May 9, 2013 at 10:29 PM ET
“American Idol” has been light on surprises all season, but delivered its most shocking result on Thursday night.
Candice Glover was the first singer to earn her spot in next week’s finale, which wasn’t a surprise. The unexpected result came next when Kree Harrison joined her in celebration, leaving teenager Angie Miller as the third-place finisher.
Angie hasn't been in the bottom three all season, while Candice and Kree have been in the bottom two within the two previous weeks. Kree even got the “whatever happens tomorrow ...” speech from the judges after her third performance on Wednesday, the usual sign that they think the results are obvious. It’s certainly the same message that Amber Holcomb received the week before, just before her own elimination.
But instead, it was Angie who left, and the teenager who has had a smile on her face all season -- who even reacted gracefully when Lazaro Arbos left her hanging with a brutal performance in their duet a month ago -- had to try and compose herself. She cried during the video montage, got herself together momentarily, and then broke down during her final performance of Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone” as her family and friends rushed the stage to console her.
(A silver lining for Angie’s mother: This probably means her son can go ahead and shave his “playoff beard.”)
Mariah Carey looked overjoyed. The other three judges huddled for a moment, looking like they were marveling at what happened.
(That wasn’t the only drama involving the judges. Early in the show, Ryan Seacrest walked behind the podium as he told the viewers, “A little later on we’ll reveal who’s leaving our show.” He stopped and stared pointedly at Randy Jackson, who made some random noises. “A little heads up?” Ryan asked)
Jimmy Iovine may have inadvertently put his finger on the reason for Angie's surprising exit, noting that while she sang well Wednesday, she missed out on the opportunity to have one of those elusive “moments” that the judges are always talking about. As both he and the panel pointed out, she decided not to sit behind the piano, where her star has shone the brightest. Angie replied that it was because with three solos to perfect and not much time to prepare, she wasn’t confident she could learn the part.
A reasonable point, but that left her at a disadvantage when Candice brought the house down as she closed the show with “Somewhere.” But still, most thought Angie had done enough to earn the other slot.
As for Kree, perhaps viewers saw her hometown visit, where she and her sister went back to the home they were living in when their parents died, as something they couldn’t ignore. Her tragic backstory is much more compelling than that of Angie, who’s probably about to have the same kind of career as the third-place finisher that she’d have had if she had won.
Kree and Candice were definitely the two looking the most tense onstage while waiting for the results. Angie, smiling, looked like she didn’t have a care in the world. But as the final few minutes showed, she actually cared very much that she’ll now have to watch her two friends compete for the title next week.
Did the right two advance to the finale? Tell us what you think in the comments!