No fancy edited pre-credits sequence tonight: just Ryan on the stage, talking about how the top three got to do their hometown visits this week, while "Home" plays and he stands on the stage surrounded by just the family and friends of the top three. It's a little disturbing how many of them I know by sight.
Ryan promises us the finale next week and claims that the competition is closer than ever, as it is every year. Then the top three -- Angie, Kree and Candice -- are trotted out so we can watch them bask in the lingering glow of their hometown visits. Which we then get to sample montage-style in a clip that, oddly enough, wouldn't have been out of place before the opening credits.
After the ads, Ryan tells us about tonight's three rounds: each finalist will sing a song picked by Jimmy Iovine, a song picked by the judges and a song picked by Idol production, whoever that is. If it's the people who design the sets and projections for each performance, those had better be good. Whatever the case, Kree is starting the night off with Jimmy's pick of P!nk's "Perfect." At least he won't be able to bitch about her song choice this week. And I've never bitched about Kree's voice, but it's a little short on power for this song, especially in comparison to the original. She coasts through a countrified version and Keith starts his critique by asking her how she felt about the song, which is never a good sign. Kree's a little lukewarm about it, as though we couldn't tell from the singing, and Keith says it just proves she's a country singer no matter what she sings. Nicki also still loves the quality of Kree's voice and likes how she seems less nervous tonight, but suggests some flat boots. Thanks for the musical advice, Nicki. Randy also didn't like the song for Kree, even though she can sing anything. Mariah calls the song choice "interesting" -- which is her word for "horrible" -- but she gets that Kree was saving something for later. Ryan comes out and explains to everyone that Jimmy told him he wanted to hear Kree sing a pop song. Well, mission accomplished, even though Kree isn't coy about this being a song she never would have picked herself. Looking forward to hearing the rock song he saddled Candice with, as well as Angie's country millstone.
Wow, I was kidding about that when I wrote it before the ads, but Jimmy's got Candice singing "One." At least it's the U2 song and not the Metallica one. She does better with it than Kree did with the P!nk, adding some gospel flavor. The band and backup singers sound good, too. Nicki starts out her critique with a little interview of Candice and whether she expected to make the top three. Nicki loves the song selection, and refers to a Mary J. Blige version that I wasn't previously aware of, saying Candice did it justice. Randy loved it, too, even though it wasn't perfect, but she connected with it emotionally. Mariah claims to be incredulous that Candice ever did anything but sing in her entire life. She also noticed that Candice didn't appear completely happy with her own performance, but tells her to cheer up. Keith loved the song choice and the power of her voice despite a few adrenalin-driven sharp notes. When Ryan comes out, he tells everyone that Candice had never heard any version of it before this week, and asks her how she pulled that off. She explains how she looked at the lyrics and figured out what it was about before doing anything else. In other words, in your face, Amber.