I can answer some of your questions
2. Does A-kon have any way of muting vocals from tracks? If we semi-mute ours (Audacity is great... 70% of the time), do they still dock for having assisted vocals or iffy sounding music?
No. You'll need to do any edits to your music on your own. Whatever you bring, is what we will play.
If you're competing in the Traditional contest, we are much more understanding about music. Some songs simply don't have karaoke tracks. We are more concerned about your vocal ability and overall performance than say your music track.
3. How many people generally pass each round (specifically for the "Traditional" entries, being a newb)? Guessing by the final length... like 10 people max make it into the final, maybe...? Out of like... 50, with the length of auditions. xD;;; Trying to be optimistically pessimistic, if that makes sense...
It usually depends on how many auditions we have. I usually take around 15 to second round for the Traditional contest. If I feel there is enough time to take more, I will. But 15 is usually my general go-to number. Advanced I usually take a smaller number - around 5 or 7 at most.
3.5 Is there a backup-in-case-there's-a-no-show list for the hopeful nooblets?
I always have 2 runner ups. They are asked to come to the next round in the event people no-show. And trust me, there have been MANY no-shows in the past. There have been one or two instances where a runner-up was given the go ahead to be in the contest due to a no-show and then ended up placing in the finals...
4. More of a judge question, but do they grade you on performance for the second round? I know the first is on voice and the third is on performance, but the second round is new to me. : D...
Both second and final rounds you are judged on vocal ability/technique, stage presence, showmanship, and stage appeal.