Rachel Crow, the sassy 14-year-old, is going first, and she's a bit too nervous to be sassy again, at least until she gets back out on the stage. She tells Simon her song tonight is "a surprise." But it's actually "If I Were a Boy," accompanied by one live pianist. She blows the whole place away, and moves Nicole to tears, singing like a woman thrice her age. Steve tells us the judges will be keeping their comments to themselves in this round, but we hear Simon say to L.A., "She's getting better." And she was good to begin with. She hugs her mom backstage. Family gets to come to this? That's a nice bonus for the people lucky enough to have family handy.
Audrey Turner sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which seems a little on the nose for her, but she ends up pouring her heart out on her knees. Paige Ogle sings "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane. Tiger Budbill adds a guitar to his backing ensemble for a slow, soulful version of "Billie Jean." Yes, really. He also interviews that his house is getting auctioned off in five weeks. He knows he won't have the check by then, right? Burrito Guy Josh, who finally admits he's also been a musician his whole life and didn't grow up dreaming of the burrito life, is next. "The only way to win is to not lose today," he says backstage. And all the other days, don't forget. Up on stage, he gives a whole speech about how he doesn't want to go back to burritos and empty nightclubs, and he wants the audience to remember this performance forever. Simon titters at the sheer cheek of him, then says, "I like that." He's doing a song by Kelly Clarkson, of all people, namely "Up to the Mountain." Unsurprisingly, he sounds fantastic, and may even have lost a little weight. I'm starting to suspect that he's only in this competition for the makeover, though. That's where his situation seems most desperate, if you ask me. He exits up the aisle, gladhanding audience members and leaving a trail of grime the whole way.
Time for 22-year-old Simone Battle, who I barely remember. She sang "When I Grow Up" by Pussycat Dolls at auditions and impressed Simon with her hot pants. Then in her interview she uses the term "fierce" twice, and I'm reminded all over again. Out on stage, she gives a speech while a cameraman does a slow, close zoom up her bare legs, and she's singing "Your Song" by Elton John. Except it's an angry version, and it's the version about completely forgetting the words, which she is writing on the fly. Yikes. She acts like she meant to do that, while judges and members of the audience look on in undisguised horror. By the time the pianist takes pity on everyone in the room and stops playing, Simon's unable to keep quiet, and tells her she didn't remember a single word. She says she was trying to do something different and promises she can "bring it." At least she holds it together emotionally until she gets backstage. And the worst part? Nicole says that's the best she ever heard Simone sing.