Ryan walks through a double rank of the female half of the top 24, asking if "one of these faces" could be the first female American Idol in five seasons. "There's only one way to find out." But that won't be for another three months, so you guys can come back then. I got this. Sigh.
The announcer hails the entrance of the judges and Ryan to the stage, and the all get a warm reception from the audience, even though Jennifer appears to have her shorts on backwards. But at least Ryan has a tie on. Ryan reminds us that the guys sang last night, the girls will sing tonight, and five of them will end up getting voted into the top 13, along with the five guys with the most votes and one wild card chosen by each judge. Ryan brings out the girls: Chelsea Sorrell, Erika Van Pelt, Jen Hirsh, Brielle Van Hugel, Hallie Day, Skylar Laine, Baylie Brown, Hollie Cavanaugh, Halie Johnsen, Shannon Magrane, Jessica Sanchez, and Elise Testone, all of whom are quite dressed up for the occasion.
We're getting started tonight with someone nobody remembers, I guess for the benefit of those who are a little late tuning in. Chelsea Sorrell is from Stokesdale, NC a town with one road and a grocery store called "Bi-Rite." She drives the length of the town and shows us some outdoorsy activities -- as well as her mom, who looks younger than Elise Testone does. The band steps on Ryan's intro of Chelsea's song, "Cowboy Casanova" by Carrie Underwood. Chelsea sings it on a stage projected to look like the inside of a burning barn. She does fine, but it's not exactly going to blow anyone away coming out of the gate. Randy questions her wisdom in singing a Carrie Underwood song, like Carrie Underwood is so untouchable. I guess in this world she is. Jennifer gives Chelsea an excuse by saying it sucks to go first, which she figures is why Chelsea sounded a little nasal. And Steven warns, "When it's time to belt it out, belt it out good," which, it's not hard to find the criticism in that. She takes it all pretty well, like she's just happy to have gotten this far and anything beyond this is gravy.
After quick post-performance, post-ad interview with Chelsea in the wings. Ryan's down among the guys off the stage, borrowing Heejun's glasses and trying to crack him up. You're out of your league, Seacrest. Next thing you know we're in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, which hometown girl Erika Van Pelt calls "green hell." We also meet her mother "Mama V.P.," her sister Sarah, and a house full of Van Pelts (seriously, one feels pelted by Van Pelts) before she says this is a nice break from carrying the same DJ speakers for ten years. Tonight she's asking Heart's musical question "What About Love?" while working her throaty voice and a sleek new haircut. Jennifer says she could have pushed it further, but thinks she's amazing. Randy compares her to Adele (get used to that) and acts like a singing DJ is such a big deal. Has anyone reading this been to a wedding in the last ten years where the DJ didn't sing at some point? As far as holding back, Erika basically tells Ryan she meant to do that, and we come back from the ads in time to hear her admit she's a little worried but plans to do more. Were these moments here with the guys last night and I missed them somehow?