Idology: Why Won't Idol Let Its Finalists Be Great? Plus: Should All Four Judges Get the Boot?

Season 12 of American Idol has come down to a battle between Candice Glover and Kree Harrison — the exact two women that my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I identified as our early favorites way back in March. So how come we’re in full-throttle diatribe mode on the latest installment of Idology?

RELATED VIDEO | Idol‘s Janelle Arthur on Her Song-Reinvention Process, Group-Round Insanity and the Judges’ Tough Feedback on Her Duet With Kree

Mainly it’s because Candice and Kree — along with their worthy opponent Angie Miller — were denied a “Contestant’s Choice” round during Top 3 Week, and that meant Idol viewers never had the chance to see these talented women performing at their very best. (I even go so far as to suggest a “Create Your Own Round” project with the help of our friends at YouTube.)

RELATED | American Idol: 11 Terrible Ideas to Avoid in a Potential Season 13 Reboot

Melinda and I also talk about how the Candice-Kree finale came to be, what caused Angie to lose her shot at Phillip Phillips’ crown and sash, why Randy Jackson won’t be missed and which of the current judges (if any) we’d like to see return for Season 13. So press play below for the full episode, then hit the comments with your thoughts. And do follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV for all my Idol-related news, recaps, commentary and interviews.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Temperance says:

    Randy’s departure is only 11 seasons too late.

  2. Jushi says:

    K and C finale. Yey!

    Anyway, I saw the latest #idolspoilers on twitter and these are the songs:

    Candice Glover – “Chasing Pavements” by Adele
    Candice Glover – “I (Who Have Nothing)” by Ben E. King (Reprise)
    Candice Glover – “I Am Beautiful” (Coronation Single)
    Kree Harrison – “All Cried Out” (Coronation Single)
    Kree Harrison – “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
    Kree Harrison – “Up To The Mountain (M.K.K. Song)” by Patty Griffin/Solomon Burke (Reprise)

    Wonder if all the songs were chosen by the contestants this time. Mmmm. Pretty good songs I must say but it seems that all songs aren’t uptempo, except for Chasing Pavements. Angel is a tricky one. It’s a very slow quite sleepy song and if Kree won’t bring her A game to the song it will be very very bland. Sarah Simmons from The Voice failed to impress with that song, too.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Candice was asking on her Twitter account what people wanted to hear again. It looked pretty close between IWHN, Lovesong & Somewhere. I think IWHN got picked cuz she’s doing another Adele song.

    • HTGR says:

      I think Candice has the easier path. Angel and such can be awesome but is Kree’s voice pure enough and will so go all crazy with runs and make a mess like Sarah did? If it works it could really work though.

      • Jushi says:

        Yep. Even Sarah’s studio version ain’t clicking with me. I think an acoustic version of Angel will work with Kree. If she chooses to play the guitar herself this time and make it as a solo, intimate performance while keeping the runs and acrobatics at the minimum, the delivery might be amazing.

  3. Scott says:

    I’d keep Keith and Nicki, and bring in an unknown record company executive and cap the panel at three. I definitely don’t want Harry Connick Jr. as a judge. Nicki has been interesting and honest all season, and I do agree that Keith has so much visible passion for music I wouldn’t want him to go.

    Also: Those clips of Hollie had me laughing out of control, glad to have you back Jason!

    • Lola says:

      I agree. I would like to see both Keith and Nicki return. But I’d rather see another performer than a record company executive, although I understand your logic. I liked Harry Connick. I’d also like to see Josh Groban (but I agree that we only need 3 judges). Or another rocker maybe. Also, what happened to mentoring??

  4. Mark says:

    First of all, I want to thank the producers of Idology for the Orphan Black snippets. It’s the second best show currently airing, and anyone who isn’t watching it should check it out. Now, let me say a few things about the final two. I think the two best of the original top forty are in the final. Despite blatant producer manipulation along the way, the voters got this one right. As for the Angie fans who vehemently disagree, I think the margin between Angie and Kree is razor thin. If Angie had beaten out Kree I would not have been disappointed. Angie has a better stage presence (and way too much camera presence), and she is able to draw on her inner fire, whereas Kree sometimes struggles to find that flame. Angie can dial it up to ten and even eleven, when necessary, but Kree sometimes can’t get past eight or nine. However, Kree has a such purity in her tone, and she appeals to the vast country fan base, so I am only mildly surprised that she made it. At this stage, I think Kree is more ready to make a record, while Angie is better suited for live performances. They both would have been worthy of the finale, and I can’t fault the voters for making their choices. Finally, a word about the judges. Get rid of all of them. I won’t miss Randy at all. He has said nothing original in at least nine seasons. It’s about time they kicked him off the gravy train. He contributed nothing to the show. Mariah occasionally had something useful to add, but she took too long to make what often times was a minor point. They don’t need a heavyweight performer to anchor the panel. They need someone with personality and the ability to give concise, honest feedback, while getting along with the other panelists. I thought the Nicki hire was disaster, but once the auditions were over she was actually the most astute judge, for a while. But then her craziness took over, and she became toxic. It doesn’t matter if you like her or hate her, the fact is that she drove viewers away from the show. She has to go. Unfortunately, Keith should probably pack his bags, as well. I’m not a country fan, and I wasn’t impressed with his addition to the panel when it was announced. However, he did a competent job for most of the season, But when he boarded the EGOT for Amber rocket ship along with everyone else, he lost all credibility with me. He is eminently likeable, but I no longer trust him. Whoever they choose, the next panel should be people who identify and develop talent, and not just be stars with big names and bigger egos. I nominate Linda Perry, Babyface, and I don’t know, is Garth Brooks still retired? Start talking to them quietly, get them together for a week or so, and see if they mesh. No more feuds, rivalries, and meltdowns. Restore credibility. Oh, and get rid of Jimmy as well. He has some good insight, but he is terrible in front of the camera. It’s bad TV whenever his creepy sixty-year-old-but-dressing-like-a-sixteen-year-old face is on screen. Let Ryan be the link to the past. Clean house, update themes and song lists, and get Harry Connick Jr. to be a permanent mentor, kind of the TIm Gunn of Idol.

  5. Thank you so much for the Candice and Kree Youtube recommendations. They were amazing, especially Candice’s “Bound to You”. It is a crime that she didn’t get to sing that live.

  6. Matt says:

    You have a right to think Mariah isn’t good as a judge, but it isn’t fair to say she doesn’t enjoy it. She may not like being harsh, but she clearly enjoyed getting to know the contestants, giving them advice, etc. She had great relationships with pretty much all of them, referred to their past performances, researched songs before they performed them, took some of them to the studio with her. She’d be a great mentor; she needed to be more in Jimmy’s role.

  7. Get rid of them all. This season needed SOMEONE to rise to the occasion with spirit and positivity. Keith didn’t. He was just an extra judge. The fact that he was the best of a bad lot doesn’t say much. The salaries IDOL pays calls for people to bring it.

    I would love to see Harry Connick Jr. as a judge. He would lead the panel and have an edge. They might need to surround him with amiable or diplomatic people ‘cos I can see him being antagonistic towards those who disagree with him. But he could be worth it.

  8. Davey says:

    Keep Keith Urban. The hottest male judge they’ve had on Idol who also knows what he’s talking about. They were lucky they had him this year. He should have been on The Voice.

  9. init2winitdawg says:

    I have no idea who will win, I am pulling for Candice but you can not underestimate Kree’s fanbase after she knocked out Angie. My wife who votes every now and then and does not follow the show as much said after watching Kree’s hometown visit package, “it was a wrap” she was going to make the finale. It was a tear jerker plus she sang the next song well. Angie’s “all-american suburban girl” look just did not have a chance after that.

    • syb says:

      I’m pretty sure Kree’s going to win, even though I’ll be voting Candice.

      But then I was pretty sure Angie was going to win, so…

  10. Yo says:

    Well, Michael and Melinda, I used to think putting together one of these shows was rocket science. It isn’t. TPTB keep screwing up song choices – and judge choices – because they are dumb. As posts. For professionals in a creative medium, those running the contest show not an iota of creativity, and continually look to other television for innovation (judges with chemistry) instead of showing some. Song choice comes up as a problem every year and folks all over the internet kvetch about it, but does it ever change??? Yes, they micromanage; I think they micromanaged male talent right out of the show this year, but they can’t keep their grimy mitts off. And they probably never will until they get rid of the entire creative crew – including the French lady with the fancy name.

    As for the judges, I think Mariah Carey, who I have never been a big fan of, is not bad: she gives decent criticism and she cares, the latter not being anything I would ever attribute to Randy. Mariah is verbose. They could have fixed that by practicing before they were on television, but they did not because they wanted the show to be about the judges, not the contestants. Keith is not bad, either. But they certainly need to be more selective and they need to leave their core demographic alone: the demo is old ladies, but they buy stuff, vote and drag their kids in front of the teevee to watch family shows. Idol will never be hip, but it can be interesting. They need to get over it.

  11. Erika says:

    If they wanted so badly for Angie to play the piano or for Kree to feel the song, they should have let them have a contestant’s choice round. With no time to prepare songs they didn’t know before, it would have made much more sense to allow them to do a song they already knew.

  12. Lola says:

    Keep Keith and Vicki. He knows his stuff and gives constructive critiques. Nicki knows her stuff too, and while she is out there, I’ve heard her be the only one to say something that made me nod my head yes. I like the dynamic of four judges. I liked Harry until he started arguing about the melody. I agree with him, but it got a little to contentious. Xtina would be very good but I doubt she’s looking for another judging job. I’d also like to see Josh Groban. OR another rocker – loved Stephen Tyler.

  13. Alienate says:

    Keys to an Idol resurgence:
    AXE Nigel
    THREE Person Judge’s Panel
    LIMIT voting like on the Voice

    And, with so many talented former Idol Standouts, try a one season panel of 3 prior Idols.
    Choose from over 20 people:
    Adam, Melinda, Kelly, David, Fantasia, Carrie, Chris, the list is long and varied and would keep the show more focused on the contestants, not the Panel.

    • Lisa says:

      That is similar to my comment. How would you feel about an all Idol panel with at least one of the seats being a rotating formal Idol or Idol blogger? Idol has successful working artists. That is something The Voice doesn’t have. They should capitalize on that. Kelly and Adam would be my first choice for the two permanent judges.

  14. Volcfom says:

    I haven’t finished watching yet, but I just had to say – Melinda, you look beautiful!

  15. daynamonet says:

    I saw what the contestants are singing for the finale.

    Candice -chasing pavements (adele); i who have nothing (reprise); coronation song “i am beautiful”

    Kree – angel (sarah maclachlan); up to the mountain (reprise); coronation song “all cried out”

    Should be a good finale. Im most excited about there original songs

  16. Jushi says:

    It’ll be awesome to see Candice have a duet with Mariah and Kree with Keith on Thursday.

  17. Ann says:

    Random thoughts:
    Candice Reprise song choice: strategic error. I adore IWHN as much as any Candice song … but a) it’s old (not current); b) been done to death on AI. She (and Kree) asked fans via Twitter what they wanted and each complied it would seen… still, granting that, I was hoping she would go w/ ‘Ordinary People.’ Fresh take on a modern/current song and she just soars on it vocally and had such personality & stage presence delivering those lyrics. I watch the YT in amazement. I don’t know how she improves on IWHN and suspect the overusage and age of that song will get dinged by judges.
    Vocal strength: been following the AI twitter accounts for both finalists. Candice is prolific and Kree, nary a peep (tweet). I worry Candice is over ‘socializing’ and not getting proper rest, etc. She has been instructed to be on
    ‘vocal rest’ nearly every day since last week, but admits on Twitter not being able to adhere to it. I get that, but am concerned she will not be at full strength for this critical week.
    Singing Order: either incredibly kind & classy move by Kree (who I also love) or an sign of respect one singer to another … doesn’t want to have to follow Candice? A bit of both? Brave of Kree to open the show — she may feel she’s got this.
    And well she may. Could be top vote getter all season. We don’t know. Have pondered the irony that Kree may actually be the Jordin Sparks of this season …. always in the mix, just ‘kreeping’ along, gaining momentum and voting blocks as things consolidate.
    I think both are incredible singers and while my heart belongs to Candice, think Kree will win. No matter who prevails, I always feel bad for the 2nd place finisher, as they get lost in the big win announcement and unlike previous placing finalists, think they miss out on post-show press, appearances, etc.
    Well, this got l

    • In it to win it, dawg! says:

      Totally agree Ordinary People should have been the choice. It was not seen by a lot of viewers because it was not performed in the top 10 and it allows Candice to showcase with a more uptempo song. IWHN, I don’t know how she can improve on her first performance so she has to at least replicated it.
      Unless one of the singers totally bombs, which I do not think is going to happen, I really believe the winner will be based on whose fans vote the most. Their styles are so different so I do not believe tonight will sway any voters and many people may just split their votes, lol.

      • teatime says:

        I see your point about Ordinary People. I don’t think reprise songs usually help contestants very much. Unless the contestant really only has a couple signature songs that will get their fans voting, the contestant would be better off performing a new song that also works well for them. They gain no momentum by just reminding the audience of a song they already heard and liked. At least with Ordinary People a lot of the audience might not have been watching the first time she sang it or might not have been paying a lot of attention to her at the time if they had other favorites.
        With IWHN she gets to sing a song that has been done often and well on the show. Some percentage of the audience seems to prefer familiar songs. I personally have never seen any evidence that contestants win by singing familiar songs. In fact I see a lot of evidence of the opposite. To boot, IWHN is the song Jordan won with. It will be a bit shocking if Candice wins by singing a song another winner is famous for. The only thing that might save her is that she sang it very differently. Still, I think she got very bad advice from whoever suggested to her it would be a good idea to sing Jordin’s song. I’ll still vote for her. A lot. Because she has been my favorite this year and I think she has been a good contestant and she has a great voice. But if she does not win I will blame it on the few occasions when she picked songs that have been already on the show too many times. That is not a winner’s strategy.

        • teatime says:

          As it happens, Kree’s reprise song is Up to the Mountain. That is one of Crystals most famous performance songs and it is a song Crystal sang in the finale of her year. So I guess it is a wash that each contestants loses points for redoing a song some previous winner or runner-up is well known for singing on the show.

  18. Roz says:

    Looking forward to the Kree/Candice Finale. America got it right, as did Michael, as did I.
    Praying for a Kree win, she gives me goosebumps. Haley Reinhart is still my favorite but I am very happy for Kree, she’s amazing.

  19. Ann says:

    (Oops! Sorry. Tiny phone buttons hit send too soon!)
    Closing: Well … this got long.
    And … go Candice!!!

  20. Guitar Blue says:

    Candice is the Vegas Line favorite to win. …

    Fox chief exec said that “all the judges are welcome back next year” – but that is usually a way to let the judges “save face” before there are “troubles with the contract” and the soft boot is given on the back room………

    Indications are that this could be the lowest rated finale, in terms of the 18 to 49 viewing demographic — in many years. But still, if 12 million or more tune-in, that’s a pretty big audience.

  21. Jongirl says:

    My dream judges panel (pick three): Adam Lambert, Harry Connick, Jr., Shania Twain, Josh Groban (someone who knows about real classical singing, not today’s chanting or wailing), Neil Patrick Harris, Aretha Franklin. Keep Keith if he can get the guts to speak his own mind. He was good early in the season.

  22. In it to win it, dawg! says:

    I need Candice’s original song to hit me like when I first heard Whitney’s You Give Good Love or Mariah’s Vision of Love. Instantly I knew I was listening to something special, in fact I remember exactly where I was at when I first heard Whitney. Candice has that kind of potential with the right material.

  23. Dee says:

    I am definitely going to check out those youtube songs they mentioned, especially Kree’s original! I really like Keith I would be totally fine with him coming back I think he is good for the show but it would also be good to see him get back on the country road. I don’t think American Idol will ever be the same but I still think its great, too me it is still the show that brings the contestants the most success. I hope they continue making it they might just need to switch this up a bit and if that means a whole new panel then that is what they should do.

  24. Steve Z says:

    When I heard Kree was doing “Perfect” I was hoping she was going to turn it into a lullaby with just her in a rocking chair and a single acoustic guitar… I think that would have played out very well.

    I was hoping Candice was going to do “No Diggity” or at least one song that was a little more Urban/R&B

  25. Dadang says:

    Judges of that caliber (Contemporary of Tyra Banks in the music industry) for IDOL. Very straightforward without appearing ill-mannered. She criticizes end to end (from the modelling skills to personality) without awkwardness. Eloquent speaker, not boring.

  26. marie says:

    Tues. 5/21: Where, oh where is the Finale edition of Idology? Don’t mean to nag but I’m really looking forward to it!

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