‘American Idol’ Report Card: Tears And Broadway Cheers For Candice Glover

Angie Miller was three-for-three while Kree Harrison came up short.

All you need to know about this season of “American Idol” is that Candice Glover drew mega-raves on Wednesday night 
 by singing a nearly 60-year-old song from “West Side Story.”

And it wasn’t standards or Great White Way night. No, that was the producer’s pick for her! You know, because the kids these days, they love them some show tunes, right Rihanna? Candice, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison each sang three songs on the show: a producer’s pick, a judge’s pick and a Jimmy Iovine selection, and while they all once again proved that they’re capable, competent singers, one clear theme emerged: Miller is the only half-way relevant artist in the bunch.

Who hit a triple and who grounded out? Here’s our “American Idol” report card.

Angie Miller: Iovine handed Angie Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” and Lil Ange stood somewhat frozen in place for a limp take on the rocket man’s hit. Then everyone dinged her for not doing the obvious and playing piano. The tune never got out of first gear and Randy made her restraint seem like a compliment.

The piano was missing in action again on judge’s pick Pink’s “Try,” but this time Miller looked like a milli, strutting and pouting across the stage like a real-life (pop) rock star. Nicki Minaj totally read my mind when she compared Angie to Miley Cyrus.

Angie finally took a seat for Emily Sandé’s “Maybe,” which showed off the full range of her talents, with plenty of opportunities to climb up into her upper range and pour emotion all over the stage. On a night when the over-the-top praise from the judges was sometimes cringe-worthy, they were right about Miller: she is the only fully formed artist in the mix this year. Grade: A

Candice Glover: When Candy Girl sings, she is truly an old soul. As in, she sounds like an old soul singer from the 1970s. How else to explain that she had never heard U2 or Mary J. Blige’s version of the iconic rock band’s landmark “One?” Jimmy picked it for her and Glover brought some gospel grit to the Blige version, but when the judges gave her a recent Sandé song as well, “Next To Me,” she made it sound like a golden oldie.

Glover can blow, but “Next To Me” was further proof that her stage persona (what there is of it) is custom-built for Broadway, but not pop stardom. And, if that performance is all it takes to bring Nicki to tears, well… I was conflicted over “Somewhere.” On the one hand, it was powerful and impressive, but if a nearly six-decade-old song is what producers thought would make Candice feel more contemporary, I officially don’t get it. Candice’s overwrought diva blowing just isn’t what today’s female stars are doing anymore. Bet your granny loved it, though. Grade A-

Kree Harrison: Kreedom’s problem isn’t her voice. It’s a gritty, country strong instrument that you could easily hear blasting out of your local hat act station. Her problem is that, like Glover, she’s a tabula rasa when it comes to personality. Iovine gave her a leg up with Pink’s “Perfect,” which she imbued with a clever country twang and the judges seemed to do her a favor with Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye.” But her vocals were all over the place, including a bit in the middle where it just sounded like she was shouting.

After a touching, tear-jerking home visit package, Harrison clearly packed some serious emotion into the performance. This, however, is a singing competition, not an heart-string tugging contest. The night ended with the Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” which was, again, right in her zone. But when your fiddle player is more interesting to watch than you are, well, you’ve got trouble. I could see Kree performing this at some country music awards show, and not caring about it then, either. Grade: B

If voters get it right, it should be Miller and Glover standing tall tonight.

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