Demi introduces Ellona, saying she "can't reiterate" that Ellona is a star who deserves our votes. She's doing a Beyoncé song that could fit in both rounds, but she tells us that she's worried about pulling this off without her usual choreographer and backup dancers. The song is "If I Were a Boy," and for once she's actually holding still for most of the song, sitting on the top of some miniature bleachers and not getting thrown by the audience clapping off-tempo. And it seems like her concerns about relying on her voice were not entirely unjustified, because while she does have a powerful voice, her pitch wavers on some of the bigger, higher notes. The audience loves it, though, and at least some of the judges are on their feet. Kelly appreciates her "big, beautiful voice," but liked the softer parts better. Me too. Paulina thinks she's watching a superstar and all that. Simon thought the first song had too much going on, but he's been waiting for her to do something like this for a while now, and calls it one of his favorites so far. Demi appreciates Simon's advice and says that Ellona could win, provided America pulls through. Can't argue with that logic.
Simon introduces Alex & Sierra again. In their intro reel, Sierra says that they strip down their songs every week (yes, we've noticed), so tonight they're going to change it up and she's playing the piano. For the first time in front of audience ever, in her life. "I'd be pooping my pants," Alex says supportively. They're going with "Say Something" by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera, and it is indeed different, because this comes off sincere and earnest and faithful to the original for once, rather than putting their usual twist on something familiar. They also win a four-way standing ovation, though Simon has to encourage Kelly a little bit. She says it was like a performance on an awards show, which she means as a compliment. Demi loves how they were both playing instruments, and how they never took their eyes off each other. Probably to keep from screwing up the timing that Simon was worried about. Paulina was excited and impressed and says something about love and babies and just get to the end please, Paulina. Simon calls it not just the best performance of the night, but of the entire season. Everyone acts like that's as exciting as if it came from a judge who isn't consistently and blatantly biased.
Still, should be fun for Carlito Olivero to follow that. Paulina introduces her remaining Boy, hollering like a wounded animal. In rehearsal, Paulina advised him to go to the gym and practice his boxing so he can manage his energy during the song. Carlito agreed, probably wondering when he gets to ask for a new mentor. He's wrapping up the show with a Spanglish version of "Stand By Me" that proves that the unplugged round isn't necessarily a win for everyone. He keeps switching languages in mid-sentence and even mid-line, which is pretty damn distracting. I know Paulina is trying to show how he's part of two cultures, but it comes off more like he's having a stroke. Kelly says it was his best vocal yet, Demi says there was too much backing music and the singing to the girls like she said was what he was supposed to do. Simon says he had a tough gig following Alex & Sierra, but would hate to lose him. Paulina gets distracted from her own comments by Simon's flared nostrils, which she tries to close for him even as she comments that he does it every time she talks. But she manages to pull it together (by her standards) enough to tell him she loves him and this was his best performance ever. Carlito gives an impassioned underdog speech asking for votes, and it's finally time for Mario to open the voting and quickly asks for Simon's final thoughts. Simon claims to be reading from Paulina's notes, "My puppies love balloons," which I don't doubt, before announcing that it was Alex & Sierra's and Restless Road's night. In the final few seconds of the show, Mario asks the other judges if they agree, putting them in the position of having to talk over each other so that Mario can dismiss them all as so many chattering idiots. Instead of just the one.