American Idol was all about the unexpected Wednesday as the judges hit up Kansas City for day two of the Season 8 auditions.

The city is especially fitting since it’s the hometown of David Cook and with that it probably would have also been fitting for the latest American Idol to make an appearance. But Cook was nowhere to be found (except in the 50 tributes they did to him). Instead we got a surprise visit from former finalist – and Texan – Jason Castro.

No, Castro wasn’t going for round two. He was there being supportive of his brother’s successful audition. But it’s going to take more than Jason’s support to get Michael through the Hollywood rounds. A dye job would be a good place to start, more than 20 days of singing experience would be another.

Speaking of contestants breaking the “if your name isn’t Pink, your hair shouldn’t be” rule, congratulations to Hollywood hopeful Emily Hughes on becoming 2009’s first naked Idol picture scandal. It took less than 24-hours after the band-ditching rocker’s audition aired for America to discover her pale bare butt on display on the Internet for the world to see.

Now there’s a girl who’s serious about putting her a** on the line.

Unlike Paula Abdul, who continues to just mimic and echo everything that new judge Kara DioGuardi says and does. With 12 of Wednesday’s 19 featured contestants whisked off to Hollywood, and 10 of those 12 voted in unanimously, the parrot routine puts Abdul just one notch bellow the rest of the panel on a scale from snoozefest to I-want-to-kick-a-pencil-through-my-ear. The spars were rare, and even when they did come around they made Iron Chef seem like mixed martial arts.

The only great zinger of the night came from Simon Cowell, when he told Chelsea Marquardt she sounded how a cat would right before it hit the ground after falling off the Empire State building.

But just as I thought my knight in shining insults was finally back in action, he disappeared into the sunset just as quickly as he arrived.

I will however let it all slide this once, because given the circumstances, it might not have been their fault. Danny Gokey’s tear-jerking story of his wife’s tragic death, and the subsequent dedication of his kick-ass audition to her memory was powerful enough to render just about anyone incapable of uttering much more than, “you’re through to Hollywood” and “can you please pass the tissues?”

But next week brings us San Francisco and Louisville, and the hall pass will be no longer. Do your job, judges. If people are great, inspire us by singing their praises. If people are horrible make us feel better about ourselves by giving as detailed a description as possible as to why they were so bad. And with most people somewhere in between, entertain us with the kind of hearty, no-holds-bar battles for which this crew is so famous. That, after all, is what we’ve come to expect.