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Paul F. Tompkins Recaps American Idol’s Milwaukee Auditions

(Editor's note: Last week we said that Paul would only be recapping once a week. Turns out this week he could not help himself, so there will be one tonight and one tomorrow. You know the song "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"? Please sing it twice.)

Hello, Internauts. I’m back. I watched more of that TV show I said I was going to watch. More on that in a second. But first, in my inaugural recap last week, I told you I was being paid five dollars a word for these posts. Some people thought this was outrageous. Well, of course it’s outrageous. That’s why I told Vulture I needed an immediate raise to TEN dollars a word. Thank you for your outrage on my behalf.

And! Though I was under no onus to do so, I went ahead and watched last week’s second night of auditions, and have provided a bonus mini-cap of that episode! I BLEED TIME!

So, last Thursday in New Orleans! The notables who made it through: Sarah Sellers (big-lipped hipster librarian), Jovany Barreto (celebrates life-changing moments by taking his shirt off), Jacee Badeaux (Spanky reboot for the new millennium), Paris Tassin (mother of cute special-needs child for pathos boost, activated dormant empathy program in J.Lo), others.

People who didn’t make it through: demented people.

And now, onto this week. Wednesday finds us in Milwaukee. Wait, really? Yes. I rewound it. It was on purpose. Milwaukee is the home of season eight Idol Danny Gokey, whose name brings to mind an unpleasant association with anime. I’ll admit, that’s more my problem than his.

Let’s get started! Baby-faced/man-voiced Scott McCreery makes it though with a bit of country croonery, which means he will not win. After Scott finishes, Steven Tyler says another supposedly hilarious thing that I guess he’s going to insist upon doing, using language unbecoming one of the stars of The Dark Crystal.

Fifteen-year-old Emma Henry almost doesn’t make it! She cries when J.Lo tells her that her voice needs more work. Randy wants to say no, because this competition will eat Emma alive. I guess when the producers lowered the age restrictions this season, they were hoping for some of those hard-edged, mercenary 15-year-olds. Folks, these are the kinds of children we need to be molding into top 40 singers. Ultimately, her crying and pleading work, and Randy says yes, contradicting his whole point. Good for her?

Naima Adedapo gets in by singing pleasantly and being slightly sad in life. I honestly can’t remember what her deal was, but she cried in her interview and WHO CARES BECAUSE THE BEST POSSIBLE THING HAPPENS RIGHT AFTER HER AUDITION. One of those irritating creeps who is able to do backflips does some irritating backflips and backflips onto a cameraman who’s lying on the floor to capture the backflips. The backflippist breaks the guy’s camera while/by smashing it into the guy’s face. Backflips have never before paid off in a non-gymnastics setting and most likely never will again. So we can all tell our grandchildren that we were there. One quibble? We did not get to see the sweet shot of that idiot’s feet slamming into the lens. I mean, do I have to produce this show as well as write about it?

Sidebar: Throughout the episode, Steven Tyler occasionally puts on these Rite Aid–spinning-rack-looking reading glasses and it drives me nuts. I hate nothing more than when millionaires have cheap accessories. Last year I kept seeing Paul McCartney wearing those suspenders with the clips. SIR Paul McCartney. CLIPS. Let me tell you something: If I had that kind of money, I would wear white tie and tails to the DMV. The sweat would pour in rivulets from underneath my opera hat, but I’d wipe it away with a gold brick.

Jerome Bell gets through with the loudest version of “Let’s Get It On” you’ve ever imagined. That song is about sex, does he know that? If someone yelled at you to have sex, how likely are you to take him up on it? Very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely? Please stick to one of these choices, or my supervisor will deem my survey incomplete.

As usual, all of the terrible people are terrible in the same way. They thought they were great, but they were mistaken. New Orleans’s equivalent to last week’s “burper” is a Civil War reenactor who sings “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in full battlefield regalia. Canteen included. Saving grace: It’s not a Confederate uniform. He doesn’t advance to Hollywood, but perhaps getting this out of his system means he will not be the next Unabomber. He was really kinda scary. People who sing with their hands very stiff at their sides with their fingers slightly flared make me nervous. It's like they’re consciously ordering their hands to stay off of all the necks in the room.

Fifteen year-old Thia Megia sings “Chasing Pavements” and makes it through. Then so do a bunch of other 15-year-olds! There’s a montage of about half a dozen going to the next round! SURELY ONE OF THEM IS A POTENTIAL BIEBER!

Molly DeWolf Swenson has too many names and calls Randy out for accidentally hitting her in the face during the traditional (?) high-five session that begins every (?) day of auditions. Molly is a White House intern but is happy to leave that shit behind for a shot at making it to the top 50 (if that) on a TV singing contest. Obama really is having trouble holding onto his base.

Then, for a long while, like 30 minutes, nothing interesting happens. Nothing. There’s the obligatory montage of people whose discovery of their tone-deafness manifests as anger, and then a bunch of other people sing pleasantly and go on to the next round in rather rapid succession. I had my fingers in home row position for what felt like ages.

And then, at last, it’s time for a moment they’ve been teasing all night. Chris Medina is engaged to a young lady who was in a horrific car accident and was not expected to recover. She has beaten the odds and is now in a wheelchair with very limited mobility and speech. Chris sings beautifully and passes the audition, no sweat. But then the judges ask to meet his fiancée. Chris wheels her in and Randy, J.Lo, and Steven Tyler crowd around her and start hugging and kissing her. She is powerless to stop this. I am not really trying to be funny or “outrageous” when I say: Just because someone’s in a wheelchair and has limited mobility and speech, doesn’t mean you can touch her and kiss her and that she’s necessarily excited to meet you. Think about what you’re doing. She’s not a baby. She’s an adult. So … yeah. Maybe remember that even people who are sitting down have boundaries.

Tomorrow night we’re on to Nashville, which has produced some of the greatest artists in the history of American music. No pressure!

Photo: FOX