Her performance starts off really well, with good tone and attitude, and I wonder if she's going to get compliments or if the judges are going to complain that the performance "isn't her." Considering her rock roots, or whatever the heck her roots are (since she didn't know "Heartbreaker"), this a good song choice for her. It's vampy and has some "twang" to it. But just as I start thinking she's going to pull this all off and fluster the judges, things begin to go wrong. She goes flat on some notes and starts losing her energy. There's an old-fashioned microphone to go with the theme this evening, and it can't be moved around during the performance, so the kids have to pull off stage presence while sticking in one place, and Nikki isn't so good at that; she really doesn't know where to look at times or where to direct the performance. She has a problem with a contact lens or something, and develops a pronounced eye tic that probably doesn't help any. And just as with last week, there are some truly awful, flat sustained notes. I think it's because her rock-style note delivery doesn't allow for corrections. Kelly and Tamyra have had their flat moments, too, but the way they sing allows them to correct quickly. Nikki just hits the notes head-on, so if she misses it, we're all stuck with whatever comes out until the note ends. It's a much better performance than I expected out of Nikki for this theme, but there were some very clear flaws.
Judges. Randy "Nikki, Nikki, Nikki"s his approval of her shoes and asks her if this was a tough theme for her. Duh. She says it was. Randy thinks Nikki did a good job, but he wasn't "blown away." Paula blathers on a bit about how everybody is excellent in every way or whatever. She's just happy that, now that Anna Nicole Smith's got her own show, Paula's not the dumbest ditz on reality television. She says that song selection is "key important [eye-roll -- I mean, 'sic']" now, and though she thought Nikki did okay, she didn't like the song selection. That's probably because the song is about a woman who is really mean, and Paula doesn't like mean people. And really, what a witless comment. It was a big-band song that fit both Nikki's range and "attitude," so whatever. Shut up, Paula. How annoying that nobody addresses the actual flaws in Nikki's performance. Simon says, "Let's be real. You had to pull out the performance of a lifetime to last another week. You didn't." The audience starts booing. Foreshadowing chuckles in the control room. Paula repeats that it was all about song selection. It's such an insult to our intelligence, like it's not obvious to us that the show's theme choice hamstrung Nikki. Either she embraces the theme and is accused of "not being herself," or she finds a song that she can sort of make her own and is accused of "bad song selection." I really wasn't surprised at all at the way the voting turned out.