LOS ANGELES – This was not the final showdown that any Idol pundit predicted.
On last night’s American Idol finale performance show, filmed at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, country singer Kree Harrison and soul singer Candice Glover faced off on the show’s first all-female battle since the third season. Up until last week’s stunner, it was widely assumed that Angie Miller would be crowned the Season 12 winner. Instead, she was eliminated last week and on Wednesday, the remaining final two contestants each sang three songs. The first was selected by producer Simon Fuller. The second was a “winning” single globally should they reign supreme and the final selection was a do-over song from earlier in the season that Kree and Candice could choose themselves.
The most shocking part of the episode undoubtedly came right at the beginning when host Ryan Seacrest revealed that after winning the coin toss to determine the performance order, Kree bizarrely chose to kick things off, offering the plum closing position to her rival.
Simon Fuller’s Choice
This Sarah McLachlan ballad is pretty much a reality show singing competition mainstay (with The Voice‘s Sarah Simmons tackling it just a few weeks ago, making it an even odder choice for Fuller to go with). To say that Kree’s version was understated would be an understatement as the song did not feature any big moments and adhered to the same safe choices that Kree has been accused of making all season (only in this case, the song was selected for her). If this was the appetizer to the main course that Kree would be serving up later, I hoped that her next few songs would be a whole lot spicier.
While I like the idea of Candice covering Adele, this performance also didn’t highlight her vocal superiority. Just like her opponent, I thought that Candice was capable of delivering a much stronger performance. This is not to say that she didn’t in this case, it’s just that we have all become accustomed to seeing her completely dominate. Once again, I completely attributed this to Simon Fuller picking the song for her and was quite interested to see how her single and personal choice songs would sound.
“All Cried Out”
This was definitely Kree’s best performance of the night and I felt like it was written just for her (which it was). While it certainly didn’t have the feel-good and motivating vibe that other Idol winning singles have had, it certainly fit Kree like a Glove(r) and she infused the painful emotion necessary to connect with the audience. With that being said, the thought of the other Idols lifting her up on their shoulders as she celebrates her win while singing such a depressing ditty certainly does not seem like a probable or plausible outcome. Is it just me?
“I Am Beautiful”
If we were judging the singers based on who had the more affirming title for their winning single, Candice would already be crowned the victor. The message of this single was a mish-mash of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and Jordin Sparks’ “I Am Woman” but in actuality, the song sounded much more like a powerful and inspiring ballad. Candice sang it well, but I still preferred Kree’s angsty choice.
“Up To The Mountain”
Kree had some of the best performances on American Idol this season. It was for this reason that I was surprised she decided to go with Patty Griffin for the final song she will sing while competing for the title of American Idol. While the song suited her, I am sure that if you polled the 7000 people in attendance at the Nokia Theatre, none of them would have been able to remember the fact that Kree already sang this during Vegas week. That isn’t because of Kree (because she did sang it well back then and did again last night), more rather because the song wasn’t memorable.
“I Have Nothing”
While I expected Candice to go with a repeat performance of her spectacular “Lovesong” cover, at the post-show press conference, the singer admitted that she didn’t want to risk doing a bad version of the performance that elevated her into Idol greatness. That isn’t to say that “I Have Nothing” was a plan B choice. It just showed Candice’s maturity in knowing what would be the best choice for this stage of the competition. The fact that practically every song she sang this season was an option for her to choose, speaks volumes about how consistently good Candice has been throughout the season. She began the song with an extended a cappella intro and her performance only seemed to get stronger as the song went on. If Kree’s version didn’t garner any emotion, Candice’s final song was the complete opposite, literally willing people out of their chairs to stand and offer the appreciation that she so richly deserved. The song was perfect and, if all is right in the world, sealed the deal.
So there you have it. At the post-show press conference, I peppered Kree with questions about her decision to let Candice go second and said she didn’t really think about it when she made the decision. It will be interesting to see if this move paid off because with the margin between the two being so small, the kindness that Kree has displayed all season might be the only decision she regrets tonight when the winner is named.
Sandwiched in-between Kree and Candice was a performance by Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen and when I asked her about whether she was feeling a sense of déjà vu by appearing on the American Idol stage (after being a contestant on Canadian Idol), she admitted that she was. She also refused to pick between Ryan Seacrest and Ben Mulroney when I asked her who the better host was.
On tonight’s finale, I believe that Candice Glover will be named the champion. Don’t take this to the bank though. After all, my guess is only as good as yours.
Will Kreedom reign or will Candy Girl’s soulful sweetness be successful?
We find out in only a matter of hours.
Tags: American Idol, murtz, Murtz Jaffer