Michael Slezak
January 15, 2009 AT 08:47 AM EST

It’s appropriate that Episode 2 of American Idol‘s eighth season focused on the ‘Show Me’ state, since the producers actually focused on Hollywood-bound contestants for a change — can I get a big, enthusiastic “holla!” up in here? — and spent a lot less time chasing trainwrecks. During the two hour telecast, we got to see 13 of the 27 Kansas City hopefuls who received Golden Tickets, and while I can’t say that any of ’em rocked my world like Paris Bennett’s “Take Five”  from back in season 5 (yeah, that one tops my list of Idol’s 12 Greatest Auditions Ever), there were a lot of solid singers on display, and better still, many appeared to have been plucked from day-job obscurity (i.e. welder Matt Breitzke), rather than pre-selected from lists of artists who’ve recently been dropped by major labels (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Anyhow, weigh in with your thoughts on tonight’s episode, then be sure to check back around 6 a.m. for my full TV Watch episode recap. On that note, I’d better start frantically hunting and pecking; it’s after 10 p.m., and I don’t know where my opening paragraph is.

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