Wednesday, May 15, 2013

American Idol Finale

At long last, we have reached the final performance night of the season. It has been a critically negative year for American Idol this year in regards to ratings and media coverage, but I believe that the last two standing are both very deserving of being where they are. We may never know though if one or both of these ladies would be in the Finale if Idol did not basically blacklist all talented and marketable male singers in their desire to finally get a female winner once again.

I will live blog what happens as I watch a recording of the evening that has Candice Glover and Kree Harrison taking the stage at the Nokia Theater in front of 7,000 fans. It sounds like Kree has more vocal support inside the venue.

All season long, the performance shows on Idol have been two hours, but tonight, in the biggest sing-off of them all, it's just an hour, which works out better as far as my schedule goes tonight, but things are probably going to feel a little rushed.

We are told that Kree won the coin toss and elected to go first. Wow, big mistake for her if she really wants to win. That sort of gesture has been done before other Idol finales, and the person who elected to go first always loses... I think. Usually, but not always, the person who sings last winds up winning. Kree really should have tried to have the final moment of the evening on principle, but especially because Candice can be expected to pull out the big guns at the very end, and that will be considered a "moment." After seeming to prefer at times both Amber Holcomb and Angie Miller, it does seem like the Idol Powers That Be prefer a Candice victory.

With that in mind, we begin the first round, which will be songs selected by producer Simon Fuller:

1. "Angel"- Kree Harrison

Right off the bat, we know that the sole remaining Simon has given Kree a song that is not likely to win her many voting converts. While I am sure that many Sarah McLachlan fans like this song, so many others consider it to be boring, dreary, and most associated with images of sad puppies and kitties in shelter cages.

Kree sounds a bit nervous on this. It's definitely not her best performance, but she still has a very endearing tone and quality to her voice. My hunch is that she has come into this night, shocked to have even made it to the Finale, but resigned to seeing Candice win.

2. "Chasing Pavements"- Candice Glover

This is not my favorite Adele song, but it's a better choice for Candice than what Kree was given. Candice also seems a bit tentative vocally, but it's pretty much still in her wheelhouse, and she sounds good.

In the interest of time, the judges have not spoken at all right after the performances, but before I unpause the recording to see what Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey had to say, I award:

Round 1 to Candice Glover

Time now, for a performance by Carly Rae Jepsen that I could not care less about. I believe she came in like fourth place on Canadian Idol about five years ago. Somehow, she will have had a bigger hit than either Candice or Kree will probably ever that. That is sort of unfortunate. They, along with the other three female finalists this season are all much better singers. Also, this song is horrible.

Next, the contestants will be singing what will be their coronation singles, if they are elected American Idol. I had read reports weeks ago, that writers and producers were working with the contestants well in advance, so that they could be involved in that process. We will see if that is mentioned.

To think, last May, Phillip Phillips was given a song called "Home", which I really did not like at all (and still do not, although it was a far better choice than what Jessica Sanchez was saddled with) and that P2 himself said he really would not have chosen for himself either. Nonetheless, that song has been everywhere in the past year and turned into a huge hit for the reigning Idol. I did not expect that to happen.

3. Kree Harrison- "All Cried Out"

Well, doesn't this song title sound like something people would rush out to buy?

The first verse is definitely a bit boring and dreary and seemed to be too similar to "Angel" from the first round. By the time Kree gets to the chorus, it picks up a bit and she has a chance to demonstrate the power in her voice, but still, I do not think anybody was really going to be blown away by this, despite the standing ovation from Keith Urban and Randy.

The judges do not speak after this song either, which means we are more than halfway done with the show and Nicki Minaj has not uttered a syllable.

4. Candice Glover- "I Am Beautiful"

My initial instinct, with the hunch that this may very well be Candice's first single, is that the title is horrible (although ironically it will find itself competing on the charts with a similar title that was just released by the Idol judge who has most championed Candice.) The song does not seem like a hit to me, but I was wrong about last year's winner's single, and perhaps a lot of young girls will like the message in it.

I find the song a bit boring, but Candice of course, sings it very well. It seems a lot more like a "winning moment" as compared to the song that Kree did. It certainly seems more uplifting, and she had televised fireworks behind her and all that. So, people will foreshadow ahead to see the confetti tomorrow night perhaps. All four judges give a standing ovation.

After the performance, Candice either looks overwhelmed by the entire situation, or angry at herself for not singing it as well as she wanted to.

Round 2 goes to Candice Glover

The third and final round will be the contestants reprising a song from earlier in the season. Not having seen any spoilers, I am still pretty certain on what Candice is going to do, but not as much so on Kree. For her sake, she really would be smart to go with something happy and uptempo.

5. Kree Harrison- "Up to the Mountain"

Well, this is not exactly an uptempo song, but it was arguably Kree's best performance, having taken place way back during the Las Vegas rounds. Ironically though, this is the exact song that Crystal Bowersox gave a powerful version of in the Nokia Theater on a Finale performance, in what would turn out to be a losing effort.

Kree does a very good job with the song once again and I think she saved the best for last. However, I am not sure if it had the same impact as the first time she did it, because the band seemed kind of loud, and there were all sorts of background singers involved as well. People were standing up in the audience and smiling as she was singing, which felt a bit off.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, Kree had a very strong season and ended on a strong note.

6. Candice Glover- "I Who Have Nothing"

I really thought she was going to go with "Lovesong" which I think was the best performance by anyone this season, but I suppose this was a pretty good choice too. Perhaps, it was because she already sang Adele (which is the version she does of The Cure song) that she decided to go with this performance from even earlier in the competition.

Needless to say, I expected this to be very good, but it probably even surpassed my expectations. She is just so talented, from the way she sang the first few lines acapella, to the way the she belted the big notes, while showing vocal and physical restraint.

Candice clearly came to compete and wants to win this. Her passion on this song was palpable and likely will win her some votes.

Round 3 goes to Candice Glover

Candice Glover wins the night 3 rounds to 0.

A 3-0 decision for Candice is pretty much what I expected going into the night, and since I believe I had Candice ranked at the top every single week of the competition, it is not much a surprise at all, for me to determine that I want her to the next American Idol.

At the same time, I still think Kree Harrison has been a very worthy competitor all season. I suppose I am a bit more "soul" than "country" though as far as my musical tastes, and while Kree has crossover appeal, she is probably more effective singing before more intimate gatherings than the kind of spectacle that American Idol tried to produce tonight.

While Candice should win, I do not think it is a done deal. Kree has a lot of fans, and the person who I believed has deserved to win in many recent seasons, has not done so. Perhaps those that most frequently vote in Idol will be enough to carry the day for Kree.

However, I do think that Candice is probably going to win. It may be close, but I also would not be surprised if she wins by a solid margin. I was a bit more iffy on who would win going into the night, but everything that occurred on the stage (including Kree's apparent refusal to sing last after winning last week's coin flip) set things up all the more for a Candice coronation.