By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — BEVERLY — Angela Miller sparkled under the spotlight of “American Idol” again last night — and the city of Beverly was right there with her onstage.
With the end of the competition quickly approaching, the 19-year-old Beverly High School graduate showcased her talent with renditions of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” Pink’s “Try” and “Maybe” by Emeli Sande.
All of her performances brought accolades from the show’s judges, but it remains to be seen whether Miller will earn enough votes from the viewing public to outdo contestants Candice Glover and Kree Harrison. One of the three women will be voted off the show tonight.
In between Miller’s performances, the show brought Beverly into focus on the national stage with a “hometown visits” segment shot during her visit last weekend.
The show followed her arrival in Boston and journey up to Beverly, where crowds of well-wishers seemed to be waiting around every corner. Miller visited with friends at a coffee shop, stopped by the Centerville School, greeted her parents on the front lawn of their Essex Street house — and waved excitedly to supporters everywhere she went.
In one scene, a jubilant Miller surveyed the estimated 15,000 people who had gathered to hear her sing at Beverly High on Saturday and said, “I can’t even see the end of this crowd!”
“This is incredible,” she said. “I mean, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Each contestant performed three songs last night — one chosen each by critic Jimmy Iovine, the judges and the show’s producers.
Miller’s first was “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” by Elton John. The judges reacted favorably but questioned why Miller hadn’t performed it at the piano, a strength of hers; Miller said she didn’t think she could have done the song justice that way.
“I’ve felt that this was one of the best performances I’ve seen you do,” Mariah Carey said. “I thought it was really good, Angie.”
Miller’s second song — Pink’s “Try” — went over especially well with the judges, who commended her for going beyond her “comfort zone” with an upbeat-tempo song and for appearing so comfortable on stage — and again, without a piano to rely on.
“That song fit you like a glove,” said Randy Jackson. “You sounded amazing on it.”
Miller performed her last song of the night, Emeli Sande’s “Maybe,” back at the piano — and was met with unanimous praise afterward.
“I felt like you really were feeling this song,” said Carey.
“You’re finding your groove, Angie, you really are,” said Keith Urban.
“If nothing else, my god, your growth has surpassed my expectations,” said Nicki Minaj.
One finalist will be eliminated when “American Idol” airs on Fox tonight at 8 p.m.