But not right after the break, because first there's a montage of all the contestants talking about how much they don't want to go home yet, because this is all they want to do, going home would be devastating, blah di bloo. Because whoever ends up leaving tonight, we'd hate to think they'd do something as gauche as to survive it. Back onstage, Steve brings out the finalists, accompanied by their mentors. Thus L.A. comes out flanked by Marcus Canty, Astro and Chris Rene, looking a little embarrassed by all the pomp. Simon comes out with Drew, Melanie Amar, and Rachel Crow. Paula comes out at the head of the small army that is Stereo Hogzz, InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne, and finally Nicole leads out LeRoy Bell, Josh Krajcik and Stacy Francis. Steve preps to reveal the names "in no particular order," and seems a bit nervous himself as he again explains that the bottom two will sing for the judges, who will decide whom to boot. Steve waits for silence so he can repeat the "no particular order" thing and start announcing names. Well, pausing and announcing names. Actually, mostly pausing. A full fifteen seconds elapses before he names Marcus Canty, and I finally understand how they're going to fill the next half hour. "See you next week," Steve says, like Marcus is off to his hotel room until next Wednesday. Drew only has to wait twelve seconds to hear her name. Whoa, pace yourself, Steve-O, you don't want to blow your wad too early. And then, after another twenty seconds, he just says he'll announce the next act after the break. Oh, he's gooood.
Coming back, the third person voted through is LeRoy Bell. There's lots of hugging and a nervous look from Simon and some brief muting, which means someone on that stage has a bit of a mouth on them. Also surviving the first vote is Astro. Steve reminds us there's no particular order, then inflicts a few more Pinteresque pauses in the course of saying that Lakoda Rayne, Rachel Crow and Chris Rene are still in it as well. That's a sweep for L.A.'s group. Josh is also going on, as is Melanie, putting Simon in the same position as L.A. That leaves Stacy Francis, InTENsity and Stereo Hogzz. Steve reminds us that one will go on, the other two will perform again tonight for their survival, and one of those two will go home. Still in no particular order, Steve prepares to announce the tenth act. And it's Stacy Francis, which proves that the "no particular order" thing is bullshit and they went in order of who's most likely to cry on live TV. So Nicole's got a clean sweep as well. Sucks to be Paula right now, as she's going to lose one of her groups tonight no matter what. Steve goes even further, calling it her "nightmare scenario" and asking how she's feeling. Paula says it's tough for America to connect with groups (you know, like The Beatles), but she's confident they're about to wow everyone. For all the good it's going to do one of them. Well, at least I don't have to worry about judges deadlocking over keeping each other's acts. Now I'm wondering what happens if Paula runs out of groups before the other judges have lost any. Does she just sit around the rest of the time looking sad like the first bankrupt Monopoly player?