Is Simon Cowell Still Haunted by this Season 9 Audition? We Certainly Can’t Forget

Simon Cowell's worst nightmare, Vanessa JohnstonMatthew Honda | Talent Recap

American Idol always has its fair share of not-so-on-key auditions, but who could forget Vanessa Johnston’s Season 9 appearance? After her audition, Simon Cowell’s nightmares found a new source of terror. Her chipper attitude, her “moves,” and her interesting rendition of an Etta James classic. How can we forget?

Remembering Vanessa Johnston, Simon Cowell’s biggest nightmare

The Idol audition tour found Johnston in Dallas, Texas. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and it quickly became obvious that the saying applied to Johnston’s positivity and energy.

In her intro reel, Johnston expressed her hope that her optimism “can go through the TV and people would be like ‘Wow! I need to be happy all the time like her.'”

She was even shown trying to share her positive vibes with fellow auditioners as they waited. Even if she did inspire some of us to be more positive, there were little positive points to her audition. 

The Audition that ‘Look and Sounds’ Like Cowell’s Nightmares

The song she chose to win the judges over with was “At Last” by Etta James, a timeless 60’s classic. Johnston gets right into it and we are soured at the first note. Add to that, her very animated performance.

From her wardrobe to her body movements, the judges could not ignore the over the top personality in their critiques.

Kara DioGuardi compared her head movements to that of Britney Spears, and Randy Jackson mentions it almost looked like she was in search of lost notes.

The panel looked in disbelief at what they were witnessing throughout Johnston’s off-key tune. The guest judge that episode, Joe Jonas, couldn’t help but laugh through it. The audition is brought to a prompt halt by Cowell, after her attempt to hit a high note goes very wrong. 

Johnston delivered both a visual and audible experience like no one else. Cowell went as far as to say her audition is what “his nightmares look and sound like” and is in shock at her suggestion to attempt another song.

Needless to say, Vanessa never made it to Hollywood, but her four “no’s” didn’t break her positive, chipper spirit. She may be sleeping easy, and hopefully, Cowell has also been able to get some sleep since then.


Matthew Honda
Matthew Honda

Matthew Honda is a contributing writer for Talent Recap. He's new to writing but certainly not new to binging television. If he's not sitting down to some reality TV, you might find him practicing some extreme sport, snapping photos, or shooting some pool.

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