As much as -- for weeks and weeks -- I have wanted Candice Glover and Kree Harrison to be the two singers to make it to the "American Idol" finals next week, it gave me no joy to see Angie Miller weep her way through her goodbye song after her elimination Thursday.
Although we haven't been given specifics about the outcomes of the vote for a while, the race at the top has seemed ultra-close, nearly from the beginning, and Miller at points seemed poised to potentially take the win. Her elimination, while not quite a shocker, wasn't a foregone conclusion either.
It probably wasn't Miller's vocals that did her in. Those were always -- always -- crystal clear and spot on, pitch-wise. And I didn't mind her tendency to clearly enunciate her lyrics. Since when was making sure the audience understood you a crime, or even a misstep?
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And I can't even able to point the finger solely on Miller's sometimes self-conscious performance style. She's only 19, after all, and a recently graduated high school drama geek. Surely some of that is to be expected.
No, I think what spelled Miller's "Idol" doom was her youth and a certain lack of gravity that came with it. That fluttery handclap she did, the little excited jumps, the squeals about her cat, Fluffy -- those girlish mannerisms contrasted with the emotionally heavy back stories of Harrison (the lush-voiced, upbeat orphan, making her way alone in the music industry) and Glover (the glimmering gem of a talent doggedly pursuing her chance to emerge from her remote island home and shine before the world) and made Miller seem like a lightweight.
That disparity was never so apparent as it was in the "Idol" homecoming video packages on Wednesday. The producers tried to craft a storyline of resilience, a theme of "Boston Strong," because Miller is from the Boston area, but it didn't quite ring true. Out from behind her piano, where in the immediate aftermath of the marathon attacks she had scored emotional points by dedicating a song to her hometown, Miller couldn't manage to muster a suitable sense of sadness. In a city still stunned by tragedy, her sunny smile seemed, if not ill-placed, at least ill-timed.
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In fact, it was only seated behind a massive piano that Miller was able to counterbalance the two other Top 3 women. Clearly, not performing Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" on the piano, as Jimmy Iovine had intended, and delivering the big moment he'd envisioned for her, proved a fatal competitive mistake for Miller. As risky as it would have been to play a song with little time to learn it, given the stakes, it probably was a risk worth taking.
One thing you can't say about Miller, though, is that she's a quitter. She proved that even as she stepped out to sing her exit song, Colton Dixon's "Never Gone." Although she was choking back sobs, Miller kept trying to sing. She didn't give up. And at 19, she'll probably have many chances to make that persistence pay off.
Miller may not have won the "Idol" crown, but she won a lot of fans during her run on the show. It assuredly won't be long before we see her triumphantly return -- a music-industry winner (though hopefully not looking as alarmingly old before her time as Lauren Alaina did this week) -- to the show's stage. Maybe she'll follow Colton Dixon onto the Christian music charts.
(I sincerely hope she makes better choices than Mariah Carey did with that creepily objectifying video for her new single, "#Beautiful," that aired on Thursday night's show, which seemed to send a message that was the opposite of empowering. Definitely not #pow. May Miller rather be inspired by Alicia Keys, whose performance during the show defined true beauty -- and dignity.)
In the meantime, here's looking forward to a great season finale week, when -- in the oft-spoken words of soon-to-be-departing judge Randy Jackson -- we'll find out, once and for all, who really is in it to win it. May the best woman emerge the victor.
Who do you hope takes top honors?