Now Ryan's backstage with the ten guys who are still hoping for a chance to sing tonight, and he quickly interviews Jordan and Malcolm. If the pattern from last night repeats itself, only one of them will still be in the competition by the end of the night. Again, Ryan strolls through the corridor to the auditorium while talking, and lets Harry introduce the next guy. Harry makes a joke about the group round's "Backstreet Cowboys" that falls flat, recovering by explaining, "We'll work on colors and shapes next." He could be referring to any one of three guys, including Casey Thrasher or Ben Briley, but the one he means is Dexter Roberts, the farm hand. He worked on "This Old Boy" by Craig Morgan, which he says is pretty autobiographical for him. Daughtry advised him on song choice and making it his own, but it doesn't look like the stylists were able to do a thing with him. He does the song with an acoustic guitar and plenty of vocal twang, performing like he's playing a concert. Harry considers him a "typical modern-day country performer," but worries that there isn't enough to differentiate him from other artists like him. Which after all is kind of what "typical" means. Keith gives Dexter his country bona fides, and agrees with Harry that he needs to find something to make him different. Jennifer isn't worried about that, saying he'll have time on the show to find it, probably. Ryan comments on how Dexter isn't wearing a hat tonight, for the first time. He probably should have, given that his hairline and his eyebrows are pretty much parallel.
We come back to Ryan and the judges goofing off a bit at their table, and Keith explains that the judges have video monitors built into the table, which is why he looks down so much. Too bad the actual performers aren't ten feet from their faces. Anyway, Keith talks about how they let people bring their guitars to the auditions this year, and while some should have left theirs at home, the next guy can actually play. Most of the guys in the Chamber figure they're talking about Alex Preston, he of the perma-stinkface, and indeed that's the guy. Meeting with Randy, he says that he plays ten or eleven instruments, and that he's going to be doing "Volcano" by Damien Rice. One of the coaches keeps snapping at him to make eye contact during rehearsal, which is not going to help with his innate shyness, and then Daughtry tells him that he himself still gets nervous when he goes on TV, especially the Idol stage, even to this day. Helpful. Alex is, unsurprisingly, playing his guitar as he sings the song, and both his vocals and playing sound pretty great. He would have this in the bag if this were a radio show. Keith calls it the best song choice of the night, and that it sounded like a song Alex could have written himself. Jennifer likes how it was different from other stuff we've been hearing, and Harry respects how music seems to be Alex's religion, and how he "ended on a nine." Ryan isn't about to let that go without an explanation, even though Alex gets it. So Harry has Alex demonstrate it for everyone on the guitar, how the last note he played was nine half-steps up from the root chord. Did we actually just learn some music theory there?