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'American Idol' recap: Better late than never

Sorry, folks, that this is so late. Between the snow earlier this week and an eye doctor's appointment that left me unable to see for a couple of hours. (But, yay, my retinas are OK. /TMI) Anyway, at long last, I am able to post Janell's recap. Here you go!:

Since you didn't get a recap of last night's Milwaukee auditions, I'll tell you what you missed. A lot of 15-year-olds were put through, including one deep-voiced country boy. A woman who graduated from Harvard and is now an intern at the White House got a golden ticket. An emo rocker chick who cried when she saw Steven Tyler got sent through. Jennifer said that a student teacher named Scott was her favorite so far. And in the "emotional story goes here" spot, a young man whose fiancee was partially paralyzed in a car accident was sent through. After he sang, the judges had him bring in his fiancee in the wheelchair. Steven hugged and kissed her and told her that her fiance was such a good singer because he sings to her every day. And he hugged all the parents, too. I had no idea Steven Tyler had this sensitive side to him. It could just be an act, but he acts it well. Oh, also, Milwaukee lays claim to Danny Gokey, a non-winner from Season…7? They're very proud.

Tonight, the auditions are in Nashville. We get Carrie Underwood flashbacks. The opener is Christine McCaffrey, a perky dental assistant who just squeaks and squeals in a high voice. She's laughably bad, since Randy laughs and says, "Really? Really?" Jennifer calls him mean. Christine tells her family that she got a yes from Steven, although he clearly said no, and she responded, "Awesome!"

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Next is a duet couple who used to be a real couple but now they’re an ex-couple and she brought her boyfriend to the audition. Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin (who looks like that guy who played Phoebe’s brother on Friends) harmonize in front of the judges and they sound perfect. Jennifer really wants them to fix their relationship. Steven says, “Rob is so in love with her. Sometimes the deepest passion comes from friction.” They each sing solo, and they each get a golden ticket. Steven tells them to get out of here and fall in love with each other all over again, while Jennifer predicts that they’ll get back together in Hollywood. Outside, Chelsee’s boyfriend gives Rob a congratulatory handshake. I wonder if they’ll cave to the judges’ peer pressure.

In a failure montage, Steven gets to do a crazy, dirty old man squawk. It’s not the most flattering. Then a motorcycle man tattoo artist comes in looking very tough, and he growls out some Lynyrd Skynyrd. Unsurprisingly, he does not surprise the judges with a good voice. While they reject him, he turns philosophical, and Jennifer congratulates the panel on taming the wild animal.

Here comes the controversial Bikini Girl of the season, although she’s not wearing a bikini. Meet Stormi Henley, age 19, and yes that is her real name. She was Miss Tennessee in 2009 (or was it Miss Teen Tennessee? I heard both). She sings okay. Steven tells her that she has a “beautiful, tight, squeaky little voice” and she needs to let it loose. Jennifer says no. The judges have been playing a game this season - one will say no just so that another one gets to be the swing vote and ponder and listen to the pleading before they finally say yes. So, in Stormi’s case, Randy is the swing vote and he lets her through. After she leaves, Jennifer looks at the guys and says, “Seriously, you two? That might be the smallest voice we’ve heard in 5 cities.” I don’t even know if they were serious. I’m sure we’ll get lots of coverage of Stormi in Hollywood week.

After a montage of no, we meet Adrienne Beasley. She’s African-American, and she was adopted by white parents when she was 2 years old. She lives on a farm. When she sings, Steven gets his Happy Yoda face, and he says there’s something special in her voice and she almost made him cry. She gets a ticket. She calls her dad to tell him, and he states that he is, in fact, “tickled.”

On Day 2 in Nashville, we start with Kameela Merricks, who claims to be the “Junior Regional Soloist” from her hometown. I wonder what her duties entail. Is she backup in case the Senior Regional Soloist gets a cold? Does she perform at official regional government functions? Sadly, we’ll never know. She’s a screamer. Steven kindly tells her to go home and practice and get good. Randy interrupts him to say, “Just don’t sing. Just don’t do it, it hurt.” After Kameela leaves, Steven leans over to Randy and whispers, “Don’t tell people they’re not good.” Steven Tyler, ladies and gentlemen, looking out for your feelings.

Wacky failure montage, and Steven actually tells someone that they don’t have a good voice at all. So much for what he just said. Here’s Jackie Wilson. She’s very bouncy and hits a big note, the judges applaud. She goes through.

Here’s Latoya “Younique” Moore, a “recording artist” in a prom dress. She brought a cd of her album for the judges to share. She is a nasal screamer, and Randy says her sound and tone were not good, almost annoying. She forgets to give them her cd.

We get a quick montage of 3 guys who make it: Paul McDonald is cool and sweet with a Rod Stewart-ish voice, and for lack of a better description I simply typed in my notes, “Ooh, yum.” Jimmie Allen is an R&B singer, and Danny Pate gets the judges to sing along to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

As we near the end of the show, things get sentimental. Here’s Matt Dillard, a country boy wearing overalls with a tank top underneath, plus a cowboy hat. His family takes in special needs foster children and he wants to inspire people. He sings a Josh Grobin song, a sound unlike his look. While the judges think about him, he says, “I can pretty up, too, if you want me to. It’s hard to sing in front of Jennifer Lopez.” The judges play their game, Randy giving him a “small yes,” thinking he might get swallowed up. Jennifer says no, Steven says yes, he moves on.

Finally, here’s Lauren Alaina, a 15-year-old girl who has a pink electric guitar in her bedroom. She’s inspired by her cousin Holly. Holly had a brain tumor and Lauren sang at fundraisers for her. The judges let Holly see the audition. Lauren has a soft and strong voice, the judges declare it the best in Nashville. Steven says she’s “beyondo cute.” Lauren asks to bring in her family, since she’s the last of the day. A group joins her on stage, and she sings Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” She even gets Steven to sing a few lines (he is always perfect when he joins in, I love that). Happy ending.

Next stop: Austin, Texas.  And here’s where I point out that I don’t really miss Simon. I am, of course, focusing all of my attention on Steven Tyler, so that could be one reason. But I think all of the judges have reasonable critiques, and even Randy has graduated from “mumble, mumble, for me, for you, dawg” to an honest criticism. He’s no longer just filler, is what I’m saying. He tries to get attention, too, because most contestants gush over Steven or Jennifer, so he riffs a lot on “yep, me too, handsome and thin as ever.” The panel does seem nicer, but maybe they just have more people to be nice to. I don’t know. What I do know is that no rejected contestant screams “It’s called American Idol, why don’t you go back to England, you blah blah blah.” And I don’t miss that at all.

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