One of the biggest stars to grace the stage at the American Idol finale on Thursday night was the talent competition's own Jennifer Hudson.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning performer – looking super slim in a black top and black jeans – took the stage to sing "Inseparable" with finalist Candice Glover.
Though Hudson, who was shockingly eliminated from the top seven of season 3, belted out high note after glorious high note, she let Candice, 23, have her a moment in the spotlight at the end of the song when she stood back and said, "Sing it, Candice."
And sing it she did! Candice held her own, hitting the final notes of the Natalie Cole song.
It couldn't be closer.
Candice Glover and Kree Harrison are in a virtual dead heat as they prepare to find out Thursday night which of them will be the next American Idol.
At this stage, it's less a battle than the final leg of a journey for these two powerful singers, who have become close friends – Harrison even fell asleep on Glover as they lounged around watching TV on Tuesday night, ahead of Wednesday's final performances. ("We just chilled and then she ordered some food," Candice told reporters Wednesday. "Me and Kree are, we get our fix by like coming to the center and knowing what we have to do the next day and getting as much rest as we possibly can.")
Each of them wants to win, of course, but neither seems to feel like the favorite.
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 ...
It's an American Idol showdown!
Season 12's top two, Kree Harrison and Candice Glover, are facing off Wednesday on the final night of competition at the Nokia Theater L.A. Live. And they couldn't be more talented – or different. Kree has an authentic country vibe while Candice is pure R&B diva. They each will sing their "coronation song," a song of their choice from the season and a song chosen by producer Simon Fuller.
Judges Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and the departing Randy Jackson are definitely making their opinions known as the contestants sing one more time for America's votes. But we want to know what you think about the all-female finale as it's happening.
Tweet your thoughts @peoplemag and your comment may end up right here on People.com.
Very little time at Monday's FOX 2013-14 upfront presentation was devoted to the elephant in New York's Beacon Theater – America Idol's
troubled, near-completed season – except to compare the show's long-running success to Gunsmoke's.
This caused a moment's pause, not only with the thought that the incredibly influential, always buzzed-about Idol could ever be gone, but also with the reflection that at some time in the future it would be completely irrelevant. Ah well.
The bulk of FOX's smoothly clockwork presentation, of course, kept an eye on that future, at least a few months from now, with clips of upcoming shows. Nothing looked as remotely silly as last year's short-lived Mob Doctor, which was a relief, and there were several premieres that will have people talking:
She's made the reality television leap from singing on season 5 of American Idol to tearing up the parquet each week on Dancing with the Stars, but even Kellie Pickler thinks there's an Idol alum she'd rather see getting fake tanned and sequined.
Katharine McPhee "would do amazing," Pickler told PEOPLE while at the 20th Annual Race to Erase MS event in Beverly Hills.
The "Best Days of Your Life" singer doesn't have to stretch her imagination too far to explain why she feels the Smash actress would dominate on Dancing with the Stars.
"First of all, she's an amazing performer – obviously a very talented singer," says Pickler, 26, "but if you've seen her show Smash, she's dancing. I really don't think there's anything she can't do."
With Randy Jackson's announcement that he is leaving American Idol, who will take the veteran judge's place?
The answer is probably not Alicia Keys, who performed her new single "Tears Always Win" on the Fox show Thursday night.
"I don't know if I'd want to be a judge," she told reporters after her performance.
The "Girl on Fire" singer did express her dismay that Jackson would be leaving the panel after 12 seasons.
Ryan Seacrest opened up Thursday's American Idol episode with a nod to Randy Jackson's announcement that he's moving on after 12 seasons.
"A little later on we'll be revealing who is leaving our show," Ryan said, standing behind the only remaining original judge. "A little heads up?"
Randy just chuckled.
The joke is that Ryan could have been talking about Idol's super talented top three – Kree Harrison, Angie Miller and Candice Glover, who performed three songs each on Wednesday. They faced one last hurdle before the season 12 finale: another elimination night.
After 12 years at the judge's table, celebrating the soaring voices and putting down the pitchy, Randy Jackson is leaving American Idol.
Alerting his fans with statement beginning "Yo! Yo! Yo!," the exuberant Jackson – the last of the show's original judges, going back to the original Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul days – says he finally wanted to "put all of the speculation to rest" about his future.
Kree Harrison's personal history is among saddest of any contestant in American Idol history. But for everything that fell apart in her life, she is planning to put some of the pieces back together – quite literally.
The singer, who turns 23 next week, lost her father in a plane crash a decade ago, and her mother in a car accident a few years after that.
But now she is planning a project that will help her reconnect with her parents – rebuilding the Texas house she grew up in, which she visited during this week's hometown trips.