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Posted at 12:30 AM ET, 01/27/2011

'American Idol': Season 10, episode 3

By Lisa de Moraes

The judges look at the talent in Milwaukee. (Fox)

"American Idol's" very first audition trip to Milwaukee sees a lot of other "firsts" for the long-running singing competition.

Joe Repka, for instance, is the first wannabe Idolette to channel Jackie Gleason for the camera, giving us his best "straight to the moon!" bit.

Joe wants to be a radio DJ. He and show host Ryan Seacrest talk radio for a while. Then, when he goes inside the audition room to wow the judges, his mom tells Seabiscuit that Joe sings all the time.

"Do you sing?" Seabiscuit asks.

"No -- I'm tone deaf," she responds.

And you know where this is going. Guess who else is tone deaf?

"Idol" judge Steven Tyler bays like a hound dog at a full moon.

"Do not quit your day job," he advises. The others agree.

I did alright," Joe tells Seabiscuit outside. "Of course they were brutally honest."

Kody Zalewski, who thinks he's the next Frank Sinatra -- if Frank Sinatra had been a kick-boxer -- is the first ever auditioner, that we know of anyway, to get turned down by the judges and then ask them for a hug, and then ask Randy, "Can I have a sip of your Coke?"

And while Randy acts creeped out, Tyler and new judge Jennifer Lopez have "this is the kind of person we're used to paying large bodyguards small fortunes to keep miles away from us" looks frozen on their faces.

Naima Adedapo may or may not be "Idol's first janitor. She cleans the toilets at SummerFest while dreaming of performing up on stage. She's very cute and interesting looking, causing JLo to erupt into "you've got the whole package" mode.

"I think you're all that," Tyler agrees.

"Thank you -- you're all that too" Naima shoots back.

Love her.

It's time to take a vote. JLo takes the lead:

"Steve?" JLo asks Tyler to get him to cast his vote.

"Steven," Tyler corrects her.

Ooh, snap!

After Naima is sent on her way to Hollywood, JLo turns to Tyler:

"It's 'Steven', right?"

"You can call me late for dinner but I'd still love you," he responds.

"... but not lunch," he adds.

He's cute, but he doesn't make sense.

Randy, meanwhile, wants to be called by all three of his names.

"Don't call me at all -- both of you," JLo disses.

It's got to be the first time "Idol" auditioners have passed the time doing the limbo using a giant toothbrush as a limbo pole. The toothbrush is a prop used by one auditioner who, we're sorry to report, was only dismissively bad -- not interestingly bad.

We don't think Jerome Bell is the show's first bar mitzvah/wedding singer, but he may be the first to admit to it.

And, Seabiscuit reminds us, it's the first time the show has allowed 15-year-olds to audition, in honor of Justin Bieber Fever. Hence, Thai Megia's eligibility to try out for the show this year. She says she's from California but, when she heard about the age change, she immediately booked a flight to Milwaukee and a hotel room, even though she knew the show was going to hold auditions in California -- because, she says, she could not summon the patience to wait.

Or, maybe, she thought the competition in Wisconsin would not be so stiff as in California? Just sayin'.

Anyway. She's been watching the show since it started, which would have been when she was about 5.

"Randy I saw before I could start reading," she says sweetly in the audition room.

Ooh, snap again!

"But I'm still mad young," Randy cues her.

"You look even younger," Thai says without missing a beat. Yup, she's that good.

JLo "total packages" her. Thai's through to Hollywood.

Seabiscuit notes that the decision to lower the eligibility age to 15 years has paid off in Milwaukee because "every 15-year-old who walked in walked out with gold," a ticket to Hollywood.

Of course, you might say that just means the pre-screeners were told to only put through for the judges to look at those 15-year-olds they thought could really sing well, because a decision had been made that 15-year-old bad singers would not be mocked on the show.


One medley of terrible singers later, we get "Idol's" very first Civil war re-enactor/auditioner -- Nathaniel Jones. Nathaniel wants to make it perfectly clear his father, who has accompanied him to the audition, is not a hippie even though people always tell him his dad looks like a hippie -- because hippies believe in sex, and his dad hasn't gone anywhere with anybody "since my mom."

Nathaniel, in his Civil War soldier outfit, walks in straight lines, turns crisp 90 degree corners and salutes the judges before singing his tune in a very high voice while Randy laughs into his Coke cup. He's sent away.

"American Idol" also sees its very first Harvard grad-turned-White House Intern. Her name is Molly DeWolf Swensen.

Molly DeWolf Swensen is all blonde hair and long legs -- a real "looker," as they used to say. Molly DeWolf Swensen wants America to know "I'm now working in the White House for the Obama Administration and I'm in love with this president."

"Not in the Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton sort of way," she adds. "Just platonic way."

Before Molly DeWolf Swensen performs, she informs Randy that he "kinda punched me in the mouth" when he was greeting the wannabes in the holding room by running down the aisle and high-fiving everyone.

"I hope you don't add insult to real injury," she says, ominously.

Randy starts to make excuses: Maybe his hand pushed someone else's hand into her face.

"Nope, it was your big ol' hand," Molly DeWolf Swensen says calmly.

Molly is putting a real damper on things. Then, somehow, the talk turns to the fact that she graduated Harvard. The judges naturally are curious what she wants to do with herself.

Molly DeWolf Swensen says she isn't exactly sure, adding, "I'm an intern at the White House now." That really shut them up.

She sings "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." She's very good.

"Wow, who knew that was going on in the White House," Randy marvels.

But, he adds, he's "a little puzzled."

"Where have you been? What's been going on?" he wonders -- maybe the most unintentionally funny question ever asked on "American Idol."

Anyway they give her a gold pass to Hollywood. Where, she says, she's going "to represent the administration."

Another "American Idol" first: An auditioner gets his ticket to Hollywood, goes outside the audition room to be caught on camera giving the traditional victory scream with his entourage while Seabiscuit looks on happily, only to be upstaged when one of his entourage doubles over and begins to scream, "Oh my God! I've got a charley horse!" while squeezing all the blood out of Seabiscuit's hand. That was Tiwan Strong's fate, after his strong performance drew raves from the judges.

"I'm okay!" his entourage member finally assures America; she hobbles off. Surely we'll see her again on finale night.

Idol gets its first CPA Idolette -- or so Seabiscuit says, when Steven Beghun sings for the judges.

"I'm an auditor so I really don't have that many friends. It comes with the territory ... people can't wait for me to go away," the extremely tall Beghun tells the camera.

The judges have zero expectations for this guy because he hasn't got, as JLo would put it, "the whole package." But he's quite good. "It's so surprising, cause you're so big and your voice is so high," JLo says.

"I found you to be disturbingly great," adds Tyler.

(And speaking of Obama, wannabe Idolette Albert Rogers III does a better Obama than anyone has yet managed on "Saturday Night Live." Too bad he's trying out for a singing competition. He's lousy at that. He does not get through to Hollywood.)

Student teacher Scott Dangerfield has beautiful hair, great glasses and lovely-to-look-at lips.

"You might be my favorite I've seen so far!" gushes a smitten JLo.

"Oh my God. I swear -- Wowa!" she adds for good measure.

JLo give him a big thumbs up. Randy gives him a "hundred million percent" yes vote. Randy has momentarily mistaken this for a couple seasons back, when that gag was fresh.

"This is the Unassuming Season - never judge a book by its cover!" Randy adds.

"Keep the hair, keep the glasses - I love all of it!" JLo continues to coo at this guy.

"The way he moves his body ..." she says dreamily, after he leaves the room. The "American Idol" Decency Police get their stun guns out of mothballs.

"Jennifer Lopez said I was her favorite so far," Dangerfield tells his posse outside. "I almost fainted at that point but I caught myself."

"Did you give her my number?" asked one of Dangerfield's guy pals

One annoying Packers fanatic, and one Steven Tyler fanatic later, we come to the audition they've been teasing for days -- the one that's going to make us weep buckets.

Chris Medina, 26, has been engaged for years. But in October 2009, his fiancee got into a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The doctors did not think she would survive, but a month and a half after the accident she woke up. She uses a wheelchair, and he helps her mother take care of her. Chris tells the camera that he was only a couple months away from taking marriage vows promising to love her in sickness and health ... till death do us part. "And what kind of a guy would I be, if I walked out when she needed me the most?" he asks.

Chris is a good singer, and the judges ask to meet his fiancée when he finishes his performance. She comes in, and they all hug, and she leaves carrying Chris's ticket to Hollywood -- a three-hankie finish.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 27, 2011; 12:30 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Good re-cap, critique...but the "Seabiscuit" slight isn't working anymore...he's got the gig, he does his thing and the show is still number one by a huge margin (sadly). He is doing right by the show and the audience, so it's probably time to find another target.

Posted by: robredd | January 27, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse

I am so amazingly surprised at American Idol! I was never a die hard AI fan, but thought I would miss Simon (because I was never mad at him for his blunt,sometimes crude/rude(sometimes humorous)comments. But Steve Tyler is awesome!!! He Being the unofficial male replacement for Simon, but he is so Real and Honest and Original! I love it! And the media did J-Lo wrong making her out to be a diva, and she is "Jenny from the block" She was Jenny from the block after the whole "Bennifer" media circus, and she got wit Mark A. but she is genuine! And finally, Randy... he so happy to have a job that he sometime criticized the contestants for not acknowledging him,but Randy albeit on tv/AI we see you all the time! LOL Let the newbees have their moment, you will always be our collective "dogg"!! So basically the season American Idol rocks!!!

Posted by: sexysadie016 | January 27, 2011 3:03 AM | Report abuse

One of those 15 year olds who made it to Hollywood from Milwaukee was not featured on the show tonite. She is much, much better than ANY 15 year old they have shown so far. Her name is Hanani Taylor. She is phenomenal. America would have been in for a real treat but they didn't show her singing. She auditioned with "I Am Changing." I saw her audition in the stadium at Milwaukee. No one could believe her big, strong Jennifer Hudson voice. Watch her on YouTube at:

Posted by: liveforsea | January 27, 2011 3:43 AM | Report abuse

Stop just reading the news and take action and be part of the solution, best place to study Criminal Justice is "United Forensic College"

Posted by: owenrile | January 27, 2011 5:35 AM | Report abuse

"Molly DeWolf Swensen is all blonde hair and long legs -- a real "looker," as they used to say. Molly DeWolf Swensen wants America to know "I'm now working in the White House for the Obama Administration and I'm in love with this president.""

Oh, no. Is this gonna be the Left's Bristol Palin? The one that people vote for just for political reasons? Argghh not that again.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | January 27, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Three hankie finish is right. Everyone please note that Chris is from Illinois, not Wisconsin! Chris has a nice voice and his high notes were good. I liked the intern (Ms Legs and Hair) - she seems to have a great sense of humor too but I wasn't in love with her voice. I'm also not in crazy about the Summerfest employee, she sings okay but I'm pretty sure I'll get tired of her personality real soon (if she makes it). All in all, the Milwaukee show was fun to watch!!

Posted by: MILWI | January 27, 2011 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, J-Lo is threatened by women she perceives as more impressive than herself, a fact that reduces her usual star quality. She melted for the guys, and was supportive of almost all of the women. But when a heavy hitter showed up (the Harvard/White House beauty), Ms. Lopez looked stricken. When Ms. Swenson belted out an impressive version of 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay' (triple or is that quadruple threat?), Ms. Lopez's face froze. No gushing for the Ivy League chanteuse. I understand - for most people, that's a formidable package to have before you, but only if you regard her as competition. A real star should not be threatened, nor find her own attractions diminished. I hope that Ms. Lopez in her capacity as judge, will become more judicious. The object of the show, as annoying as it often is, is to uncover and elevate talent, not recoil from it. Maybe the best part of this season will be witnessing J-Lo's evolution from someone who sees herself as still fighting for her place in the limelight, to someone with the power to bestow that light. That would be a real star turn.

Posted by: Parsimonia | January 27, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Lisa missed that one 15 year old female contestant that appeared early on on the show that cried her way on to the Hollywood. She was the one that drove 15 hours with her family to reach Milwaukee. She was easily the least deserving contestant that has ever made it on to Hollywood. Even Bikini girl had more talent.

The judging has been good, and by that, I mean the judging personalities. Simon will be missed, but Kara and Paula will not. The show finally has a full slate of judges who are socially adjusted, non awkward, articulate, and concise. I no longer have to reached for the mute button because some judge is both long winded and boring.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | January 27, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ya gotta love a guy who one minute can say "(s)uck a duck and see what hatches" and then later tenderly touch the hair of a wheelchair-bound woman and whisper that her fiance sings so well because he sings for her. I cannot believe how much I am lovin' Steven Tyler---and surprisingly, not missing Simon.

Posted by: chantooz | January 27, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Ya gotta love a guy who one minute can say "(s)uck a duck and see what hatches" and then later tenderly touch the hair of a wheelchair-bound woman and whisper that her fiance sings so well because he sings for her. I cannot believe how much I am lovin' Steven Tyler---and surprisingly, not missing Simon.

Posted by: chantooz | January 27, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Ya gotta love a guy who one minute says "_uck a duck and see what hatches" and then later tenderly touches the hair of a wheelchair-bound woman and whispers that her fiance sings so well because he sings for her. I cannot believe how much I am lovin' Steven Tyler---and surprisingly, not missing Simon.

Posted by: chantooz | January 27, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Excuse the repeat posts! The software kept giving me an error message.

Posted by: chantooz | January 27, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"... and I'm in love with this president."

"... she's going "to represent the administration."

Heave. Gag.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 27, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree, chantooz - I am really pleasantly surprised by Steven Tyler. One of my thoughts last night was what a sweet Dad he must be, just watching how he was with some of the girls, especially the fiance in the wheelchair. JLo is also refreshing.

I think that Simon et al being gone gives Randy a chance to come into his own and assert himself more, somehow. I am not missing any of the old judges... It'll be interesting to see how they are once the competition heats up.

Posted by: dcnative71 | January 27, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

A lot of posters here and other sites are saying the same thing I've been thinking - I do not miss the other judges at all, especially Simon, Paula and Kara. Randy is doing fine, Tyler is so funny and I like Lopez. I think they make super fine judges and I'm looking forward to the new season!

Posted by: MILWI | January 27, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Well said, MILWI. I agree.

Posted by: Oxygen1 | January 27, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I Love your blog! thanks. the Seabiscuit thing is distracting though. not funny or insightful. if you need help with a better nickname for him, drop my a line. I got a bunch. Ha ha. ( I hate lol :) ).

Posted by: mtvfig | January 31, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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