SJU American Idol

Paula Abdul said he was “excellent.” Randy Jackson said his performance was “fun.” But it was the caustic criticism of Simon Cowell that ended Elias Guajardo’s chance at “American Idol” fame.

A second semester freshman at St. John’s, Guajardo, 19, said that it was very hard to deal with when he found out he would be kicked off the show. “I thought I could’ve won,” he said.

His mother introduced Guajardo, who has lived in Houston, Monterrey, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Peru and Colombia, to music at a young age.

“My mother would give me cassettes as gifts,” he said. “I love music. It helps to liberate the tensions of studying and school.”

Between the ages of 10 and 16 he performed around Mexico and Argentina. However, he stopped performing to continue his education, which he says is the key to what he wants.

Guajardo heard of the “American Idol” auditions through the Internet due to the success of Britain’s “Pop Idol.” The audition was in April 2002, but he found out in March and only had a short time to prepare. The audition process was a long one – Guajardo had to audition in front of producers and executives before making it to the actual audition with the three judges.

“I performed Savage Garden’s ‘I Knew I Loved You before I Met You’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Oops (I Did It Again)’,” he said.

It took about four hours before Guajardo would know if he made it to the next round. He remembered that the host even doubted he would make it to Los Angeles.

The performers auditioned in groups of ten. Guajardo was the only member in his group to make it to the Los Angeles round, but after three days in sunny L.A., he would have to return home.

“I made a lot of friends through this experience,” he said. “We would hang out in the hotels and eat pizza and just talk.”

“American Idol” finally aired its first episode mid-June. By the second episode, the nation already disliked Simon.

“Simon was very difficult but he’s an actor just like the rest of the judges,” Guajardo said,

“They weren’t the ones making the decisions, the producers were. I thought Paula was a very sweet person and Randy was great. They were very professional.”

Guajardo pointed out that the performers on “American Idol” such as Justin Guarini, Nikki McKibbin and Kelly Clarkson were not prefabricated as many people thought. “They were totally real,” he said.

On the second episode of the show, Guajardo’s audition and judges feedback was aired. He had his 50 seconds of fame.

“I didn’t know I was on TV,” he said, “I was in Mexico when they aired it and then school started. I didn’t get a chance to watch the show. Not because I didn’t want to, but I had no time.”

Guajardo has not let his fame get to his head. He is actively involved on campus with the performing arts, Student Government, Inc., and the University’s conduct board. His hobbies include exercising, hanging out and having fun, and listening to music.

“I see myself as a businessman,” he said about his future. “If not a successful businessman, then a performer or politician.”

Guajardo is also auditioning for “American Idol II,” in New York City on Oct. 24. Although he says that he had doubts about auditioning again, he has come up with an idea that he says will shock the judges.

“I’m ready to challenge Simon,” he promised.

Overall, Guajardo says that it was a great experience. It taught him to be himself and to never give up on a dream.

“Performing is the hardest work I’ve ever done,” he said, “You have to be original and it’s really difficult to be yourself.”

“I would never let success get to my head,” he added. “You have to stay on Earth.”