VIDEO: Chris Medina’s Story & Song Steals American Idol’s Milwaukee Auditions

On Wednesday’s edition of American Idol, judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez surveyed the talent brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a 26-year-old barista would steal the show with an emotional performance buoyed by a heart-wrenching backstory.

Contestant Chris Medina, from Oak Forest, Illinois, sang The Script’s Breakeven to his fiancée Juliana, who’s in a wheelchair and suffers from brain damage after a car accident in October 2009. The judges were moved by Medina’s emotional performance, as well as his devotion to his significant other, and agreed to send him to Hollywood.

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Another lesson learned on Wednesday’s show is that the judges’ panel is no longer has that “Good Cop, Bad Cop” vibe to it without snarky Simon Cowell giving reality checks to contestants sorely in need of them. Instead, Tyler and Lopez strive to be saintly, which leads to some hopefuls perhaps  passing through who would never have never had a chance in the Simon era.

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Case in point: Emma Henry, 15, whose rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors fell a little short, but the judges gave her a pass when she began crying. Another contestant named Alyson Jados professed her fandom for Tyler before belting out a sub-par rendition of his Aerosmith hit, Come Together. Despite her shortcomings, Tyler gave her the pass to Hollywood.

American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday on Fox at 8/7c.

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