After the ads, Ryan pauses to give shout-outs to Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson for their Grammy wins last week. We then move on to Isabelle, the formerly big girl who brought along a few of her "before" photos." I can see the improvement; she definitely looks better as a blonde. Unfortunately, she's doing a lounge version of "God Bless the Child" tonight. She does hit the notes and hits them hard, but the overly jazzy arrangement is just killing her. Keith and Nicki talk about how great she looks and Randy gives her credit for being an inspiration, but that it was a little old-fashioned. Mariah tells Isabelle that she would have preferred a simpler arrangement. Which is funny, because that's how I feel about Mariah Carey's entire 1990s catalog.
Amber Holcomb is 18, and she's back this year after being cut in last season's Vegas round. But she seems determined to step it up this year. She's singing "My Funny Valentine," and actually doing a decent job with so little effort that she occasionally looks bored. But there are lots of note runs in there for Mariah, who can't resist giving a seal-clap after one batch of particularly high notes. All the judges save Nicki are on their feet after that. Keith appreciates her making it look easy and doing a song Randy would call "old-fashioned" but making it her own. Nicki said it was an "A-plus-plus-plus vocal" but is only worried about her personality shining through the TV. Randy says it can, if Amber believes in herself. Mariah says it was so brilliant she wanted to smack her. That would shine through the TV.
So now that everyone who is singing tonight has sung, Ryan announces that the judges' decisions were unanimous, so Jimmy Iovine can stay in his seat. Speaking of seats, it's about to get dramatic all up in here, furniture-wise. There are five empty stools onstage waiting for the five women who will stay in the competition. Even more dramatically, four directors' chairs with the judges sitting in them are raised on a platform from below the stage. Eerily, there is no audible audience reaction to this. I presume that along with the usual "APPLAUSE" sign, this show has a "BOO" sign and an "EERIE SILENCE" sign. Without further preamble, Jenny Beth Willis is trotted out. Keith wastes little time saying it must have been tough for her to kick off the show and she did a good job, but the talent that followed her means she's done. She takes it well, managing to hold it together until she's actually walking off the stage. One camera did catch a pretty serious moment of weepy-face as she walked, though.