‘American Idol’: The Judges Never Met A Contestant They Didn’t Like

Robbie Daw | January 27, 2011 6:26 am

Man, has this past week been a great one for Wisconson or what? First the Packers lined up their February 6 face-off with the Pittsburgh Steelers at a small-time dog-and-pony act known as the Super Bowl. Then along came last night’s episode of American Idol where the judges jetted off for the first time in the show’s history to Brew City—i.e. Milwaukee. And like last week, the focus was on the excellent—well, make that decent enough—contestants, rather than the bad ones. Meanwhile, we’re pretty sure the main sob story we got from the evening is up there with the series’ all-time top tearjerkers. Don’t get us wrong—there were some terrible singers paraded in front of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler during their two-day stint in Season 8 contestant Danny Gokey’s hometown of Milwaukee. (Twenty-two-year-old Nathaniel Jones—the Civil War dude who re-enacts battles as “a hobby”—painfully comes to mind, as does aspiring University Of Toledo disc jockey Joe Repka, who was thankfully told not to quit his day job).

But with Season 10, the focus clearly seems to be on the nice rather than the nasty. Who else could ever compete with Simon Cowell’s witty/devastating barbs, anyway?

Randy, J.Lo and Steven saw the hopefuls come and go at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and altogether 53 made it through, (including every 15-year-old who auditioned on day one).

But let’s just focus on the two memorable standouts: Molly DeWolf Swensen and Chris Medina. Harvard grad Swensen was interning at the White House for the Obama administration when she decided to try her luck on Idol in Milwaukee. Things didn’t start off so great, though—while she was waiting out with the rest of the wannabe contestants in the holding area, Randy walked out to give them a little motivation and a round of high-fives.

Unfortunately, while doing so, he accidentally smacked 22-year-old Swensen in the face. Luckily her nerves remained intact, and the tall blonde produced a knockout performance of Otis Redding’s “(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay” that rightly wowed the three judges.

The night’s second noteworthy singer was 26-year-old Chris Medina, whose girlfriend of eight years, Julianne, had been injured in an accident that caused her traumatic brain injury. The pair had been engaged, but after her tragedy, now-wheelchair-bound Julianne was left unconscious for a month-and-a-half. When she finally woke up, Chris and Julianne’s mother became her primary caretakers. “What kind of guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me the most?” Chris said in his introductory clip, while getting choked up (and tugging on our own heartstrings).

Medina belted out a soulful, soaring rendition of the Script’s hit “Breakeven,” and the judges were so moved by both the performance and Chris’ sad story that they had him wheel Julianne in to meet them—and that’s when they let the couple know that Chris made it through to Hollywood.

Tonight: our easy-going trio of talent scouts are off to Nashville. And surely there’s got to be at least a few bad singers, right? (It’s the little things that make us happy these days.)