So on Wednesday's show, the pressure was on for them to make up ground against Angie Miller and Kree Harrison.
Thanks to an extremely up-and-down night – that featured some controversial coaching by mentor Harry Connick Jr. – they may have done just that.
Candice had an especially good night – earning two standing ovations from the judges. For her first performance – with "songs from 2013" as the theme – she chose Bruno Mars's "When I Was Your Man" and managed to overcome her bad rap for being too old-fashioned.
"You feel and look to me like [a current] artist," Nicki Minaj said.
Keith Urban agreed: "When you sing that good, Candice, that's a winning performance right there," he said.
For her second song, a standard, Candice chose "You've Changed" by "Billie Holiday," which appeared to vastly improve her chances of making it into the next round.
"She brought everything she needed." Randy Jackson said. "It's about feeling what you sing. Speak your truth girl, that was amazing!"
Amber had far more mixed results. For her first performance, she took on Pink's current hit "Just Give Me A Reason." During her practice session with Connick Jr., she couldn't remember the lyrics, but she pulled it together by show time and the crowd seemed to love it. The judges however were unimpressed.
"That was not stellar," said Randy, who sensed that Amber was letting her nerves get to her. "Have fun," he told her. "Let it all go. It has to be fun."
Mariah Carey also sensed that self-doubt was holding Amber back. "We need to see that confident Amber that we have been seeing," she said.
That side of Amber did reappear when she returned to sing "My Funny Valentine" (which she had sung during Vegas week). Her performance had her dad crying in the audience and also left Amber tearing up during critiques.
"It doesn't matter about votes," said Minaj, trying to cheer her up. "You're a superstar, you have fans everywhere. No matter what happens tomorrow you have a lifetime ahead of you to make incredible moments in music, my darling. Please, believe in yourself."
Although she was in the top two last week, Angie Miller won't be resting easy after this week's performances. The judges always love it when she plays the piano – but not this time. For her first song, she chose a stripped-down version of Rihanna's "Diamonds," and the judges felt like something got lost in translation.
"It was bland, it was lackluster, you can do a lot better," said Minaj, who also felt that Angie was playing too much to the cameras.
For her classic song, Angie picked "Someone To Watch Over Me," which got better reviews but still left Minaj feeling like Angie was cut out more for Broadway than a career in pop music. "You always put me in the mind of, like, a Disney princess," she said.
Kree Harrison seemed to wow Connick Jr. right from the start. When she practiced her first song – Carrie Underwood's "See You Again" – in front of him, he said he actually preferred Kree's version over the Idol-turned-superstar's tune.
The judges weren't quite as impressed but mostly felt like Kree had done a good job of connecting to the song.
"That was a great vocal and I felt you," Randy said.
It was with Kree's second song choice – "Stormy Weather" – that Connick Jr.'s mentoring became a point of contention. He kept coaching all the contestants to keep the songs simple, but the judges were longing for the riffs that showed off all of the women's personalities, especially Kree's.
"Always stick to who you are," Randy said, contradicting Harry's advice.
Ryan Seacrest gave Connick a chance to defend himself, but Randy stuck to his guns.
"Kree, always just be you, baby," he said. "We want you to be Kree. That’s all we're interested in."
The final four face elimination on Thursday. Tell us in the comments below whom you think will leave the competition.