We're already to the last group of singers. One of them is Ashlee Feliciano, who has exchanged her giant supportive family for a flatiron to sing Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years," starting really low and ending way high up here. Randy gives her (and the other contestants in the audience) a hard time about song choice and how this is supposed to be fun. Very helpful, Randy, I'm sure they're all going to go out to the lobby and start practicing one of the many happy tunes I'm sure y'all put on the list instead of what they've already chosen and rehearsed. Sure enough, we cut to a montage of highly earnest women bringing the room down, at least until Melinda Ademi comes out to sing a song that's literally about how people are too serious. The judges appreciate her lightening the mood, to say the least, and she looks like a genius who pays attention.
Then it's time for Kree Harrison, who got nixed by Randy at the Oklahoma City auditions and dinged by Nicki last night. She's singing "Stars" by Grace Potter and the fact that she tells her story about losing both her parents at 12 and 19 doesn't bode well for her future in the competition, because that seems like something they'd want to cram in right before she leaves. But she manages to pull off the song, turning it into a country number but doing a decent job. Keith takes credit for her still even being in the competition and the other judges seem to have come around as well. When it's judgment time for this group, Kree and Melinda go through and Ashlee is done, as is Briana Oakley, who will have to go home and change schools again. A girl named Serena is inconsolable, possibly because this is the first time I recall seeing her.
At 10:37, the 24 women left in the competition are called to the stage for an update. Ryan remarks to the judges that they need to cut the 24 down to 20, which I'm sure all of them are already aware of with the possible exceptions of Randy and Mariah. Lauren Mink, Holly Marie Miller and Ariel Sprague are summarily cut loose, leaving 21. Yes, those names seem familiar to me too, but it's too late. We've still got too way many people in this competition to rattle off from memory. Randy basically announces that the last cut will be determined by an impromptu sing-off. Stephanie Schimel, the chick with the giant mane of white-blonde hair, is the first to be put on the spot. We flash back to her Chicago audition -- where Keith was more impressed with her than Nicki was -- as well as her success in the early Hollywood auditions and up to today. It all says exit-edit, but she sings Phillip Phillips's "Home" for her last chance and steps it up, making Keith feel vindicated. Inveterate grinner Rachel Hale is called up to try to make up for her piss-poor solo performance earlier today, a short clip of which is more than enough to have to endure. She sings the same song here, but better -- though not better than Stephanie. The judges apparently disagree, though, because Randy cuts Stephanie, and then congratulates the top twenty females. Several of whom we'll probably see again at some point.