In a somewhat surprising result, Angie Miller was sent home last night on American Idol, leaving Candice Glover and Kree Harrison to battle it out next week for the title.
This top three was one of the strongest in recent Idol history and Candice certainly earned her spot, especially after her show-stopping (and show-closing) performance Wednesday of "Somewhere" from West Side Story. However it was truly a toss-up as to whether Angie or Kree would join her in the finals. Kree has heart and an incredible voice, while Angie had that plus commercial appeal. It's easy to imagine teen girls crying in their bedrooms listening to her heartfelt tunes.
Although Kree started the competition very strongly, her performance has waned in recent weeks, resulting in harsh criticism from the judges. She was also burdened with truly lackluster song choices during this week's performance night and in some ways it felt like Kree had been set up as the fall girl destined to make way for Angie's rise to the top. That said, Kree is wildly talented and her early performances were very strong. Plus, Kree had the country vote – and Idol certainly has a knack for cultivating incredible country talent – and she had one of the most dynamically heart-wrenching home visit stories in Idol history. In the end, Angie was probably undone by three solid but not astounding performances while Kree's version of Rascal Flatts' "Here Comes Goodbye," combined with her tear-jerking home visit, put her over the top. In addition to her obvious talent, Kree may have earned some sympathy votes for being saddled with bad songs.
There is every chance that Angie will go on to a successful singing career. Last night, though, she couldn't sing through her tears. She apologized for the fact that her voice cut in and out while trying to sing Colton Dixon's "Never Gone" one last time, while Mariah Carey encouraged her from the judges' table.
It will be interesting to see Candice and Kree compete in the finale next week. They are both strong contenders, however based on recent weeks, it's not a stretch to imagine Candice taking it all.
Last night also featured performances by Season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina who performed her new single "Barefoot and Buck Wild." Then in a bemusing bait-and-switch, after a package about Season Eight runner-up Adam Lambert and his journey on Idol and beyond, Alicia Keys came on instead. Keys performed her new single "Tears Always Win" while seated at the piano. Perhaps she also served as a hint of Angie's future.
Also on the show, Mariah took the contestants into the studio to impart some valuable music biz lessons, including advising them to get involved in making their own videos. Mostly, though, it was an excuse to show her video for "Beautiful," the track she did with Miguel. When Angie makes her first video and is dancing in a barn in a tiny yellow mini dress with butterflies floating around, we'll only have Mariah to blame.
Previously: Top Three Sing for a Spot in the Finale