'American Idol' recap: Can we send the judges home instead?

Although no one went home last week on "American Idol," one of the four remaining singers will be cut this week, Ryan Seacrest assured us on Wednesday night. After all, he said, there are only two weeks left until the finale.

And just to boost the stakes, this week's results -- which will factor in both this week's and last week's votes -- determine not only who moves on in the competition, but also who will be among the three singers to get the "Idol" queen-for-a-day homecoming treatment.

Who will go home disappointed to have come so close and yet be denied? Angie Miller, the big-voiced, theatrical piano player? Amber Holcomb, the long-legged beauty with dimples and powerful pipes? Candice Glover, the soulful vocalist who inhabits every single song she sings, slipping into them like a satin evening gown? Or Kree Harrison, the kind-hearted country crooner with a voice like a caress?

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It will be one of them. Judging from her tears and her presence in the bottom two last week, Holcomb is clearly concerned it will be her. And it might be. I just hope it won't be Glover, who was also in last week's bottom two, or Harrison -- my two favorites.

Honestly, it's just too bad we can't send a few of the judges home instead. On Wednesday night's show, they squabbled, contradicted themselves and in some cases simply declined to comment at all. It was a drag.

But back to the contestants, who were each tasked with singing two songs apiece: a 2013 release and a standard. They would be mentored, for a change, not by Jimmy Iovine (maybe he was avoiding Nicki Minaj after last week's dustup?), but by Harry Connick Jr.

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Coming off her impressive performances last week, Miller seemed to flag a bit on Wednesday. The judges didn't really like her acoustic arrangement of Rihanna's "Diamonds," even though she performed it seated at her piano, where they usually adore her. They felt it lacked muscle. Minaj called it "bland" and "lackluster."

Miller's second song, a pageant-y take on "Someone to Watch Over Me," impressed the judges a bit more. Keith Urban complimented her vocal timbre, clarity and presence, though Minaj compared Miller to a Disney princess. It wasn't clear to anyone, including Miller herself, whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. (It may also have been a slam on Mariah Carey, who recently cast herself as a Disney princess to renew her vows. Moments later, the two were clashing over who said what about whom -- and Minaj was offering Carey a Q-tip to clean out her ears. Ugh.)

Holcomb, though she'd hoped to redeem herself after a controversial week, got raked over the coals by the judges for her round-one performance of Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason." "Not stellar," Randy Jackson declared. Only Urban offered positive words. Noting the difficulty of the song, he said the "clarity" and "bell" of Holcomb's voice were "fantastic."

Holcomb looked gorgeous when she returned to sing her standard, "My Funny Valentine," having been schooled on the lyrics' meaning by Connick. Shaky at first, she strengthened on the second half of the song, earning a standing ovation from the judges. Minaj, who is, it must be said, rather looks-oriented, compared Holcomb to "a beautiful budding red rose." Jackson called it "stellar." But Holcomb was in tears, as was her father, watching from the audience.

"You're up there crying because you're thinking about votes," Minaj reassured her, saying the votes didn't matter because she was "already a superstar."

Glover, who joined Holcomb in last week's bottom two, may have saved herself by performing spectacularly, twice. In round one, she made an unexpected choice, singing Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man," despite the fact that she is a woman. Jackson launched into his "if you can sing, you can sing anything" routine (which contradicts his "all about song choice" routine, but whatever). Carey, who may be Glover's biggest fan at the judges' table, said Glover's musicality, which allowed her to take any song and "change it to suit her," separated her from "almost anyone else" in the competition. Urban called it a "winning performance," noting that when someone sings as well as Glover did, they could sing "When I was your giraffe" and pull it off.

Even Minaj had kind words for Glover, saying she'd given her "every single thing" she'd been looking for from her. Glover had arrived as a diva, Minaj said. And by the way, she wondered, had she lost weight?

Glover's second song, Billie Holiday's "You've Changed," was nothing short of exquisite. The judges gave her her second standing ovation of the night. Jackson declared she was "in it to win it, y'all." Carey complimented her "subtleties" and "texture," and called Glover "anointed." Urban said he loved watching Carey watch Glover. And Minaj, for some reason, refused to comment. I guess, if she doesn't have anything not nice to say about a Carey fave, she'd rather not say anything at all? Or was she trying to spare votes for her own fave, Holcomb?

Kree Harrison, faulted last week for failing to connect with viewers, vowed to do better, and did. She certainly connected with Connick, who said he was ready to help her make an album, if she asked. Harrison sang Carrie Underwood's "See You Again" in round one, delivering a passionate performance while -- incongruously, Urban said -- sitting on a stool with a guitar player nearby. The other judges received it more enthusiastically. Carey called Harrison "authentic." Minaj said she "sang with her eyes." And Jackson called it a "great vocal." Even Connick rushed out to congratulate her. "Didn't she kill it?" he asked the audience.

Harrison's round-two song, a lush take on "Stormy Weather," despite a head trip from Connick, didn't go over quite as well. The judges seemed to wish she'd selected a different song, or perhaps a different version of the same song, yet still admired her vocals. They also posited that perhaps Connick had messed with the singers' heads, prompting him to join them at the judging table for a spirited debate with Jackson that Seacrest said rivaled Minaj and Carey's spats. Sigh. Guys, can't we all just get along?

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