american idol top 4 kree harrison amber holcomb fox 'American Idol' Top 4: The judges make it clear they want Amber over Kree

We mere mortals can’t always tell a “good” performance from a “great” performance on “American Idol.” That’s one explanation for the disconnect between the beautiful singing of Candice Glover and Kree Harrison and the judges’ mostly negative reactions.

Considering that Amber Holcomb and Angie Miller received positive reviews for what seemed to be only marginally better performances, another explanation may be the judges making it clear who they want in the finale.

Honestly, unless I’m unexpectedly tone deaf, the second theory is the one I’m going with.

Amber, Amber, Amber …

Just in case you’ve been retreating to a cave during every bit of judge commentary throughout “Idol” Season 12, the judges like Amber. They like her a lot and have been justifiably irritated that America doesn’t seem to share the sentiment. Despite a whole bunch of consistently good performances, Amber has rarely seen voting numbers to match.

The judges have been compensating for this in recent weeks with praise. A lot of praise. While I’d be the first to agree that Amber deserves every bit of positive feedback she gets, the judging bias is getting rather odd. It’s almost like someone decided that the only way to build up Amber is to tear down everybody else.

Words used to describe Amber this week included “commanding,” “dominating,” “incredible,” “blooming flower” and “stellar.” No one else in the Top 4 heard anything even a little like that.

Will it work? It might, considering that the judges are meant to be the arbiters of talent on this show. On the other hand, voters have their own brains, and those brains might start to rebel if the judging table crams one singer down our throats too much.

Amber might also have suffered for choosing to sing “MacArthur Park.” I mean, she did it well. But … “MacArthur Park”? Seriously?

What exactly was wrong with Kree?

Kree, meanwhile, got little but criticism for her performances. For her contestants’ choice solo, Nicki Minaj all but told Kree she was doomed to go home. The criticism, especially from Nicki, continued for the duet, in which Amber earned praise for “almost dominating” while Kree was told she wasn’t in the song.

In fact, Nicki literally began screaming at Kree in her “critique,” repeating the idea that Kree was out. Was Amber all that much better? The answer is probably no, but reality has never stopped Nicki Minaj from doing or saying anything.

The really interesting comparison comes with the issue of song choice. Kree’s worst criticism of the night was for her song choice. Sure, the judges might not have been entirely wrong, but keep in mind what the other singers chose. Like “MacArthur Park,” for example …

The judges couldn’t fault “A Whiter Shade of Pale” too much. But Keith Urban tried, referring to the song as “middle ground” about a dozen times. And Nicki Minaj put her on the bottom again.

Sing out, Candice!

Before she sang on Wednesday, Candice told me how she didn’t want to just do what was expected of her. “They shouldn’t be like ‘Okay, big voice coming up on stage again,'” Candice said when explaining why she chose a Drake song.

Apparently, Candice can’t avoid the comments — not from the judges anyway. Randy Jackson accused the singer of relying on her “big voice” too much in a song that was supposed to be different. In a case like that, what was Candice to do?

Even Candice’s second song, which did please the judges, mostly just led to more praise for Amber.

And then there’s Angie

Here’s the thing — Angie Miller has spent much of the past couple of weeks doing exactly what the judges want. It’s a good plan, considering that neither her singing nor her stage presence are the best in the Top 4.

The results have been positive for Angie’s performances and even more positive for the judges’ opinions on those performances. Angie really is impressive when performing at the piano, and she has spent a lot of time there in the past few weeks.

She’s still not the favorite of the judges, but they’re cool with her sticking around. As long as she stays behind the piano.

Will the judges’ comments make a difference on which singers make the finale? Will audiences agree? Thursday’s results will be interesting for the answers if nothing else.

Posted by:Laurel Brown