updated 05/16/2013 AT 6:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/15/2013 AT 9:55 PM ET
The entire season of American Idol came down to three final performances from two dueling divas, country crooner Kree Harrison and R&B singer Candice Glover, on Wednesday night at the Nokia Theater L.A. Live.
At the end of the night, Mariah Carey summed up the competition best. After noting that both women offered something special, she said, “It’s going to be very, very difficult for America tonight.”
But before one note was sung, Kree seemed to have an edge – she got a more rousing round of applause when host Ryan Seacrest asked the studio audience to cheer for their favorite. Then round one seemed to change up the momentum. Here’s how it all played out …
Kree: She started off the night with a song chosen for her by Idol creator Simon Fuller – “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. Her performance was elegant and ethereal but the somber song choice (best known these days for playing over ads against animal cruelty) didn’t leave her much room to show off her personality or the forcefulness of her vocals.
Candice: Fuller chose Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” for Candice, who put her own soulful spin on the song and added the vocal flourishes she’s become known for. The crowd reaction seemed far more enthusiastic for Candice, and judge Randy Jackson backed up that response. “I gotta give the edge in round one to Candice because at least she took the song and tried to make more of it and made some interesting choices,” he said.