L.A. tells them they're an amazing group, but they sounded "like someone put you in a washer, dumped in bleach, and took all the soul out of you." He insists that would never be their single, and dares Lyric to say she really likes the song. "I made you like it," Lyric tells the audience, which wasn't the question. L.A. insists it wasn't hip-hop and they know it. But Britney says she was genuinely entertained, while Demi disagrees with L.A. and tells Simon she's a little worried about the group because they're so good. Simon argues that rappers have to be commercial in a competition like this, and that they were "absolutely sensational." As if he'd say otherwise.
After the ads, Demi introduces CeCe Frey, who has permanently traded the leopard spots for a mass of lemon-yellow curls. This is Demi's plan for making her more likable? But CeCe seems determined to make us relate to her if it's the last fucking thing we do, goddammit.
She comes out and sings a disco version of Patti Smith's "Because the Night." Oh, and now the leopard spots are no longer on her face, but on whatever she's wearing over her boobs. This "performance" seems all about the choreography and the backup dancers, because her actual voice sounds a lot weaker and breathier than usual.
L.A. congratulates her, saying that it was overall good except vocally. Britney agrees with that, but Simon likes how "fearless" and "interesting" she was, which means her lackluster vocals didn't really matter. See? And Demi says she knows CeCe can do better. CeCe assures Mario that she's taking this "harsh" criticism constructively. Good. Next time go harsher.
On to Tate Stevens, who we see saying goodbye to his family at home in Belton, Missouri. His wife says she'll miss him, but his daughter says not to come home without the five-million-dollar contract. He's not going to be able to please both of them. In his mentoring session, L.A. tells Tate he's an "American classic" but needs to do more entertaining.
Tate's song tonight is the country paean to middle-class moms "I Thought I Was Tough," and he seems to be following L.A.'s pre-show advice of singing it to the one he loves, and he sounds nice as always. Britney says Tate gets women, and Demi says that although she was bored at first, he doesn't need the dancers and all the other crap that's been going on all night. Simon likes Tate for knowing exactly what kind of artist he is, but didn't love the song choice. L.A. supportively tells Tate that Simon isn't an expert in country (or hip-hop, he adds, as a little extra dig), but Tate's a keeper. Mario and Khloe come out and she asks Tate a scripted question about missing his family, and probably gets a bonus for making him tear up a bit.