‘American Idol’s’ Katie Belle Clears Night 1 of Hollywood Week
“American Idol” contestant Katie Belle’s evolving musical style allows her to change every day. “Part of the fun of the [music] journey is just figuring out who you are,” says Belle. She believes change has a negative connotation that should be eradicated.
Belle, 19, is an Atlanta-based singer, songwriter and model who auditioned for “American Idol” this year for its 17th season. She said she has never been so nervous for a performance in her entire life until she faced the show’s judges. The three judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie are all “genetically flawless,” according to Belle
She said, “They’re all beautiful human beings and just the energy that radiates off of all three of them is enough to make you shake in your boots, which is what I was doing.” When she watched her audition tape, she was “surprised” to see how calm and collected she looked in front of the celebrity panel.
For her audition, she chose Jennifer Hudson’s cover of “Golden Slumbers,” originally performed by The Beatles, which sealed her a golden ticket. This song was inspired by the animated film “Sing.” Belle said, “It’s one of my favorite little cartoons, and when I knew I wanted to audition for ‘Idol,’ I was watching that movie, and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to practice this song a lot and I’m going to nail it.’”
She chose to audition for “American Idol” because it’s the “OG” of singing competitions. “Every other singing show is basically a spin-off of ‘Idol,’ so how could I not choose ‘Idol’ over another show — it’s the original singing show.”
Her experience with the first stage of auditions to get to the celebrity judges was “super chill.” Her first audition was in Atlanta, where she only had to sing three songs before being selected to move forward. After she was chosen, she was “really excited at first.” However, once her nerves set in, she realized the whole process wouldn’t be “all fun and games.”
She said, “This is not only a competition, I’m gonna be televised in front of national television, so I have to take this seriously. So, at first, I was really excited and then I got a little nervous and then I was excited again and then I got nervous. It was just kind of back and forth between those two emotions.”
After singing “Golden Slumbers,” Perry joked that she looked like “a gosh darn super model.” Soon after, Bryan called her “the Giselle of Georgia.” Her looks paired with the judges’ comments had numerous other media outlets raving over her audition, saying Bryan was “swooning” over Belle. She believes the way her audition was executed is the reason why she’s receiving so much attention.
“My numbers went up to 10,000 followers on Instagram in 48 hours, and I don’t think that would have happened if I didn’t have the audition that I had,” Belle said. “The YouTube video for my audition is almost at a million views — I wouldn’t be surprised if it reached a million views by the end of the day.”
Although she “appreciates” Bryan’s comments, she’s now “a little anxious” over the rise in fame. “The Internet can be a very dark and scary place. It’s not always the nicest,” says Belle. Even though she always “planned” on being successful in the music industry, it makes her “sad” that she has to be careful now with everything she says and does. “I can’t say anything or just do anything — people get offended,” she said. “And now that I’m on national television, I’m sure I have some young girls that look up to me.”
Belle began writing songs when she was 10, but she had a lot of trouble converting the thoughts in her head onto paper. “I really didn’t like [songwriting] at first because when I think in my head about something that is important to me, something I need to say, it never really comes out the same way on paper. I feel like I’ve always had these really great thoughts, but I just never knew how to say it in the right way.”
Although she grew “nervous” about continuing to write songs, her team encouraged her to keep trying. “It’s now one of my favorite parts of creating music because no one can tell my story better than myself,” said Belle.
As her lyrics changed with age, so did her sound. Belle is a former country artist who is now experimenting with pop and indie/alternative music. Although she’s changing her sound, she believes she can always go back to country, or try a completely new genre. “I wake up a different person every day,” she said. “So, I just make music that comes from my heart.”
According to Belle, change is “good” and something everyone should strive for. “People are like, ‘Oh, you’ve changed,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God, I love that,’” Belle said.
“[Change] is the evolution of humans. We’re all melting and it’s not good to not grow. You should want to grow, and you should want to change. Change is good.”
Among 175 judges’ picks, Belle’s group performance on the first night of Hollywood Week allowed her to remain on the show. Thank goodness for her that there was no change last night.