About LauraBelle

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

American Idol 9, Jan. 26 – Hot and Cold Like the Guest Judge


So far, the season has boiled down to Pants On the Ground and Orlando. That’s it. Nothing else has really excited me that much. Tonight we’re in Los Angeles, where people will still be excited to “go to Hollywood,” with guest judges Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry. I’m guessing one one day and the other the next.

Avril Lavigne is on the panel the first morning in L.A., along with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi, and Avril is wearing some funky hoody with ears, or are those horns? Auditioning first is Neil Goldstein, 19, data entry tech, Redlands, CA, who claims to have an IQ of 168. He’s an admitted a geek who reads, is way too into computers, and has about a thousand little hobbies, including music and dancing. Performing is in his heart to exhilarate, to exult, to be vulunerable, have passions, loves, hates, etc. Whatever. To express him, the title of his album would be called Hope. I sense this won’t go well.

When the judges ask how old he is, he makes a crack about looking older than 19, and gets crickets from the judges. He sings Rock ‘n Roll Dream Come True by Meat Loaf, and he’s not great, but he can at least carry a tune, but has way too much weird vibrato. then forgets his lyrics. He likes the way he sounded, but Simon doesn’t think he’s suited for the business. Neil declares if they want to help him, to send him ahead; he’s refusing to leave. Simon disagrees again, and they argue. His parents tell Ryan Seacrest he does well under pressure. The other judges back Simon, and Neil gets the offer of leaving on his own or with an escort, and he chooses on his own, as he tells Simon to try and not hit anyone else with the door, as he hit Neil with the door when he was leaving earlier.

Jim Ranger, 27, Bakersfield, CA, is a worship pastor. He’s been married seven years and has three kids which keep their lives very busy. He feels good about today and very confident. He doesn’t have the look of a good audition, yet I have the sneaking suspicion he will be. He’s singing his own composition. He’s definitely a good audtion. He could use a little sharpening, but the man has some good soul in him.

Simon thinks he has a good authentic voice, and Avril asks about his family and job, noting he has to leave everything to be a pop star, which could be difficult for him, but she does think he has a good voice. Randy likes the vibe of his voice. Simon votes yes, Avril no, and Kara doesn’t know how he’ll be dedicated to everything, his church, family, and music all at once. We don’t see the final judgement, but he walks out with a golden ticket. The possibilities of being able to provide for his family bring him to tears.

We have the usual montage of bad auditions, including what I think was a bad Elvis impersonation. Damien Lefavor, 26, a sandwich maker, Seattle, is addicted to martial ats, and says it’s his first great love. Coming from another martial artist, he’s not that good. He also believes he’s a pacifist, saying the best way to not get hurt is to not fight. I’m not sure where he’s going with this. If he does martial arts only as an art and not to defend himself when needed, I don’t understand the point. He has a note he’s been trying to hit for years. The judges ask which sandwich is hot at the moment, and his answer is pepperoni.

Damien is singing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. He seems like he’s trying to cover up his lack of voice with way too affected vocals. His voice cracks, and he gets upset with himself, and whistles, then looks to the ceiling saying he can’t believe he just screwed up as badly as he could have expected to. Simon suggests he just go, and he does. Damien says outside that he choked badly.

Mary Powers, 28, a singer, Burbank, has a daughter with a prediction that her mom is going to win the show and be the top 14 or something. She tells the judges her daughter loves Simon, as the little girls is telling Ryan outside that she’s always wanted to meet Simon, as he’s the only “negativity one.” Mary sings some Pat Benatar and has some good, raw talent. Simon thinks she has a really good voice, yet everything about her is too cliche, as she tries to dress like a rock star. Avril likes her character and cool tone, and Randy likes that she’s a little girl with a big huge voice. It’s yeses across the board. Mary’s daughter gets to meet Simon afterward, and he asks her to shake his hand, then gives her a kiss. He wants to be sure she isn’t his daughter.

A.J. Mendoza, 20, in musical theater, Upland, CA, is a big fan of Adam Lambert’s and shopped a demo of his to Adam, and he claims last year’s runnerup had nothing but good things to say, which really helped his confidence in his vocal ability. He’s singing The Cult of Personality by Living Color, and seems like he trying too hard to be Adam. Hey, there’s only one Adam. This guy doesn’t cut it. Simon thinks it sounds like he went to the dentist about ten minutes ago with a ton of anesthetics. Kara tells him he didn’t even open his mouth. He now opens his mouth and he looks like he’s at the dentist, as he gets all noes. He’s shocked; we’re not.

At the start of day two, we have Katy Perry replacing Avril, and she’s waiting for the other judges to arrive … by helicopter, which she finds ridiculous. The first contestant up is Austin Fullmer, 19, a water treatment tech, Glendale, CA. He’s the type of guy to bring people onstage and not care if people touch him. He doesn’t think anyone has ever been like him, even sexually, on the show before. He’s singing Surrender.


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