Okay, so it looks like we've got a host situation in place for the live shows. As we heard a few weeks ago, it's Khloe Kardashian-Odom and Mario Lopez, who together may add up to almost one Steve Jones. The less said about the debut of these two the better, and not just because my DVR cut off the beginning of the episode and I didn't actually see it. Get your shit online already, Fox.
Demi, looking like her old Camp Rock self with newly dark hair and bangs, introduces Paige Thomas, who we see at home in Phoenix, snuggling with her daughter, packing and leaving at the airport. Demi has apparently decided that the sides of Paige's head look so good shaved that she wants to do the same to the rest of her skull. Well, at least she looks less like Rihanna now. Demi also admits to us that Paige isn't the best vocalist, and flatly tells her during rehearsal, "If that happens during the live show, you're going home."
Paige comes out onstage looking like an escapee from the set of Hellraiser and sings "What Is Love," which makes me suspect Demi of maneuvering to meet Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan during a future episode. And really, this performance is all about the future, with the disco beats and the space-dancers laser lights and what not. And Demi's right: Paige isn't the best vocalist. L.A. appreciates the dramatic opening, "but I'm not so sure about that song choice." Britney, wearing a Christmas tree skirt as a dress, says she's outrageous and a true star. Simon, rocking a crew neck for once, tells her that this is all about finding someone who can work in the real world and she nailed it. Which is a remarkable thing to say to someone dressed like Paige Thomas is dressed right now.
"He is one of my favorites, this is Arin Ray," Britney doesn't exactly gush by way of introduction. After we see him leave home in Cincinnati, Britney babbles to him about the vital aspects of his upcoming performance, namely dancers and style. Basically her strategy seems to be to get the girls to like him. Which is sad, but she's not wrong.
The dancers are there all right for the performance, which is a dubstep version of "Keep Me Hanging On" that's frequently drowned out by the eruption of noisy steam-geysers at the edge of the stage. But it's all sexy and poor-man's-Usher, which is exactly what they're going for. L.A. tells him he nailed it, although his vocal wasn't quite up to the genius of the song. Demi says she couldn't hear him over the girls' screaming, but wants to see him dance better. Simon argues that the vocal weakness might have been caused by distraction due to all the dancers around him and that maybe Britney put too much around him, but he was impressed. I can't believe Simon complains about distractions with a straight face given what he's going to be putting Lyric 145 through later.