While Ryan does his introduction, the camera spins around in the center of what turns out to be a circle made up of him and the top ten guys, like an episode of That '70s Show. I feel surrounded. And oddly threatened. I think Charlie's my escape route, though.
We come back from the credits with not one but two people in the audience right next to each other holding up homemade signs that read, "What Mariah says, goes." I hope at least one of them reads "...in one ear and out the other" on the flip side. Ryan comes out onstage and introduces the judges, and invites Randy to explain why the judges disagree sometimes. He says it happens, and they all agree. So much for that point. Ryan also gets some comments from Keith, but since it's guys night, Nicki and Mariah just get to sit on their hands while Ryan goes right to introducing tonight's performers: Elijah Liu, Cortez Shaw, Charlie Askew, Nick Boddington, Burnell Taylor, Paul Jolley, Lazaro Arbos, Curtis Finch, Jr., Devin Velez, and Vincent Powell. Okay, some of those guys are good, but I couldn't remember a single one of them during last night's show.
We're starting with Elijah, who is letting his appeal to the ladies going right to his flat-topped head, judging by his comments during his intro reel. He's doing "Stay" by Rihanna, starting out slow and staying there. At least the song doesn't ask much of his voice, which seems rather high and thin to me. Keith gives him credit for his control, which is a nice way of saying Randy's going to thump him in a minute. Nicki's still got a crush on Elijah and says he's very marketable. Randy says it's an improvement over last week and agrees with Nicki about his marketability, but it stayed in first gear (called it). Mariah thought it was one of his better performances, which isn't exactly overwhelming praise. She doesn't disagree with Randy, and adds that Elijah's "relevancy" is his strongest point. She's getting really good at softening her blows so much they sound like compliments. When Ryan comes out to agree with Mariah's tangential comments about how there's a trend of intimate songs going on right now, he asks Elijah about his reaction to seeing Rihanna do that song at the Grammys. Elijah says it hit him in the heart, and he's hoping to hit people in the heart too. I don't know, he might have to do it one person at a time, and do it literally.
Cortez Shaw talks in his intro reel that he's all about feedback, and promises to have taken it into account to fix himself. Though he admits it doesn't always work. Tonight he's doing "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars with some funky footwork, and for a moment I'm actually startled; I thought there was a rule against up-tempo songs for this stage of the competition. I have to admit it's a nice change, and Cortez hits almost all the notes, so I've got no complaints.