After an exhausting 13 months, 1.2 million contestants and 433 episodes, it all comes down to this on Season 12 of American Idol
. The final two. Candice R vs. Kree Harrison (Get it? Because the "Glove" came off?? I am disturbingly proud of that). An all-out catfight to determine the first female winner in six tries. In the words of Austin Powers, "saucer of milk, table two."
Okay, so it's only been four months, a few hundred thousand contestants at best and 36 episodes (you have to hit "next" TEN times to get to the premiere recap on the Idol articles main page
), but those of us who have been riding the AI
train since January know how long the journey has felt. I graduated from college 10 years ago this month, and college still seems more recent than when this season started. Can you even remember when Shubha Vedula was a favorite in the competition? When Isabelle was introduced as Christina "Isabelle"? Zoanette, anyone? My, how far we've come...
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On a side note, when I went to my 10-year high school reunion in 2009 -- and made out with the girl I was in love with from ages 16 to 21, what what? -- it seemed appropriate for high school to feel like it was a decade in the past. But not college. Not my sweet, precious college. Back then, I posted pictures on Facebook of the good ol' days at OCHS.
And while high school seems forever ago, my days at St. John's in lovely Jamaica, Queens (shoutout to Tenna Torres!), still feel like they just happened. Now I'm wondering if I should put up some pics of the good 'ol college days? Can someone please explain this whole "getting older" thing to me? It's quite scary, and I don't like it. And I kid you not, as I typed all this, The Ataris' "In This Diary" randomly started playing on my iPod. Anyway, I digress.
It's finally time for the American Idol finale, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that we all anticipate Candice Glover replicating what she's doing in the picture above -- namely, nudge Kree Harrison out of the way with her extremely talented elbow.
In what was arguably the only surprise during this ever-predictable season, Kree beat out Angie Miller to earn a spot in the final two. America's decision not only cost us a chance to again hear Angie's original song "Set Me Free" (which I went back and listened to here
, and I really think it might be the best of the entire season. Listen again. Agree?), but it also weakened the finale in my opinion.
I would never suggest Kree can't win, but I would argue Angie gave Candice more of a run for her money. Kree needs three near-perfect performances to have a shot, while Candice has a little more room for error. There have been upsets before, but I think even when Lee DeWyze won, we all kiiinda knew Crystal Bowersox deserved it more.
Wednesday night's show is only an hour this time around (with a two-hour star-studded results show), including a special performance from "Call Me Maybe"
sensation singer Carly Rae Jespsen of "Take a Picture," which YOU helped write. Candice and Kree will each sing three times, with the themes being Simon Fuller's Choice, Favorite Performance and Coronation Song. My predictions for the favorites are "Lovesong" for Candice and "Here Comes Goodbye" for Kree. What do you hope to hear?
Finally, before we get to the performances, I thought I'd leave you with this little nugget from earlier in the season. It came to my attention based on all the criticism we've heaped on the judges for trying to rig the vote with their praise and negativity, and it's what I wrote the very first time we heard Amber Holcomb sing, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
"Though Amber has some highlights, the performance is a bit all over the place. There are some screechy moments, and it's just too inconsistent for my liking. Keith calls it technically great, especially the breath control (what?), and says she knocked it out of the park. Nicki calls it an A+++ vocally, but she's wondering if the "inner shine" was evident through the TV. It wasn't. Neither was the "outer shine." Randy says the vocal was amazing and that her best run came through like a shining diamond. Mariah says it was brilliant. What am I missing here? Since these eliminations are up to the judges and not America, I have a bad feeling I'm going to be disappointed with the results. I feel like they were trying to sell us on Amber, like her dad signs the checks or something.
Yup! It started THAT early.
On to the finale! As always, the blog is live, so keep the comments coming at the bottom! Let's see who deserves to win this thing!
A Walk Through the Dream
Kree was on The Rosie O'Donnell Show way back in the day, whereas Candice tried out for American Idol two previous times and fell short. But they ended up in the same spot, and now it's country vs. soul, the first girl-on-girl finale since season 3. Kree gets a louder ovation from the crowd, which could be interesting come results time. Cause they can vote from their cell phones now, without calling 50 separate times. DMX says, "no AOL dial-up in here, up in here."
Simon Fuller's Choice
Kree won the coin toss and chose to go first. Simon picked Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," and she really needs a strong start. I don't know if it's nerves, but she's pitchy. And while it has a country twang, it never really builds into anything. She sounds great through most of it, but it's static and never pops. Maybe it wasn't quite country enough for her to get comfortable.
Apparently we're not doing judge reactions after each performance, so it's right on to Candice.
For her, Simon chose Adele's "Chasing Pavements," and if anyone can match the chops on this tune, it's Candice. She struggles a tiny bit in the lower register at the open, but she nails the runs and then gets back in control. I wasn't blown away, but damn her voice is strong and her range is huge. Round 1 goes to Candice, and I wouldn't be surprised if that is better than anything Kree does tonight.
Mariah Carey says "wow" and "beyond" to describe the performances, because descriptions of two or more words confuse her, and she says she is proud to be part of this season (probably because it's the only season she will be a part of). Randy Jackson calls both songs sleepy and wouldn't have picked either one, but he gives the edge to Candice for the decisions she made and her use of the lower register. Lackluster for the soon-to-be-sprung dawg though.
Carly Rae Jespen's and Coke's Perfect Harmony Program
Yup, you helped write this crap. Apparently lyrics like, "ripped jeans, skin was showing, hot night, wind was blowing, where you think you're goin', baby?" is the best she can do on her own. And damn those catchy lyrics! Hey, I just met you, and this is CRAZY!
Thankfully, I don't think this one will ever be my ringtone (and yes, that awful summer song actually was for a bit last year). Apparently it's sleepy night on Idol, because Carly's barely whispering this one. I'm tempted to mute the TV, because she actually does look really good. Could just be because I'm a leg man.
Coca-Cola is giving away 20,000 free downloads of that song. You'd better hurry up. There's only 19,999 left. You didn't think the elder Mrs. Jepsen was going to pay for her copy, did you?
This is the single that will be the first release of the winner, which last season helped propel Phillip Phillips to stardom with "Home." Neither girl will have the Olympics to adopt their tune, though, which could prove an obstacle to the same success.
Ryan Seacrest pulls a woman (wearing a boot on her foot!) from the audience while he discusses the American Idols Live tour. He talks about "supersizing" it with the addition of Aubrey Cleland, and I'm like 99 percent sure the woman thought he was calling her fat. Poor timing and word choice, Sir Ryan.
Kree is up first with her potential hit single "All Cried Out," which the contestants were supposed to have input on writing. And this one is really catered to her voice. It's a slowed down, emotional country ballad, and she nails it. Goose bump moment. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect is a couple of screechy moments getting into the big notes. But still a great job with a song I could absolutely imagine hearing on mainstream radio, not just the country station.
Candice's coronation song is called "I Am Beautiful," and yes, yes, yes. Neither of these songs are as good as "Home," but Candice nails every single note perfectly, all while showing off her range. Kree's song might be a bit more catchy, but Candice sang hers better. Round 2 goes to her, as well, though this one is much, MUCH closer.
Nicki Minaj heard a different part of Kree's voice this time, and she loved Candice's song. Keith Urban calls both tailor-made performances and says this one is actually a battle of soul vs. soul because they both have souls, err...are soulful. Keith gives the round to Kree, but Nicki gives it to Candice.
Kree is going back to Patty Griffin's "Up in the Mountain," which she sang in Las Vegas and what really put her on the map. It was the song that solidified her excellence at emotional ballads, particularly ones where she can channel her deceased parents, after she did one in Hollywood to initially catch the judges' eyes.
Keith says it's her spirituality and soul that taps into her backstory, Nicki finds the energy uplifting and Randy calls it a winning performance and her best of the night. Mariah loved the previous two songs, enjoying the subtlety of the first and the power of the second. No mention of the Simon Fuller choice, though.
Candice is singing The Cure's "Lovesong," which was my favorite of hers this season. Just kidding, she's singing Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)," which I guess was her favorite. If she nails this, I think she locks up the crown.
Holy crap. Goose bumps all over. This is so much better than when she sang it during top 10 week, it really shows how much she's grown. Her confidence is off the charts, and this performance is borderline mind-blowing. Pitch perfect. Insanely strong vocals. And that strength forges the emotional connection of the lyrics.
Keith calls it crazy and says she's a powerhouse. Nicki notices that we're seeing Candice's legs for the first time, then that she's a superstar who commands the stage. Randy says Candice can "plum, flat out sing" and proclaims it a winning performance. Mariah wants to listen to the song every single night. Or something.
Welp, that's it! The competition is over, and only the fun star pairings remain. Time to cut loose and just enjoy it before we find out who the winner is. Like I said at the top, even if Kree somehow pulls this off, we all know who the real winner is. Candice crushed it, and left us on the best note. I'm just going to assume you agree.