Olivia Newton-John spent her birthday Tuesday pulling duty as a guest judge for “American Idol” auditions and came away impressed by the singers.
“Some of them are very young and they’re green but you can see their potential. They have a different voice or a different way of presenting themselves,” Newton-John told The Associated Press after listening to hopefuls vie for a spot on Fox’s TV talent show next season.
The pop singer who starred with John Travolta in the movie “Grease” and whose hits include “I Honestly Love You” helped out with the third Los Angeles round of auditions. She joined show judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul and host Ryan Seacrest.
Other celebrity judges for next season’s auditions include Jewel, who took part in the Minneapolis tryouts, and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager in New York.
Newton-John knows what it’s like to compete. As a teenager living in Australia, she appeared on the TV show “Sing, Sing, Sing” and won a trip to her native England to pursue a music career.
It’s “terrible” having to reject an aspiring singer, she said.
“I always remember what it was like for me and what it would have felt like to be told no. So I do feel for them,” she said. “It’s hard. But sometimes it’s probably kinder for them, because they won’t pursue something they don’t really have the talent for.”
Newton-John, who turned 58 on Tuesday, had a small birthday celebration at the auditions: She was presented with a cake.
“American Idol” is scheduled to return for its sixth season in January.