(LOS ANGELES) — American Idol’s top three contestants returned home this past week and highlights from those trips were featured on Wednesday night’s performance show.
Candice Glover headed back to South Carolina for an emotional reunion with her family before performing a concert for the fans in her hometown. Angie Miller spent time in her beloved Boston before heading back home to Beverly, Massachusetts, to see her high school pals. After bonding with her family and her cat at her house, Angie finished the trip off with a parade and hometown concert performance with her brother Jonathan.
Kree Harrison went home to Jasper County, Texas, for a crawfish broil, parade, rodeo and a homecoming concert. Her trip to her childhood home with her sister was quite emotional. Kree’s mother died in an accident when she was 19, and her father died in a plane crash when she was just 12 years old. The childhood home has been abandoned now, but Kree and her sister found a few meaningful items to remember their parents by.
Of course, American Idol is a singing competition, and the top three contestants went three rounds Wednesday night performing songs not of their own choosing. Here’s what happened:
For the first round, mentor Jimmy Iovine picked out the songs. Kree got it kicked off with a pretty flat performance of Pink’s “Perfect.” Keith said the song proved that Kree would be a country singer no matter what she performed. Nicki thought this was an easygoing performance, but she suggested Kree wear flat boots in order to really work the stage. Randy didn’t love the song for Kree. Mariah felt like she was connected to the song, but she wanted to see more from Kree later in the show.
Candice was up next singing Jimmy’s chosen song, U2’s “One,” and she actually hadn’t heard Mary J. Blige’s 2005 cover of the song until this past week. Nicki said Candice was a diva who did justice to Mary J.’s version, and Randy thought the song gave her room to show emotion and soar. Mariah said Candice brought so much vocal talent to the table it’s hard to believe she once worked as a travel agent. Keith loved the song choice and said he felt every bit of that performance.
Angie was up next singing Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” but she chose not to play the piano this time around. Randy thought she did a great job showing restraint on this song, and Mariah felt it was one of her best performances on the show. Keith wished Angie had held back a little more with this performance, and Nicki said she was “bringing it to win the competition.”
The judges selected the songs for the second round, starting with Candice singing Emeli Sandé’s “Next to Me.” Mariah called it A-plus amazing, and Keith felt like Candice turned the song into a real conversation. Nicki grew very emotional, telling Candice she was proud of all the contestant had accomplished over the course of the season. Nicki went on to applaud how confident Candice was as a woman onstage every week. Randy said it was a great example of how Candice could fit in the modern musical scene.
Angie was up next singing “Try” by Pink, and she put more heart into it than Kree did with her earlier Pink cover. Keith said she’d never looked this comfortable without playing the piano, and Nicki said she’d never done so well with an up-tempo performance. Nicki also said that Angie was Miley Cyrus’s long lost twin. Randy thought the song fit Angie like her glove, and Mariah felt like Angie had found her place at home on the stage.
Kree’s famous friend, country star Kacey Musgraves, was spotted in the audience before she sang Rascal Flatts’ hit “Here Comes Goodbye.” Referencing Kree’s trip back home, Nicki got emotional noting how much courage it takes to be that young without parents. Nicki went on to say this was one of Kree’s best performances yet because she felt every word. Randy said Kree sang her heart out, and Mariah was overwhelmed at Kree’s realness on stage. Keith said Kree felt the song and sang the tune just right.
The songs for round three were selected by the Idol production team. Angie finally got behind the piano to perform the evening’s second Emeli Sandé song, “Maybe.” Randy said Angie had become a complete performer, and Mariah applauded Angie’s emotional connection to the song. Keith said she was finding her groove, and Nicki thought Angie had come full circle at this point.
Kree took on The Band Perry’s gothic country hit “Better Dig Two” in round three. Mariah said the song showed off Kree’s rocker side, but she preferred when Kree sang sorrowful songs a little more. Keith didn’t think it didn’t feel right for Kree, and Nicki said whoever picked that song for Kree should be stoned. She added she would buy Kree’s album after the competition was finished though. Randy didn’t like it either, but he said everyone knows Kree is on her way to big things.
Candice finished out the night with a sweeping performance of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Her powerhouse delivery earned the night’s only standing ovation from the judges, and Keith said people probably don’t have a pulse if they didn’t want to vote for Candice after that performance. Nicki said, “Four words: See you next week,” and Randy called the performance a singing lesson. Mariah said it made her cry yet again.
The top two finalists will be revealed on Thursday night’s results show at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. Former Idol contestant Lauren Alaina and Alicia Keys are set to perform too.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN