It's down to the final three on Season 12 of American Idol, and the competition is really anyone's to win. The last ladies standing — Candice Glover, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller — all have distinct personalities, fashion sense and vocal styles, so it's difficult, if not impossible, to cite a clear frontrunner. Here's our breakdown of the Top 3, including an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, and our pick for what they should sing heading into the final weeks.
Biggest Strength: Her voice. Candice is the most consistently great singer in the competition, churning out stellar performance after stellar performance week after week. Idol aficionados will be talking about her take on "Lovesong" for years to come, and she always appears to be the most comfortable girl on stage. Even the judges have said more than once that they don't feel comfortable critiquing her technical merits. But everyone knows that Idol isn't just a singing competition. Will Candice's vocals alone be enough to send her to No. 1?
Biggest Weakness: Ever since Idol aired that behind-the-scenes package showing Candice and Burnell Taylor talking about playing a practical joke on Lazaro Arbos, Candice has found herself in the underdog position as far as likeability is concerned. Her innate shyness — especially up against Kree and Angie, both of whom ooze personality — doesn't help matters either, even causing some viewers to pin her with that dreaded D word, diva (and not in a good way). At the same time, if she tries to change her demeanor this late in the game, it will just come off feeling forced and unnatural. Candice will have to rely on strong performances to pull her through if she's going to take the title.
Song We'd Love to See Her Sing: Adele's "Rollin' in the Deep." Yes, we know it's overdone and that most reality show contestants can't hold a candle to Adele, but we'd be anxious to hear Candice's take on this breakout hit. We bet she could knock it out of the park.
Biggest Strength: When it comes to personality, Kree is the best of the bunch — both in her interactions with the judges and with her fellow contestants. Almost from day one, she's been able to effortlessly banter with Nicki Minaj (even fielding a marriage proposal on stage at one point), and the behind-the-scenes footage has informed us that Kree has been considered the "mom" of the Top 10 (making sure everyone's shirts are ironed the night before a show, etc.). Plus, though we feel uncomfortable citing it as a "strength," Kree's backstory is arguably the most compelling. After losing her father and mother to a plane crash and a car accident, respectively, this girl deserves something good to happen to her.
Biggest Weakness: Kree sometimes seems disconnected during her performances, as if her body's on stage, but her mind is somewhere else, and the judges have told her as much in recent weeks. (Granted, she's also been plagued by shoes that should come with a warning label, as well as a pinched nerve one week.) Our theory? Singing comes so naturally to her that she doesn't feel the need to put any extra effort or emotion into her songs, and it shows. But at this stage in the game she needs to find some way to break out of her shell — or at least fake it.
Song We'd Love to See Her Sing: Patty Griffin's "Rain." Keith Urban is always talking about how he's waiting for Kree to just slay him with raw vulnerability on a country song, and we think this one could do the trick.
Biggest Strength: With Amber Holcomb out of the competition, Angie has been able to slide into the slot of the "young," "fresh," "current" (to borrow the judges' words) contestant, and is probably the one that would be the most "marketable" (see also: prettiest, skinniest) to a mainstream audience. Plus, Angie's already demonstrated that she has songwriting chops. She made a gutsy move to dust off one of her own compositions, "You Set Me Free," all the way back in the Hollywood round, and it remains one of her strongest performances to date. We're guessing she has a couple more originals up her sleeve to use as a trump card in the finals, and she can almost guarantee positive feedback from the judges just by sitting at the piano.
Biggest Weakness: Like Kree, Angie often seems a little disconnected from her songs — and a little too connected to the cameras, according to Minaj. She's the contestant who's just there to have fun, as she told the audience after her much-derided take on "Shop Around" a few weeks ago, so when she tries to tackle swooping emotional ballads, her performances tend to lack credibility. And she's been known to flub some lines, as on The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You." That said, she's clearly more in the "pop star" camp, while Kree and Candice would be considered more Singers with a capital S, so her perpetually sunny demeanor might not hurt her after all.
Song We'd Love to See Her Sing: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." This slow-builder could give Angie the smoke-and-lights aesthetic she loves so much, and as a bonus would give her another chance to shine at the piano. Plus, Tyler's strained, husky vocals would match Angie's well, and the song's message of heartbreak would be the perfect way to give us a glimpse of her darker side.
What do you think? Who has the best shot at winning American Idol? Vote in our poll!
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.