After he's done, Nicole says she liked it but it wasn't her favorite performance by him. Paula also calls L.A. out on it not being a rock song technically, as does Simon. "What's the point of having a theme if you're just going to totally disregard it?" L.A. challenges him, "Let's do hip-hop week and see what Drew does." Uh, slow, creepy, minor-key rapping, I'm guessing. L.A. says he was glad Chris stayed on key, which is glowing praise indeed, and he also defends his categorization of Bob Marley as a rock star, because he's in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yeah, so's Neil Diamond.
The tweet count is 5.1 million, in case you care, which you don't, and Steve throws it to Nicole to introduce Stacy Francis. The intro reel is all about Stacy and Nicole relating to each other, and L.A. hoping Stacy doesn't "pander" with another song he wrote. Well, no, it's a Meat Loaf song. Or I should say a "Meat Loaf" song, because I think that written by Jim Steinman or not, we all remember "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" more as a Celine Dion tune. But why complain about lack of respect to the theme when Stacy is singing it as flat as Kansas? I'm seriously cringing here.
L.A. says he knows she's expecting him to be mean, but he gives her a week off and lies that she sang it well. Paula says, "This was my least favorite song that you've ever performed." She asks Nicole if she picked it, and Nicole kind of throws Stacy under that particular bus, going on about how it was a song close to Stacy's heart blah bleh bloo. Simon starts with the good news: "Your hair looks better this week." Uh-oh. The fact that that's the good news is really, really bad news. He pretty much takes her apart, saying she's going backwards. He says it a little too much, though, even forcing Steve to make him yield the floor to Nicole, who calls Stacy a glam rock diva. Steve asks Stacy if she's okay. Indeed, Stacy's dead-eyed stone-face is a lot more worrying than the old waterworks. Stacy says this was for her "Fran-atics." Okay, fired. Fired now.
Simon runs the rock theme into the ground in the course of introducing Melanie Amaro to sing a rock song by rock band REM who played rock. Since the running theme of the intro reels this week seems to be the acts' connections with their mentors, Simon says he's got an especially deep one with Melanie, "Because I've been inside her home." I don't think he means that as creepy as it sounds. We learn that Melanie had a childhood with her grandparents in the Virgin Islands before returning to Florida for high school. Nicole says she hasn't seen Melanie really let go, and L.A. correctly says that Melanie is the opposite of edgy. "This song could do it for her," Simon promises. That song? "Everybody Hurts." After listening to Simon talk about how "stripped down" it's going to be with just Melanie and a piano onstage, we now see her sitting up there under dimmed lights, ankle-deep in fog that's lit from below. I do like how she's singing it in a lower key than Michael Stipe's keening falsetto on the original. She only gets to sing the second half of the bridge, and loosens up a bit as she gets up off the stack of hexagons she was using as a stool for the last chorus.