May 2, 2013 at 10:14 PM ET
In the final moments of “American Idol” on Thursday, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb stood at the center of the stage, awaiting Ryan Seacrest’s verdict. They knew one would be going home next week to fanfare and a parade, and one would be heading there for good because she was eliminated.
Kree looked tense. Amber? She looked resigned.
And she was right. The 18-year-old who had clearly tensed up on Wednesday’s performances was sent packing in the bad kind of way, finishing the season in fourth place. Much like Amber, the judges looked sad, but resigned.
“I never wanted to see it get to this point,” Nicki Minaj said, apparently not understanding that the point of the show is to whittle the number of contenders down each week until only one is left standing.
Though Ryan said the results were in no particular order, “Idol” set the stage for the Kree-Amber pairing early. Jimmy Iovine’s comments on Wednesday’s performances made it clear where he hoped the night would go.
Jimmy acknowledged that Amber’s first performance was underwhelming, but that she knocked the second song out of the park. “Was this enough to save her? I don’t know. But I hope so,” he said.
His comments about Kree were less positive. "In my opinion, Kree just hasn't lived up to her full potential over the past two weeks," he said. He admitted that both of her numbers were fine, but said he preferred contestants who alternated brilliance with mediocrity as opposed to those who stayed in the middle of the road.
While that’s his opinion, it wasn’t revealed until long after the voting lines had been closed. And Amber, who came up short in the two-week vote that totaled more than 81 million responses, was so emotionally spent on Wednesday that it might not have mattered.
Amber made sure that everyone would join her in tears at her exit, however, singing “I Believe in You and Me” as her crying father joined her onstage and gave her a hug.
On the other hand, it was a big night for Candice. She was among the two lowest-vote getters a week ago, but was spared possible elimination when the show decided to bring everyone back. Taking full advantage of the second chance, she excelled in both of her solos and made it clear that she can’t be counted out.
“If I'm Bruno Mars, I go out and write a song for Candice's album right now," Jimmy said after listening to her cover of Mars’ “When I was Your Man.” Candice, who has an intensity onstage unmatched by her rivals, was thrilled to get the good news of her survival, wanting to hug anyone and everyone in her path.
As for Angie, while Jimmy noted that she lost a chance to take the driver’s seat in the competition, she was in no real danger of going home this week.
“It just wasn’t special enough,” he said of her performances. “But it wasn’t bad enough to send her home.”
Or, rather, it was good enough to send her home in style next week, while Amber couldn’t avoid the more somber journey.