About LauraBelle

Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, January 24th – The Return


I’m telling you I don’t know how these judges do it. Seven different audition cities, one after another, a few really interesting talents, a few more interesting people, and a lot of people that are just terrible. It’s day four of the auditions, and I really need to be wowed. Of course, I’m really tired, beat, and worn out after my martial arts classes tonight, so that accounts for my crankiness. I’m just feeling a little bit like Simon.

Here’s something to pep me up a little. We have a guest judge, Carole Bayer Sager, fitting, since we’re in New York, and as Randy sings to us, “She’s from New York!” She’s earned an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and some Golden Globes as well. We know she has to have a good ear, but will she have it in her to give constructive criticism? Paula begs whoever will listen that she wants to sit next to Carole. She doesn’t, so apparently they just like the girl boy girl boy seating arrangement.

I see the face walking in on the next contestant, and he’s immediately recognizable. Ian Benardo, 25, of Bronx, New York, tried out last year for So You Think You Can Dance. There’s no forgetting that face and terrible ‘tude. He had walked in with an air about him and asked where to put his fur during the dancing audition, then totally dissed Nigel Lythgoe. Ryan calls it right, saying he has an inflated sense of entitlement. Ian says everyone that sees him tells him he was fantastic last summer. He walks down the street now, saying he’s going to be the next American Idol, and people are just looking at him, telling him, “No.” He believes after his stint on American Idol, we’ll be asking, “Taylor who? Carrie Underwear? Fantasia When?” This guy isn’t doing a whole lot to cheer me up.

Walking in to his audition, he’s asked why he’s here, and says, “To try out for American Idol. Like, why else would I be here?” He thought it would be nice to audition, to add to his already long and impressive resume. He then takes off a ratty looking stole, and says it’s chinchilla, and he’s wearing it to show the world he’s a superstar and how wealthy he can be. Simon points out he’s not a superstar, and Benardo says he’s a singer, dancer, and superstar, and you can ask his friends, family, and therapists, as he has two. (That would be his total of therapists, not friends) His heavy Bronx accent and lisp are still very audible as he sings Gloria. As Paula laughs, Randy says he doesn’t now what to say. Ian suggests he say Hollywood, three syllables. He doesn’t think it’s that hard. Randy asks if he’s for real, and Ian pinches himself and says he’s breathing. He’s real.

Simon breaks this up and says what it is is a really hammy, bad audition. He goes on through Ian’s interruptions, and says whatever he aspires to be, it obviously isn’t a singer, as this was just bad, and not even funny. He’s not good at anything. Ian then objects to a British person telling him what America wants. Simon says it’s just rubbish, and Ian asks if that’s a British word or garbage. Simon advises him to take his schtick and do it outside, because he’s bored with him. Ian, as a taxpaying American, wants to see Simon’s visa. Simon asks security to take him out, and Ian complains all the way out the door. He tells Ryan he’s going to call the Enquirer, and tell them the dodo bird is not extinct, as it’s in there, and his name is Simon Cowell. He’s going to buy his own first class ticket to Hollywood, because he can, and says Hollywood isn’t even that great, as it’s like New Jersey with celebrities. Ick. Just ick. I’ve made up my mind the next time he appears on a reality show audition, I’m not covering him. Why give him that attention he’s so sorely looking for. He’s a waste of space and my time, and not doing anything for my mood.

Ryan explains to us that it’s intense enough to audition, but lying to your parents about being there make it even more intense. Sarah Burgess, 19, of East Palestine, Ohio, says her parents don’t want her to audition, as they don’t think she can do it, but it means so much to her. She and her dad butt heads all the time, as they’re so different. She loves him, but they’re on different levels. He never believes in her, but she wants to hear him say how proud he is of her, as all she ever hears is how disappointed his is. She never meets his expectations. This is heart wrenching.

As Sarah walks in for her audition, Paula reads on the notes that it says her parents don’t know she’s there, and they think she’s at a friend’s house in Ohio. Simon asks if they don’t want her to be a singer, and she says no, with all four judges saying, “Awww.” Sarah explains he told her if she goes to the audition, he wouldn’t be helping her with school, but she just couldn’t not come. Randy tells her to prove them wrong, and Sarah launches into Call Me by Blondie, sounding much better than Perla last week. Simon says he likes her, and likes the fact she’s just done this. She’s not the best singer they’ve heard, but he thinks she’s a trier. He doesn’t think she has a bad voice, and he really does like her. Randy says he likes her too, and she has a different sounding voice. He likes that she wants to be different. Carole says she does too. She wants to be home watching Sarah on TV, and having her father say he can’t believe it, as she moves ahead. Sarah cries, and Paula says she is very proud of Sarah and thinks she is one very brave girl. They all give her yeses across the board, and as she walks out crying, Carole says Sarah touched her.

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