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Idol gets corny in the fields of Nebraska

After traveling from sea to shining sea, doing the Texas two-step and dealing with the sweet tea, yet bitter auditioners of South Carolina, "American Idol" judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell hoped to fare better in America's Heartland.

Greeted by more than 10,000 contest hopefuls, judges found a Tuesday evening Omaha crop of talent that was hearty, albeit a bit corny.

Gift-giving, arm wrestling, blood-curdling giggles and a wave of lyrically challenged entrants may have left viewers at home saying this year's local Idol harvest was a washout. But, for those who patiently waited, they were treated to a few prospects with blue ribbon quality.

In this case, a goldenrod invitation to Hollywood sat in the hands of 19 hopefuls.

Simon's getting soft

Thanks to a couple moments of Cowell's generosity, Jason Rich, 21, of Stout, Iowa, survived a near meltdown and half-yodeler Rachel Wicker, 23, of Richmond, Missouri hit enough serviceable notes to advance.

Elizabeth Erkert remembered the lyrics, but forgot the show's name. "I can't wait to … prove Simon wrong and show him that I am 'America's Next Top Model.'" Nice job, Liz.

Angelica Puente gained the love of the panel and her father after a very worthy lick of Celine Dion's "The Power of Love." It was one of the show's feel good moments.

The Queen of Idol

David Cook and Leo Marlowe were two of the more unique, shiny apples on the cart. Both had plenty of vocal juice, too. Cook's bluesy "Livin' on a Prayer" and Marlowe's "A Song for You" was likely the pick of the pack. The self-effacing Marlowe made no bones about his effeminate nature, either. "My mother always says she raised a perfect Homecoming queen, too bad it wasn't one of her daughters."

He forgot that a Queen is still royalty.

"American Idol" finishes its audition tour tonight in Miami at 8 p.m. on Fox. Don't miss it!

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