• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'American Idol' Recap: Three Remain After 'Toughest Cut' of the Season

David Cook returns to lend emotional support and Nicki Minaj opts to be positive.

American Idol season 12 final 3 L
Michael Becker / Fox

American Idol’s top four elimination night results show is notoriously the most emotional night of the season. With no more saves left, there is plenty on the line, including the show’s famed hometown visits for the top three remaining Idols.

And who did Idol have on hand to lend emotional support for the occasion? Season seven winner David Cook (pictured below), who offered the remaining girls sage advice: “You're gonna cry. I did. And I don't ever cry. That's a lie. That rhymed a lot."

And in the end, after 81 million votes -- including 38 million carried over from last week -- those tears were shed. Host Ryan Seacrest declared it “the toughest cut of the season,” as Idol said goodbye to the pretty, poised judges' favorite Amber Holcomb, who fought back tears and eventually became overwhelmed with emotion during her goodbye song, “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston.

PHOTOS: 'American Idol' Season 12: The Red Carpet Interviews

This really wasn’t that huge of a shock, considering Holcomb had been teetering toward the bottom for several weeks. Holcomb certainly had her shining moments this season, earning admiration and over-praising from all four judges and Jimmy Iovine. But her final two performances of Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” and the standard, “My Funny Valentine,” wasn’t enough to return the 19-year old to a homecoming parade in Texas.

That leaves three stellar contestants still in the game: Angie Miller, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison.

All four judges looked sad to see Holcomb go, but Nicki Minaj opted to be positive--a welcome change from her Twitter rant  Thursday against Mariah Carey--telling all four that they have long careers ahead of them, which will rival the top acts currently on the charts.

“You four are all superheroes, and I really, really mean that, "she said. “All four of the judges, we clearly love you. ... I'm just happy that America got the best four of the competition to the top four."

So who has what it takes to get to the top two? If you were paying attention to Iovine, Glover has the edge.

STORY: 'Idol' Panic: Could New Judges Save the Show?

“If I were Bruno Mars I would write a song for Candice’s album right now,” he said as he praised her performance of “When I Was Your Man.”

The mentor still has a soft spot for Miller, although he conceded her rendition of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” wasn’t “good enough.”

“I think Angie had the opportunity to shut the whole competition down,” he said. “It wasn’t special enough, but it wasn’t bad enough to send her home.”

As for Harrison, he feels that the Nashville girl “hasn’t lived up to her full potential.”

Next week’s homecoming shows will give the judges the opportunity to assign a song to each singer to give the Idols a chance to shine. I am putting in a plea for something upbeat. Am I the only one getting tired of maudlin ballads every week? PICK UP THE PACE, IDOL!

Thursday night’s show had some bright spots. There was the return of Cook and the debut of his new song, “Laying Me Low." How many of you smiled when Carey talked about Cook’s version of her hit, “Always Be My Baby”? It was nice to hear her give our favorite “word nerd” props.

Our heart also beat faster during the too brief package promoting Constantine Maroulis, currently starring on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde. Sigh. He’s still as charming as ever, and we loved his final line, when he said he portrayed his greatest role on the show: as Constantine. Go see Jekyll and Hyde. You’ll thank me.

Also, will.i.am was on hand with a truly mind-boggling and busy performance of his new song, “Big Bang,” from The Great Gatsby. He scatted. He had dancers doing the Charleston. He tap danced. This segment completely confused my five-year old, who thought we were watching Dancing With The Stars and not Idol.

STORY: 'American Idol' and the Theory of '3': Is Every Third Season a Dud?

Which brings me to my next point. Do we really need all these dancers for the group numbers? Is this So You Think You Can Dance, now? Thank God Wednesday night’s mentor, Harry Connick Jr., was on hand not only to serve up a new song, "Every Man Should Know," but also to show how easily a song can be conveyed without all the distractions.

“After last night, I'm surprised there were no runs," said Seacrest.

None needed. But what we do need is a little bit of Harry every week. What say you, Idol Worshippers? Should we add Harry to the panel?

Also: let’s help the judges assign songs for Angie, Candice, and Kree. I think we can come up with something!

Twitter: @Idol_Worship @MicheleAmabile

Frank Micelotta / FOX