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It's Kara vs. Katy on 'Idol' Los Angeles auditions

Note: Lisa de Moraes is recovering from the collision of the Winter TV Press Tour and NBC/Conan debacle, and will be back next week. In the meantime, WaPo Team TV member Emily Yahr recaps the Los Angeles auditions:

As an "American Idol" audition city, Los Angeles is always a mixed bag -- you never know whether you're going to get a polished professional who was this close to making it, or someone delusional enough to move to Hollywood to become a singing sensation. Out of 27 people that Ryan Seacrest alleges got golden tickets, we see a whopping five that make it through to Hollywood, and the most entertaining part is a mini-feud between Kara DioGuardi and guest judge Katy Perry.

Austin Fullmer goes all out at 'Idol's' Los Angeles auditions. (Michael Becker -- Fox)

Guest judge #1 Avril Lavigne arrives on the first day, wearing a hoodie that looks like a mix between Hello Kitty and the devil. The producers tout her young age -- a mere 25-years-old -- but she looks less-than-thrilled to be there.

Nineteen-year-old Neil Goldstein, whose hair randomly changes lengths throughout his audition package, proves he's introspective by drawing lipstick hearts on mirrors and gazing solemnly into them. He starts to sing Meat Loaf's "Rock N Roll Dreams Come True," but instantly forgets the words. Simon cackles and the judges start saying "no way." Neil refuses to go and proclaims "There is no reality but what we make for ourselves," which we thought was Thoreau, but a Google search reveals is from "Terminator." The judges threaten security and he leaves, but not before Avril purrs, "Awk-warrrrd."

Next up is Jim Ranger, 27, who is surrounded by cute children as he shows up for the audition -- which any "Idol" viewer knows instantly increases your chances. He sings an original song, and Seacrest explains to the small children waiting outside that it's a risky choice. The judges are iffy and Avril questions his time management skills. "You're married and have three children? And you're a pastor?" she asks scornfully, reminding him of all the travel involved with being a singer. Avril shoots him down, but the others say yes and he's through.

A few more horrific singers pass through before 26-year-old Damien Lefavor, who does some martial arts routines before launching into a version of the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" that sounds like he's going to be violently ill. Luckily, he's got a firmer grasp on reality than most contestants, and saves a few shreds of dignity by leaving before the judges have a chance to unanimously send him away.

Mary Powers, 28, is instantly likable, mostly because her 8-year-old daughter is a huge Simon Cowell fan who says her mom is going to "win and be on the top 14 or something." Mary sings Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield," and Avril loves her "raspy, punk rock" tone. Simon calls out Mary for being a walking Rocker Chick Cliche -- glittery black vest, black leather pants and tons of eyeliner -- but ultimately sends her through.

After a montage of Adam Lambert clones -- including A.J. Mendoza, 20, who sings like he's just finished a round of anesthesia at the denist -- and a few more scowls from Avril, day one is finished.

On the second day, Katy Perry of "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" fame arrives, and wonders out loud why the judges are arriving to the auditions via helicopter. She's perhaps the first guest judge who doesn't play it cool, and is legitimately frightened when the first singer, 19-year-old Austin Fullmer, does a spastic dance routine on the ground while belting Cheap Trick's "Surrender," and is given a resounding "no." "Are they frisked before they come in here?" Katy asks.

The next contestant, Andrew Garcia, 23, talks about his parents both being involved with gangs, but how they wanted to give him a better life. It's a heartbreaking story, and fortunately, Andrew has a great voice. The judges love his version of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning," and he sails through.

Pure, wholesome, 23-year-old Tasha Layton sings "Baby Baby Baby" by Joss Stone, and explains she's a personal assistant by day, and minister by night. How can the judges resist?

Way too much time is spent on Jason Greene 21, an intensely focused, terrible singer who is able to make the phrase "I'm a student" sound chilling. After a disturbing edition of "I Touch Myself" that includes writhing on the floor -- with shots of Kara and Randy singing along -- and a few sexual innuendos, Jason is dismissed.

And in the rare montage that is too short, Katy and Kara are shown disagreeing on almost everything. Kara, who's had quite the attitude this season, is smacked down repeatedly by Katy's dissenting opinions. "We used to be friends!" Kara exclaims, and bursts into a mocking version of "I Kissed a Girl." "Please stop. I'll have to throw my Coke in your face," Katy snaps.

Finally, Chris Golightly, 25, arrives as the last contestant. He has a very sad back story that includes many foster homes, along with a decent voice as he sings Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." Randy says he's "interesting." Kara starts to go on about how Chris has such a powerful story, Katy cuts her off with,"This is not a Lifetime movie, sweetheart," (Was that a slap at "The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life is Not a Fairytale"?!) Before things can get really ugly, Randy, of all people, has to break things up and call for a vote. Chris is going to Hollywood.

As the episode draws to a close, Ryan Seacrest says 22 others made it through -- but apparently, are not interesting enough for reality TV.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 27, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: NPH, Joe Jonas show the best and worst on 'Idol'


Nice job, Emily! LOVED this post! :)

Posted by: raquel2 | January 27, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I say the Mick Jagger wannabe makes a return when surprise Hollywood week Helper Mick Jagger preps the group.

The "I touch myself" dude should be screened for STDs immediately and the set should be scrubbed. Ick!

Katy loved her cleavage! (me too!)

Posted by: RightWinger1 | January 27, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I LOVE this column! Though reading this DOES make me want to watch, I'll start watching AI when the "real" show starts.

Posted by: MrsKirby | January 27, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Loved Katy, Kara needed a serious smackdown. Maybe Russell Brand next?!

Posted by: observer23 | January 27, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Can Katy Perry be a permanent judge? We always say Simon is the only one worth listening to, but Katy gave him a run for his money. The best guest judge ever!

Posted by: bdean1 | January 29, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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