With the competition officially over on Season 12 of American Idol
, it's time to sit back, relax, enjoy a star-studded night with dream duets and group numbers, and crown our first lady winner in six years. I thought about buying a bottle of wine to mark the occasion, but then I realized The Bachelorette
starts in a week or so, and I don't want overextend myself.
Sure, we've got confirmed appearances by Adam Lambert, Mariah Carey (who pre-recorded her medley of hits, complete with Randy Jackson on the bass), J-Lo, Keith Urban, Psy, The Band Perry and Frankie Valli, as well as rumored ones from Jessie J, J-Hud, Pitbull, Boyz II Men and Aretha Franklin. There's also bound to be a tribute to the Dawg, some stupid sketches, Jimmy Iovine and another Ford Fiesta waste of time. Hey, at least we got Carly Rae Jepsen and that song you wrote out of the way Wednesday.
But the real highlight of the night, which will take up approximately all of the last 90 seconds of the two-hour show, comes down to Kree Harrison and Candice R (C'mon, people, the "glove" came off! Laugh. It's funny! The joke so nice, I told it twice!). Did Kree do enough to win? Did Candice Glover do enough not to lose? On paper, the choice seems obvious.
Candice is the superior singer, with more power, better control and a wider range. She has been maddeningly consistent all season long, without any slip-ups, and has always appeared in the top 2 or top 3 of my rankings. Plus, she destroyed her final performance, taking a song she won top 10 week with and raising the roof so high that Noah could've just chilled on it with Colton Dixon instead of building an ark. I'm convinced that if that scenario were to repeat itself today, there'd be a pen next to the flamingos for Colton and Angie Miller to share while they helped repopulate the world with babies and piano-laden inspirational Christian rock goodness. After all, God did choose to save them.
Kree, on the other hand, was not initially one of my favorites. She grew on me, though, and always had an ease and comfort level about her performances that bordered on complacence (and that is NOT a criticism, it's a compliment). She always looked so at home on the stage, but there were very few moments where she really blew me away. If not her for emotional backstory that helps her excel at the slow-tempo country ballad, I'm not sure she'd have made it this far.
That said, she is probably more talented than some of the winners of previous seasons, and she by all means deserved and earned her spot in the final 2. I've said all season that Kree was the type of singer who would always have two of the top 5 songs of any given night, but never the No. 1 song. And when it comes to nearly every aspect of performing, she is second to Candice.
Still, championships aren't won on paper, and Kree has a loyal following in part boosted by constant negativity from the judges. It's amazing that someone with so much talent was ever endorsed by the "vote for the worst" crowd, but that's what happens when the judges try to steer the results a bit too much. (Speaking of which, did you see Amber Holcomb's tweets during the show Wednesday? They included "Idol DEFINITELY has their favorites #SMDH" and "I can't sell what you don't want to buy #MovingOn." Uhhh, bitter much? Yeah, Idol has their favorites, and it was YOU ... all season.)
Kree's main advantage (outside of superstitions based in fact
) is that she has a clear cut role in the musical world. She is a country artist, and all the country lovin' fools are voting for her, plain and simple. Candice is a little trickier to place in a genre, and that works against her. Look at the most successful Idol
winners. Kelly was pop-rock, Carrie was country, David was heavier rock. Who hasn't done as well, record sales wise? Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, Fantasia. The radio and download charts are still king, and those three didn't fit as neatly into a role.
So here we are, with the show about to begin, and I have no idea who is going to win. I'm admittedly pulling for Candice (and I think fairly objectively), but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Kree takes it down.
About the only thing I'm ready to predict is that even though we haven't heard any official rumors, Jordin Sparks will make an appearance. Outside of the fact that she was the last girl to win, there's another interesting point regarding season 6. I've kept a tally of the previous winners who have hit the Idol stage this year, with the previously-mentioned Ruben, Taylor and Jordin being the notable absences, along with Kris Allen. But looking at it from another angle, I realized that we've had people from Ruben and Taylor's seasons perform (runners up Clay Aiken and Katharine McPhee, respectively).
Jordin's and Kris' are the only seasons that have thus far produced no return singers. And since season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert is already locked in, it's either Jordin or Blake Lewis, right? Jordin it is, I decree!
I'm sure a lot of surprises are in store for this, the final two hours of the 70 or so we've invested in this season. I'm thankful to all those who stuck it out with me, and I look forward to your comments as we wrap this thing up together, with a neat little bow. (Get it? Because there's a bow on top of a present, but whoever wins is also likely to bow at some point? I know it's not as good as Candice R, but work with me here!) Let's get to it, so we can all have our Wednesday and Thursday nights back again! At least until the next two-night midweek performance show starts, whatever and whenever that is.
A Top 10 Group Number
Our top 5 girls and top 5 guys open the show dressed in white suits singing The Wanted's "I'm Glad You Came." It's weird seeing guys like Burnell Taylor and Lazaro Arbos out there performing again after so long, or guys in general, really. It's been like a month and a half.
The judges are introduced, and I really have no idea why they make them walk down the stairs. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj literally need help to not fall on their faces with those heels. It's recklessly dangerous. And live. Not that I'd ever hope for anything like that to happen...
The Band Perry and Janelle Arthur
Our first professional pairing features The Band Perry singing their hit "Done," and man, these guys (and gals) have a ton of energy. I don't know much of their music, but hell yeah, let's rock out, country style. Janelle joins them after the first verse, and there's a violin and synchronized head banging and flames and it all kicks some serious ass. Stuff like this would've kept Janelle around longer. I can't even really hear the quality in anyone's voice, and I couldn't care less. Looks like the show has finally started!
The American Idol Gender Controversy Sabotage
After five straight white guys with guitars, all the guys in the top 10 were pretty confident. Then, they were voted off one by one. Suspicious? How about sabotage! Kree suggested Curtis Finch, Jr.'s wild jacket, Angie Miller convinced Paul Jolley that he was funny, sweet little Amber drugged Devin Velez, Janelle Sharpied up Lazaro's music so he'd get all the words wrong and Candice Glover stole Burnell's lunch money, and that's how he lost so much weight. But the mastermind? Jordin Sparks! Told you she'd make an appearance! How'd she do it? It was easy, because none of them play the guitar. She suggests they give The Voice a shot. Actually a pretty funny skit. Wasn't expecting that.
To show they've really got it, the top 5 guys are singing The Four Season's "Let's Hang On." Burnell and Paul kill it before they switch it up to "Walk Like a Man." So it's a medley, and they've got the Jersey Boys (my second favorite Broadway show!) choreography down and everything. "Who Loves You" is up next, then Frankie Valli himself joins them to sing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Dude is like 110 years old (okay, he's only 79) and he's still got it. They close out with some "Grease." I'm such a sucker for the finale show.
A Pre-Taped Mariah Carey Extravaganza
Not quite sure why she couldn't do this live, but it's time for a medley of all-time hits. After how many times I mentioned him, I would LOVE if ODB returned from the beyond for a "Fantasy" duet. Couldn't they at least get another Wu Tang member? Really can't believe Ol Dirty died all the way back in 2004.
Anyway, she's Mariah and she's a legend and a diva, but the cuts between the songs seem off to me. Something just seems fishy about how it was all done. Is she lip-syncing? Otherwise, classic entertaining Mariah. Except when she gets into "#Beautiful." This song is terrible. At least we're spared the video, though, and it's cool to see the Dawg slappin' the bass.
Amber Holcomb (Bitterly) Returns!
Amber is back, singing Emeli Sande's "Next to Me." It only makes sense that Emeli is performing live tonight, as she and P!nk were the samplers du jour this season. One of them had to show up. Amber seems more relaxed than when she was on the show, and also a little pissed for some reason. Not like she's angry, just indignant, like she's just not taking it seriously. Sounds great though.
Let's Escape in a Ford Fiesta!
Instead of a new one, we're just getting a recap of everyone's favorite mission. It's borderline hilarious that while Kree's favorite was visiting the sick kids in the hospital, Candice preferred the life-sized car soccer.
To cap it all off, Ford is giving a Fiesta to both finalists' hometown mentor. Candice's is her grandmother, and Kree's is her musical soulmate, some dude with a guitar. Misa? Anyway, he's her rock. They make it seem like the grand prize was just two tickets to the finale, and I thought I might have to erase my previous sentences, but they then give away the cars and everyone is happy.
Psy Minus the Pisatchios
The man who broke every YouTube record there ever was, Psy, is Gangnam Stylin' his way through the new single "Gentleman." It's kind of like whatever Carly Rae Jespen came out with after "Call Me Maybe," but with better dance moves. You can actually sing the words to "Gangnam Style" to the music, if you prefer. They're that similar. This is like "Gangnam Style's" bastard stepchild. It's not as catchy, but it's certainly fun. Unless you hate Psy. Then you're just hoping for the Harlem Shake.
Keith Urban Shows Us How It's Done
Keith is up next, with his single "A Little Bit of Everything." You really can tell who the pros with longevity are, because it just looks so much easier when they do it. Carly was working hard up there Wednesday, and Keith can just sing and be entertaining. Just a nice summer-y song. I imagine listening to this while sitting on a dock somewhere drinking lemonade. Killer guitar solo, too. Well done, Mr. Urban. And I don't mean Tim.
Candice Glover and J-Hud
Candice is singing Natalie Cole's "Inseparable," and she really picks up her game once Jennifer Hudson joins her. It's like she knows she's gotta bring it now, and bring it she does. To be honest, their voices are both so huge that at times, they don't blend together that well. Almost like they're drowning each other out in the loudest way possible. A dream combo, but they don't necessarily know how to duet each other efficiently. Still got some goose bumps though.
Halfway through the show! Only an hour of Idol left this season!
Angie Miller and Adam Lambert
Ryan Seacrest says Angie's elimination shocked the nation, which is weird because the nation decided to send her home. Still, she's back, singing David Guetta's "Titanium" with Adam Lambert. And just like that, we've officially seen a contestant from each previous season. Angie's on the piano for this slowed-down version, and it seems like Adam is struggling a bit to contain his massively awesome voice and not overshadow Angie. I hope they pick it up a bit soon and let him cut loose. He gets to show off more in his solo moments, at least.
Then Adam introduces Angie's personal idol Jessie J for a duet of "Domino." Jessie is legs for days, along with a bald head and an open-front dress, and I'm so torn on her level of hotness right now. She also has some trouble keeping up with her own song, it seems, which doesn't make sense. Angie is also a bit too excited to keep her voice in control. But I don't care, because it's such a catchy song (that I reluctantly admit I love) and they're such a fun pairing.
The final surprise is that because Angie had to give up a rendition of her original song "You Set Me Free" to perform with Jessie, Ms. J is going to fly Angie to the U.K. to perform it live at one of her concerts. Nice opportunity for our third-place finisher, and great set to the three of them! Love, love, love me some finale! I feel like I can't say that enough.
Let's Roast the Judges
Time for the finalists to talk about how they REALLY feel about the judges. Here are the highlights:
Mariah Carey always wants to stand up, but she can't because her skirts are too short. She has a huge vocabulary, using phrases like "tour de force," but no one knows what any of it means.
Keith Urban plays it cool, wears T-shirts and is overly expressive when listening to the performances.
Randy Jackson is always talking loud, and saying "in it to win it" doesn't have the same impact when you say it to everyone.
Finally, Nicki Minaj is just mean. The nicest thing she ever said to Paul Jolley was, "You irritate me." She wears crazy wigs and has a huge ass.
Randy, Keith, Travis and Kree
Kree has quite the all-star band backing her up! Travis Barker on drums, Keith Urban on guitar and Randy Jackson on bass. They're singing Keith's hit song "Where the Blacktop Ends." There are some highlights, and of course it's fun, but Kree seems tired to me. Lots of shaky moments, but awesome to see Keith rock out on the gee-tar.
A Barking Tribute to the Dawg
It's Randy Jackson's final show, and some of his biggest fans got together to commiserate. It's a bunch of dogs barking in a conference room. They hit play on the DVD player, and it's tribute time. Wow, makes you realize how much weight Randy's dropped in the past 11 years. Gotta miss the magic he had with Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. Lots of highlights from over the years, my favorite being when he smacked the girl in the face with the running high five. It's going to be interesting without him, but the show will go on. We've lost how many judges before? Will you miss him? Ryan speaks for everyone when he says the door is always open.
The Queen in the Big Apple
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, joins us live via satellite from New York City. She didn't get to hear any of the performances of her songs earlier in the season, but she's (t)here now! And she assures Kree and Candice that they both have promising careers. The top 5 ladies will now perform with her, which basically means Aretha is singing, while the top 5 try and match up their backup vocals despite the inevitable delay. They do a lot of "whoa woos" and "yeahs" and some chorus work during the medley, but they really don't get to sing much. It's okay, they're just props for the Queen anyway. It's all about the r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and the Idols get to sing the "just a little bit" part. You take what you can get, and you're honored to do so.
One Last Collaboration
It's all we have time for before RESULTS time, so I'm sure they have something big planned. But first, America has hand-picked a pair of Ford Escapes for Kree and Candice. I wonder how many people actually logged on to vote for which car they should get. Hmm, which kind of Ford should I choose for someone else to give someone else who will be famous soon and easily be able to afford it?
Instead of a performance, we get a recap of the entire season set to Phillip Phillips' "Gone, Gone, Gone," from Kez Ban to Zoanette to the inspiring moments to the worst of the worst. Phillip Phillips was initially supposed to be here live, but that was in jeopardy after he had to cancel his tour for health reasons. It's such a damn good song though. He's two for two, which is a good start to a career. Love those Harry Connick, Jr., moments, too. I really hope he ends up as a judge.
Before we find out the identity of the next American Idol, it's J-Lo time, featuring Pitbull. It's their new single, "Live it Up," and it sounds like a more energized version of the song Jessica Sanchez sang with Ne-Yo. This is absolutely not my style of music, so I hope everyone else is enjoying it. "Turn up this mother and let it play"? Ugh. This is prime time for me to mute the TV. But I won't...
At least we can tell at the end that Jennifer Lopez' mic was actually on. That's refreshing, with all the dancing and such.
One final duet for our top 2, Candice and Kree singing Burt Bacharach's "One Less Bell to Answer." It just goes to show that Candice is the perfect singing partner. She did great with Angie, and now she does great with Kree. Amber and Kree together? Not so good. It's a melancholy end to the drama we've grown so accustomed to the last third of a year.
Okay, it's officially time. Who is the winner, Candice Glover or Kree Harrison? Kieran dims the lights for the last time in season 12, and after the nationwide vote, the next American Idol is ... CANDICE GLOVER.
Candice Glover is your 12th American Idol!
So much for superstitions! Candice just broke all of them, and the most deserving singer won. The contestants swarm her on stage, Burnell jumps around and Lazaro distractingly chews gum.
She sings us out with her first single, "I Am Beautiful," and tears stream down the entire time. Nicki and Keith look on intently while Mariah plays with her hair. We FINALLY get our confetti-gasm, and Candice loses it. The shots of her parents are awesome as well. She sings to the sky the entire time, hugs Burnell, and that's it.
Our journey has ended, but Candice Glover's is just beginning. Soon enough, we'll do it all again. Hope to see you back next year, and thanks again for sticking with me all season long! Your comments are what make it all worthwhile. Candice Glover, ladies and gentlemen. Your American Idol.
(Image courtesy of FOX)