'American Idol': Homeland

The Atlantic Wire

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Three is a magic number, is it not? Three witches, three wise men, Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain. It's a number freighted with power and meaning. So it makes sense that the annual Top 3 of American Idol is always such a big episode, crowded as it is with the home visits and the producers' choice song and, of course, that ever-present feeling of the season being almost over, the Thursdayness of it, the sense that it's one more bit of seriousness before everyone goes nuts and runs away. I like the Top 3 episode, I really do. And I liked a lot of the singing last night, if you can believe. Let's discuss.

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Angie Mills

I've been giving Angie a hard time all these months. I was sorta into her in the beginning but then she started to seem like too much of a Disney Channel type. Not that she was saccharine and squeaky, that's not actually the Disney Channel type. The Disney Channel type is an overly groomed, hard-eyed young person who tries to be funny like an adult, cute like a teenage girl, and always has their sights fixed tight and true on The Career that will legitimize the insane appeal and talent they simply know they have. Angie Mills is that person. Or at least seems like that person to me. So I've grown to dislike her. But she did sing some things well last night!

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Mostly I liked her "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," because she wasn't playing that fool piano of hers, and she wasn't trying to sass around on stage, she was just standing still and actually singing a song. And it was very good! That song was picked for her by the pickled worm creature known as Jimmy Iodine and he chose very well. Angie should have been singing like that for the whole competition! Not just on the penultimate performance episode. But, ah well, better late than never I suppose.

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Her other two songs were more just aight, but I didn't find either annoying, so I guess that's progress. Maybe the home visit helped her. I mean, in some ways the home visit — to old Beverly, Massachusetts, up on the North Shore — probably made her Disney Kid-ness worse, crystallizing that conviction that she both wants and deserves to be a star. But it was nice and weirdly humanizing to see her Boston, on Fox 25, and then driving up to Beverly where she gave an outdoor springtime concert. But not before she paraded through town in a convertible, waving to people on the street. Most of them looked like they meant to be there! I gotta hand it to Idol. I didn't expect them to be able to muster the crowds for the home visits this season, but they somehow did. I mean there was a decent amount of people at each one! That's quite a feat of organization on the part of the Idols Live team or whoever plans these home visits. Lotta phone calls to local community theaters and high school drama departments, saying show up to this field at this time and scream like you know who this person is. And people did. By gum they did it. Very impressive.

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Kree

Kree's home visit was sad, of course, because she's got this tragic family history about her parents dying and whatnot. The part where just she and her sister wandered around the broken-down old house where they used to live, the place seemingly whispering with ghosts, was one of the more oddly evocative American Idol moments in memory. (Most of the other oddly evocative moments involved Ryan looking at Tim Urban.) So that was rough. But the rest of her visit seemed good, and man she had a good turnout at her concert, didn't she?? And hers was like indoors and formal and everything. Way to go Kree!

Jimmy the Pickle-Worm picked a Pink song for her, I think to make her more pop and contemporary, and she kinda biffed it. It was just not a good fit. But then she sang the Rascal Flatts song "Here Comes Goodbye," just after that teary home visit video, and she sold that number, man. It was convincing and sounded sweet and was the best we've seen Kree do in a while, probably. Maybe for just the pure emotional factor, but whatever. Kree, who worries about never connecting, finally connected. That's gotta count for something, right? I don't know. I don't have anything silly to say about Kree because there's really not much of anything to say, is there? Nice girl with a sad story and a pretty good voice. She's sort of the Syesha Mercado of this season — made it to the top three because why not, no real reason beyond that. And that's fine. Inoffensive. I hope she makes her way nicely in the world after she goes home tonight. (Sorry, it's happening.)

Candice

Candice is kinda snooze-news at this point, right? Jimmy Iodine told her to sing "One" by U2, just like Mary J. Blige does, and she boomed it out in her typically Candice way. Though, call me nuts but it sounded a little uneven in parts. I don't think anyone noticed though. The judges kept hooting and sending their goop rays in Candice's direction, at one point Nicki turning a little crank on her temple so a few crocodile tears would fall out of her eyes. She tried to have a big emotional moment about how she was just so proud of Candice, and it was like... really, girl? Have we had an emotional journey this season in any way whatsoever? No I don't think we have. So stop trying to manufacture one.

Speaking of, Candice's last song of this gut-busting evening was "Somewhere" from a little show called West Side Story. Yes, a beautiful and sneakily simple and quiet song about star-crossed love and dreaming of a better place. But Candice basically said "Hit it, boys!" and sang this big cheeseball horn section rendition of the song that was so wrong. Such an incorrect interpretation of that song. Sure, Barbra Streisand did a nutso version of the song that includes weird glissando space music and you don't hear me complaining about that too, but that at least wasn't some big corny smiling thing that almost made the song sound happy. Candice's was a very annoying version of "Somewhere" and yet the judgessss wennttttt nooooooots. Plum f-ckin' nuts over this thing. Randy basically walked up there and handed her the Idol Trophy right there. It was irksome. I must say. And that's where I'm going to end this today. Annoyed once again. A decent episode full of tears and shivers, ended annoyingly with Candice horn-honking a lovely song that does not deserve horn-honking. Oh well. Better luck next time.

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