so damned good -- she’s like a musical robot. But she was excellent here, and I like the song, too.
Round 3 recap, the Producers Pick. Jimmy thought Angie was competent but not extraordinary in the second Emili Sande song of the night. Seriously, whoever is pushing Emili on this show is doing her a huge favor. Jimmy really liked The Band Perry for Kree, and I normally really like/respect Jimmy, but I disagree with that. He said that Candice absolutely killed it in her final number, and that if she goes home tonight he’s going with her. Boy, I hear that…
Results: the first person in the finale is Candice! Oh, thank god! I was so worried. I even voted for her last night; first time I’ve voted all season. And joining her in the finale will be…Kree Harrison! Holy shit, that is a SHOCKER. Massive, massive shocker. Angie has been groomed since Hollywood Week as a presumptive winner, and I felt like the show has been building to an Angie vs. Candice F2 for weeks now. Was she ever even in the bottom prior to this? I don’t know. She seemed absolutely destroyed by being eliminated, and it was difficult for the second week in a row to watch the eliminated contesant struggle through the goodbye song. I believe it was the original song she performed months ago on the show.
Kree seemed absolutely stunned. I believe that to be genuine. A few thoughts on this: I think that the home visits showed last night had a profound impact on these results. The general consensus seemed to be that Candice and Kree’s were very real, very truthful, while Angie’s seemed to hint at some of the…less-than-authentic aspects that have been on the fringes of Angie for a while now.
I absolutely think that Kree’s very moving home visit helped to push her into the finale. That’s not to say that she’s not talented. She is a great singer, and she taps into the country vote, which cannot be undervalued. And last night we saw a bit of the old Kree back, after weeks of seeming to slowly unravel.
It’s definitely not the Final 2 match-up I was expecting, nor was it the one I think the show was expecting. I believe that the show wanted for Angie to win this thing, with Candice as runner-up (or surprise winner). I think Kree would be a very good winner too -- certainly the last female country winner has done quite well for the show -- but it does feel somehow less exciting with Angie out of the race. When she got behind that piano there was no denying that she became something truly spectacular.
So, what do we think? Happy with the Final 2?