It’s time for some hometown flair on American Idol, and for the first time this season, I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. And it’s awesome.

Season 12 has been, in one word, predictable. But now that we’re down to the final three, I can envision scenarios in which any one of the girls is sent packing. Not before the regular packing they will do to visit their hometowns, though, which is always a pleasant treat for both the Idol contestants, as well as the neighbors who suddenly know who they are after years of not caring. I wonder if the ladies get to keep their costumes? The budget for leather pants must be through the roof, and do you really want to share those after someone else has performed in them? Didn’t anyone see that episode of Friends?

So Who’s Left, and Who’s at Risk?

Sure, I think it’s a given that Kree Harrison is at a disadvantage and is the most likely to go home, but with the talent on that stage, she could easily win the night and move on to the finale next week. In addition, she has the country vote AND vote-for-the-worst support. A little personality and connection would go a long way to help Kree stand out.

Angie Miller’s fate seems to be in her own hands. She is the pop to Kree’s country, and I would argue she’s the most marketable of any of the remaining ladies. But even though she’s been more or less surging lately, she also has a penchant to underwhelm at times, and three such performances could easily land her at the bottom of the rankings.

Candice Glover seems like the only lock, with a rare blend of vocal prowess and artistry that is seemingly unmatched this season. However, she also suffers from a tiny bit of an identity crisis, as she is the most difficult to figure out what specific kind of artist she’ll be after the competition. These are the times when Simon Cowell always stepped up and picked the perfect song (I’m looking over the rainbow, Katharine McPhee!). 

The obvious answer is that Candice will be awesome at whatever she chooses, but that doesn’t always play well in the minds of voters. She should be fine, but an Angie-Kree finale wouldn’t be all that shocking. All this makes for a very exciting top three, and I’m hoping there’s no letdown like we got during one-hit wonder weak week. 

It’ll also be interesting to see how the judges play it, now that Amber Holcomb is out of the picture. They so blatantly campaigned for her the last few weeks, but to no avail. So maybe they just try honesty from now on? I know, I know, that’d be a novel concept, wouldn’t it? Even I snickered a bit after I typed that, and I don’t even like nuts in my candy. Sigh … I’m going to miss Harry Connick, Jr. 

On a side note, what I WON’T miss are “hashtag pow” and “in it to win it.” Who said ’em and who said it best?

‘American Idol’ Season 12: The Judges’ Best One-Liners >> 

The only thing that’s for certain is that we will crown the newest American Idol next week, in a star-studded affair, and it will be the first chick winner since Jordin Sparks in Season 6. Then, they”ll all be going on tour! And you can too!

American Idol Giveaway: Enter to Win a Pair of Tickets to the Idol Live Tour . Hurry, Contest Ends May 10!

The themes this week are Judge’s Choice, Jimmy’s Choice (cause you can never have too much Jimmy Iovine) and Idol‘s Choice. Hopefully, we won’t hear too many songs from the 1930s or 1940s — it was called the Depression for a reason. 

Who do you think is the favorite? Who do you think is most likely to go home? How many standing ovations will we see? Let’s get to it, and keep your comments coming at the bottom of the page!

Welcome to the Top 3

Ryan Seacrest opens Idol with a bunch of random strangers on stage with him. Are those the family members of the remaining singers? Mariah Carey is rocking the bare midriff for the first time since she did that song with ODB (Is she losing weight just because Wu Tang is headlining Bonnaroo?), and Nicki Minaj’s chesticles are on display like never before! We must be getting close to the finale!

And yes, I literally have no idea if Randy Jackson and Keith Urban are even wearing clothing. I plain didn’t notice. It’s like when I meet someone and don’t specifically make an effort to remember his or her name. A minute into the conversation, I’m usually thinking, “Holy crap, I have no idea what this person’s name is. And they JUST told me.”

A Song Choice Twist and Jimmy’s Picks

So Ryan explains that the contestants aren’t choosing any of their songs, including “Idol‘s choice,” which actually means the Idol production picks. Interns? Monkeys with darts? Who knows. I hope someone has to sing Kriss Kross (RIP Chris Kelly. You shall jump no more.)

Kree is up first, and Jimmy’s choice is P!nk’s “Perfect.” It’s very pitchy, and she doesn’t look like she has much energy. It started out okay, but then failed to live up to the top three hype. Forgettable start to the show, especially considering P!nk’s powerful voice.

Keith asks her about the song choice, and she gives a cookie-cutter response about her niece. Totally unenthusiastic. Keith says something about her country roots being very apparent without actually saying anything about the performance.

Nicki likes that Kree went back to her “easygoing Kreedom,” but thought the song was too short (which I was grateful for). Her only suggestion is to wear flat boots instead of heels, so she can move around and rock out more. 

Randy says it was flat and lacked pizzazz. Mariah thought it was an interesting pick from Jimmy, but she wanted Kree to do more with it. She chalks it up to the fact that Kree has more singing to do and wants to save her voice. 

Jimmy picked the song because he wanted to hear Kree sing a pop song, but she says she never would’ve chosen it and doesn’t want to confuse her level of “country.” Her handling of this song choice, more or less phoning it in, actually makes me like her a bit less. 

Candice is (No.) One

Jimmy’s pick for Candice is U2’s “One,” which is one of my favorite songs ever (putting it in like the top 100 or so). His first choice might have been a bit off, but this one is spot on. Goose bumps throughout for her totally original take on the song. I love that she didn’t sing the exact U2 version, and she “straight up” (wink) nailed it. Huge moment for her. 

Nicki gives props to Jimmy and says that Candice version was right up there with Mary J’s, which is almost blasphemy. Not that I have anything against Miss Mary, but I believe Nicki ranks hers above the original. Meh. 

Randy basically predicts Candice will win the whole thing, Mariah grapples with the fact that Candice ever had a job that wasn’t singing (and gives more props to Mary J.) and Keith loves her power.

What’s more impressive is that Candice had never heard any version of the song before, which is almost as bad as Burnell Taylor never having heard The Beatles “Let it Be,” but also makes her performance all the more spectacular. I hope she listened to the U2 version more during rehearsals. 

Everyone gave Jimmy love for his choice, meaning he’ll either be batting .500 or .333, since Angie is up next.

Angie Does Elton Without the Piano

Jimmy picks Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” for Angie Miller, and she makes the peculiar decision NOT to sit behind the piano. I wouldn’t thought that an easy call, but this works in surprising fashion. It’s probably Angie’s most subdued performance to date, and in fact, she barely moves her arms at all. She could be kicking her feet like crazy, but there’s so much fog we would have no idea. 

She really takes the time to focus on the meaning and emotion behind the song, and her voice shines throughout without her even trying. 

Randy asks if it was hard for her to do this without the piano, and she says no, so he talks about the piano more. She abandoned it because she worried she couldn’t learn the intricacies of an Elton song in a week, which makes sense. Still, Randy really liked it (even though he admittedly doesn’t sound like it) and appreciated her restraint. 

Mariah calls it one of Angie’s best performances and thought the mic stand was beneficial in grounding her. She also is not very enthusiastic in her praise.

Keith would’ve been happy with Angie holding back EVEN MORE (does nothing make them happy?) and reminds her she can break hearts singing really gently. He apparently wants her whisper.

Nicki calls it a stellar vocal that didn’t quite hit her emotionally like she wanted. The judges matched Kree’s enthusiasm perfectly with their critiques of Angie.

Jimmy picked the songs to challenge the girls. Kree did okay, but not as good as he wanted. Angie should’ve played the piano but nailed it. He gave Candice Mary J. (pffft to me) and she missed a couple opportunities, so he gives the round to Angie. 

Round 1 is in the books, and I give it to Candice. Angie in second and Kree needing to make up even more ground. 

Candice Heads Home

Candice takes us back to St. Helena Island, South Carolina, for a concert on an overcast day, and it does indeed rain on her parade a bit. But that can’t damper her spirits. She meets up with her old boss BJ and rides a moped around town, going to see her family for the first time in four months. 

They’ll all be waiting outside for her, and she sheds her first tears of the trip. I think that part of her success is how open she is emotionally. It really helps her connect, and all these family moments just endear her to America even more. Is her pastor speaking creole? I feel like I’m watching Maine Justice.

The town goes absolutely apesh– for her homecoming, as only a small town can (likely with the help of some clever camerawork). Then it’s time for Candice’s concert, with a proclamation from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley that May 4th will forever be known as Candice Glover Day. All the Star Wars babies are in the state are pissed. May the Fourth be with Candice Glover. 

Candice Slides Over Next to Me

The judges have chosen Emeli Sande’s “Next to Me” for Candice, and I’m paying more attention to the girl on the saxophone. Vocally, no one comes close to Candice, and she knocks it out of the park. But I’m kind of bored by it. I blame the song choice, because there isn’t really anything negative to say, overall. Just didn’t “do it” for me.

But of course the judges will never admit their own error, so Mariah calls it “A-plus-mazing.” Keith says it was a clear confession and that Candice was in the zone, Nicki holds back tears and proclaims that Candice came out swinging, and Randy dubs it an amazing vocal and says “Kudos to us,” while mispronouncing kudos.

Angie Hits Up Boston

Angie’s brother joins her on stage, because he’s growing a hockey-type playoff beard in honor of her time on the show. Ryan calls it an Idol first, but I’m pretty sure Casey Abrams is always growing a playoff beard. 

It’s Angie’s first time back since the Boston Marathon bombings, and she loves the “Boston Strong” signs and hopes she can offer some smiles to an area still reeling from the terror attacks. 

She appears on the local FOX news show and does the weather, then heads to her favorite coffee shop to hug some friends in 16-year-old slumber party fashion. She even hits up a meet and greet at her old kindergarten, where all the little boys profess their love for her and a young girl cries like that other little girl cried for Sanjaya a few years ago. Remember this chick?


After a stop at home, it’s parade time, all with fitting Jesse J playing in the background. Her brother is on the stage playing the drums during her concert, which just oozes commercial success. 

Angie Tries (Really Hard)

The judges picked P!nk’s “Try,” and this is like the 50th P!nk song we’ve heard this season. Try? More like Why? That was such a poor joke, I’m disappointed in myself. As is P!nk. And her exclamation point. Still, Angie does a good job with it. It lends itself to her theatrics, which she can do because the song’s basic job is to inspire. She could’ve possibly done a haunting piano version, but she kept it true to the original and rocked out with it. 

This time, Keith LOVES that she didn’t use the piano and thought she never looked as comfortable doing a song like this before. Nicki thought it was her best up-tempo song to date, then calls her Miley Cyrus‘ long-lost twin. Randy congratulates the judges again, and Mariah concurs.

Kree Takes in Texas

Family is first up for Kree in Woodville, followed by a trip to a crawfish boil to meet the townsfolk and kiss some babies. The next day, it’s off to the house she grew up in, where her parents’ raised her and her sister and the last time the family was all together. It’s the small piece of their parents that she and her sister can hold on to. The house is falling apart, and I don’t know if it’s just abandoned or what, but it’s a very emotional moment. 

There’s so much love during the parade that Kree feels like she can physically hold it, then a little girl rides a sheep at the rodeo. Kree takes on a mechanical bull, which I rode once on spring break in college and had awful bruises on my legs for like two weeks. We’re talking purple, yellow and black grossness. Luckily for Kree, they keep it slow. 

Then it’s concert time, and it’s basically her and a guy with an acoustic guitar. She dedicates the whole thing to her parents, and the tears start while she’s singing. 

Kree Makes Texas Proud

In sticking with the emotional flow, the judges picked Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye.” This one is the perfect song for Kree to connect with emotionally, and that hometown video is the equally perfect lead-in. It’s simple and subdued, and outside a pitchy note or two, everyone’s on the same plane. Probably will end up being her best of the night.

Nicki says you can’t deny the effect of a true emotional trigger, and she is super proud of Kree for one of her best performances to date. Words don’t express it for Randy, who calls it the best top three ever and gives more props to the judges. C’mon, Dawg. We get it. You guys picked the songs.

Mariah agrees (with Randy, not with my sentiment).

Keith calls it the perfect song for Kree, and he thanks her for keeping him in it from beginning to end. 

Jimmy gives the judges props for giving Angie and Kree good songs, then trashes them for Candice’s choice. Yaay me! He thought it was too subtle for her great voice, and they should’ve picked something that not everyone can sing to make her stand out more. 

Round two goes to Kree, because Idol knows how to tweak a heartstring, followed by Angie and Candice. 

Round 3 and (Thank God) No More Tears

It’s time for “Idol Production” picks, which is entirely too vague, but it’s not like the other themes were really strict in nature either. Angie’s Evanescence performance and half the one-hit wonders attest to that. 

Idol has picked Emeli Sande’s “Maybe” for Angie, because apparently it’s either her or P!nk. She’s back behind the piano, which is good, but it starts out a bit rough. She eases into it and sings the heck out of it later, but it’s too short to leave a great impression. Now I worry Angie might be in trouble if Kree really delivers next.

Randy thought Angie sang her heart out and finally became a complete performer, and Mariah agrees. Keith says Angie is finding her groove and tells her to sing under the piano next week. Nicki proclaims that Angie has come full circle and her growth has exceeded everyone’s expectations. 

All the Pressure is on Kree

And Idol has chosen The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” which is another perfect choice for Kree. This explains why the P!nk song was so bad to kick things off. Give the girl country, and she’ll deliver. I am not a fan of the genre, so I don’t profess to be an expert. But this strikes me as a country music performance more than it’s an American Idol performance. 

Mariah lauds the wild rocker side, but she prefers the painful sorrow to the anger. Keith likes the song but doesn’t think it’s the place for Kree. It didn’t feel right for him, but she set the bar higher with her last performance that America will still love her. 

Nicki says the song isn’t Kree’s comfort zone and “whoever picked it should be stoned.” I hope she means the one kind of stoned and not the other. She should be clearer to specify whether she is referring to capital punishment or referring to refer-ring. She didn’t like it at all, and neither did Randy. 

I’m really surprised by that, because I found it pretty entertaining. I give rocking out cred where rocking out cred is due. Seems like the judges basically wrote her off for advancing, which backfired on them before. But who does America agree with? 

Candice Gets Emotional

Candice gets the final pimp spot, which means she’s probably about to do something special. Idol has chosen “Somewhere” from West Side Story, and my first thought is that I’m not a fan of many showtunes on this stage. I don’t know if it’s worth directly pointing out that many contestants end up on Broadway. 

Much like most performances tonight, I don’t really have anything bad about it. She sounds absolutely freaking amazing, but again, the song choice just doesn’t “do it” for me. Vocally insane though, and full of soul, and all the judges give her a standing O, Mariah’s midriff and Nicki’s breasts included, which means we’ve come full circle. 

Keith just wants to know how Candice does this and says anyone who doesn’t vote for her doesn’t have a pulse. I counter that anyone who DOES vote for her DEFINITELY has one. Nicki says “see you next week,” Randy dubs it one of the best vocals in Idol history and Mariah echoes what Randy said. 

That one was really tough for me, and I worry that the judges didn’t do Candice any favors. She should absolutely be in the finale, but guaranteeing her a spot actually discourages people from voting for her, because she’s a “lock” and they’ll vote for whoever they want in there with her. 

Candice easily takes round three, followed by Kree and Angie. Jimmy gives the entire night to Candice based on her pimp spot performance, and America better keep in mind that she still needs votes to move on! 

I think Kree may have done just enough to move past Angie, but I wouldn’t be surprised by anything. Who did you think was the best? Who is moving on to the finale, and who is going home? Join us Thursday night for all the answers, as well as performances by Grammy-winner Alicia Keys and Season 10 runner up Lauren Alaina. This one is coming down to the wire, and it’s the first time you should be genuinely excited about what could and should happen! 

You can watch American Idol every Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on FOX. 

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order