Tonight's pre-credits sequence is all Jimmy Iovine talking about how great the songs of the Beatles are, complete with interstitial onscreen titles in Beatles font. The last of which says something about the top nine taking on the Fab Four. And after I had already typed that as my tagline, too. My irritation is matched only by my shame.
After the judges and Ryan take their places amid the usual excited chaos, Ryan refers to Keith, Nicki, Randy, and Mariah as their own fab four (sure, with two Ringos, a George, and no Paul), then brings out the top nine. I wish he'd stop referring to them as "faces." That always makes me picture Hannibal Lecter, furiously dialing the number of the finalist he most wants to look like. Ryan reminds us of the finale coming up in less than two months, and cues up a clip of Carly Rae Jepsen plugging her own performance at the same time. And in the tradition of The X Factor's Pepsi Challenge, she and Coke are letting the general public vote on the lyrics and various aspects of her performance at the finale, an idea that's communicated by having her sit in the audience and watch different versions of herself try stuff out on the stage. She was cooler on Jimmy Fallon.
Coming back from that, Ryan says we're starting with some results. Specifically, those of Aubrey Cleland and Charlie Askew's sing-off last week. They come out, and there's the usual pomp of dimming the lights and long pauses from Ryan until we learn that the vote was won by...Aubrey Cleland. Charlie's got a decent public face on for this announcement, and there are hugs all around, and all things considered he doesn't look too broken up about having to tour the country as a consolation prize to himself.
At last, we're starting the competition, tonight with Kree, In her intro reel she talks about how family means everything to her. So it must have really stung to lose her dad at 12 and her mom at 19. Her sister Laci was the one to push Kree to audition in the first place. On to the part of the intro reel where she's being mentored by Jimmy, locked in a sound booth learning the Joe Cocker version of "With a Little Help From My Friends," and with a cold, no less. But Jimmy isn't worried. Indeed, Kree pulls off the double-cover nicely, even managing to somehow make her country inflections not seem out of place.
Keith tells her how she's Kree no matter what she sings, and isn't worried about her getting by at all. Nicki also appreciates what she's now calling "Kreedom" and the confidence Kree has gained over time. Randy pretends like he's going to say he didn't like it, but Kree's the only one who buys it, and even she might have been pretending. Mariah adds that it wasn't good, it was "fan-freaking-tastic." Ryan comes out and pretends that everyone was freaking out, and comments on Mariah's acting skills and how she should get into a movie. Yikes, we skated dangerously close to a Glitter reference there.