UPDATE: If you’ve watched the results show and read the headline of this post, you know I was very, very wrong. Please feel free to check out my mea culpa, Eating My Words — Angie Will Not, In Fact, Win American Idol
I have been an unabashed lover of American Idol since the very first episode aired in the summer of 2002, but I must say — what a very strange, strange season it’s been.
Ratings are plummeting, and the show is not only no longer the number one show on television, it’s not even the number one singing competition. Two of the judges have only acknowledged each other’s presence a handful of times since the live shows began airing, and resort to name-calling over Twitter. And for the first time in 12 years, the Top 5 were all made up of the same sex.
Despite these oddities, the Top 3 is, as Randy Jackson reminded us on several occasions tonight, probably the most talented Top 3, as a whole, the show has ever seen. There’s certainly not a clunker in the bunch, a la Season 1’s Nicki McKibbin or Season 3’s Jasmine Trias. And though there have been strong Top 3’s before — Season 2’s Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke, for example — these three women are all vocally spectacular artists, and each has a legitimate shot at a successful career.
And yet — there’s been something oddly listless about the show since Lazaro Arbos was finally given the boot a few weeks ago, and we were left with five deserving, talented women. Instead of the ladies fueling each other, forcing each other to new heights as Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray did back in Season 1 to produce truly thrilling performances, the remaining contestants all seemed so sure of their ability to have a career they seemed to stop trying to impress. They stopped working for it. They continued to do their thing, sure, and there were some great performances to be seen, and they certainly weren’t helped by uninspired theme nights (Bacharach again? Really?), but at the end of the day the fact remains that none of them has gotten better in the final stages of the competition. Just at the moment things seemed like they were going to get really interesting — they didn’t. They stayed the same. So blame Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey if you must, but I believe that midseason plateau in the performance level of the contestants is the real reason this season has not lived up to the potential of what this show can be.
So who’s going to win this thing? Two words — Angie Miller. She had this thing in the bag from the moment she performed her original song back in Las Vegas. With all due respect to Candice Glover’s astounding performances of “Love Song” and “Somewhere,” Angie’s Vegas performance was the highlight of the season, and it was all downhill from there. In that one performance she showed a brilliant tone, originality, and genuine songwriting skills. The fact that she, herself, was never able to top that performance is almost irrelevant — first impressions matter on this show, and she made a killer one. She won the whole thing right there.
Usually a contestant’s likability factors into whether they will win or not, but the interesting thing that tonight’s hometown visits highlighted is how much less relatable Angie is than Candice or Kree Harrison, the other member of the Top 3. As Randy so condescendingly pointed out, Candice is the true illustration of American Idol giving an opportunity to a performer who would likely never have had a shot of a stage so large. Hell, Candice didn’t even make it onto the show after auditioning the past two years, how was she going to be able to get a meeting in Hollywood? And Kree’s story is truly heartbreaking — a 22-year old woman who has lost both of her parents to tragic accidents? That’s the kind of stuff that seems tailor made for a reality show backstory, and Kree hasn’t once tried to manipulate it for personal gain. (The same can’t be said of the way the producers have edited her packages, but that’s another story).
But Angie, the 19-year old gorgeous musical theater nerd, who’s been compared this season to a Disney princess and Miley Cyrus? She missed her cat! Awwwwwwww.
And yet — she’s gonna win. Mark my words.
Who will she face in the Final 2? If tonight’s performances alone make the difference, and if I had my druthers, it will be Candice. But I think it will ultimately come down to whether the audience responds more deeply to Candice’s narrative of building confidence over the course of the season, or Kree’s tragic family history. Factor in the country music voting bloc, which Kree alone represents, and I think she has the slight edge.
But ultimately it doesn’t matter who Angie faces in the finale next week — she locked this thing up months ago.
What are your thoughts on this season? And are you as confident as I am that Angie will take home the prize?
UPDATE: Wow, was I ever wrong. Read my mea culpa in my new post Eating My Words — Angie Will Not, In Fact, Win American Idol