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'American Idol' Recap: Season 12, Episode 34

American Idol Season 12 Episode 34
(From FOX)Welcome to the top three everybody! Next week is American Idol's big finale, and this top three is in fighting form. Wednesday night's show was marked by some standout performances, but the most memorable thing about the episode was probably the homecoming parade videos. Let's start with the song choices and get to the highlights below. This week, each contestant sang three songs: one chosen by producers, another chosen by the judges, and a third chosen by Jimmy Iovine.

SONG CHOICES

Angie Miller
"Maybe" by Emeli Sandé (chosen by the producers)
"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" by Elton John (chosen by Jimmy Iovine)
"Try" by Pink (chosen by the judges)

Candice Glover
"Next to Me" by Emeli Sandé (chosen by the judges)
"One" by U2 via Mary J. Blige (chosen by Jimmy Iovine)
"Somewhere" by Reri Grist/Barbra Streisand (chosen by the producers)

Kree Harrison
"F---in' Perfect" by Pink (chosen by Jimmy Iovine)
"Better Dig Two" by the Band Perry (chosen by the producers)
"Here Comes Goodbye" by Chris Sligh/Rascal Flatts (chosen by the judges)

BEST

The Homecoming Videos

The ladies were sent back to their hometowns this week for the parades thrown for the top three contestants. All of the resulting video packages were emotionally affecting, and two of them left Nicki Minaj in tears, but Kree's was especially heart-rending. The video showed Kree returning to her abandoned childhood home where she grew up with her mother, who died in a car crash in 2009, and her father, who died in a plane crash in 2001. While walking through the dilapidated house, Kree showed off a T-shirt her dad wore to one of her rodeo performances in 2000. It was hard not to get choked up. The childhood house juxtaposed with footage of her big hometown parade was tear-jerking and uplifting and was followed up by one of Kree's best performances when she sang "Here Comes Goodbye" by Rascal Flatts.

Nicki Minaj Crying

If we'd been betting before the show, we'd have put our money on Mariah Carey losing it over the homecoming videos. But no, it was Nicki who was fighting back tears. So she's human! Let's have more of this and less of the thing where she shoves a Q-tip in Mimi's direction as part of a sophisticated Nicki diss.

Angie's "Maybe," Kree's "Here Comes Goodbye," and Candice's "Somewhere"

No one contestant walked away with Wednesday night's show. If we had to choose, Angie probably had the best night, but each of the top three contestants had a standout moment.

For Angie, that moment came with Emeli Sandé's "Maybe," the one song where she chose to get back behind the piano. For Kree it was her emotional performance of "Here Comes Goodbye" by Rascal Flatts. If that number didn't leave you rooting for Kree, then you're probably one of the many bloggers who have begun writing her off.

For Candice it was "Somewhere," a West Side Story song covered famously by Barbra Streisand. It gave her a chance to nail a big crescendo in a very safe way, but I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I love watching Candice do her big voice diva thing, but on the other, I think she's really painting herself into a corner by being the kind of diva who sings Streisand — the kind of diva whose target audience overlaps a little too much with AARP membership and whose ticket sales spike in Florida and Arizona. Winning Idol shouldn't be anyone's end game. It should be a starting point. But this is the kind of song that dooms former Idol contestants to being forever thought of as former Idol contestants. You have so much potential Candice. Don't waste it on Streisand.

WORST

Song Selection

Based on the backstage chatter from Entertainment Weekly, none of the three ladies were very familiar with the songs chosen for them. Angie Miller hadn't heard her Elton John selection or her Emeli Sandé one. Candice Glover wasn't familiar with "Somewhere" from West Side Story, and had never heard "One" (either version).

That's ridiculous, and not because we should expect Idol contestants to have an exhaustive knowledge of pop songs. It's ridiculous because it illustrates just how out of touch these song selections are. The past few weeks have been filled with Idol judge rumors because producers are trying to figure out how to stop the ratings slide. Well it's not the judges that are rendering Idol irrelevent. It's the sense that Idol is an out-of-touch dinosaur still clinging to songs that are sometimes 90 years old. It's a talent competition for fogies and that's who's been tuning in. The show should either make like Dancing with the Stars and embrace its ever-aging audience by jettisoning Nicki Minaj and any thought of ever procuring Justin Bieber, or it should stop creating cognitive dissonance with ancient and/or unfamiliar material.

Speaking of unfamiliar material, Emeli Sandé might be a respected UK talent, but the highest any of her singles have charted in the United States, where we watch American Idol, is 36. And the highest her one full-length album charted was 28. She's virtually unknown to Idol's audience, so why have two selections from her? It doesn't make any sense.

And that's my rant for tonight. Seriously though, I loved the homecoming videos. They were the best part of the episode. So who do you think will go home next? Vote below.

Poll: Who's going home next on 'American Idol'?
Click to vote:
  • Angie Miller
  • Kree Harrison
  • Candice Glover
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