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American Idol - Poor Boys and Pilgrims With Families and We Are Going To Graceland

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Clearly, things are amiss in Memphis. Maybe it’s something in the water. Maybe it’s too humid there. I really don’t know. Whatever the reason, it brought some truly special behavior to last night’s auditions.

Simon yelled at cheerleaders and band nerds. Paul pinched nipples and hugged strangers. Ryan cursed and got huffy. And everyone was either being flipped off or giving someone else the finger (yes, I know the finger).

Talentwise, the episode was terrifying. We met a sprightly, pep-infused cheering captain who attempted to cabaret his way to Hollywood. We met a slightly robotic 16-year-old mega-mumbler/non-blinker (made extra creepy by her colored contact lenses). There were divorcees defaming their ex-wives on national television, declarations of love for our valiant panelists, confident delusions of grandeur and desperate cries for help.

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Travis McKinney wanted to bring “emotion” to American Idol. He did some hybrid Michael Jackson dance/Tai Chi move while spitting feverish, scatty rap about how much he loves his woman. A man who looked like an Amish/Castro/Jesus sang a little Johnny Cash (he advanced to the next round). Sundance Head, son of Beatles-hater Roy Head, may be the best male singer to ever audition for American Idol. And the modest, professional background singer Melinda Doolittle, had the voice that could win the entire competition.

Final count: 16,000 entered. 22 advanced.

...The Gothamists are up next -- Tonight @ 8p American Idol takes over NYC.