Twenty-one-year-old audio engineer Israel McFarland was a recent contestant on “American Idol,” where he received some life advice from judge Katy Perry. Though McFarland was raised in a conservative Christian home, he is seeking to forge a different path with his life and music, something that Perry did herself.
As McFarland introduced himself, Perry noted the uniqueness of his first name.
“My parents…liked to name us all names from the Bible,” McFarland said. When Perry asked if his upbringing was strict, McFarland said, “Yeah, very strict. My parents—they did not like secular music. [My mom will] still comment if she hears a cuss word in my songs.” He went on to express that cussing is “one of the few things in life I enjoy.”
At that statement, judge Luke Bryan joked with an exclamatory, “Yes!”
“Let me give you a little piece of advice,” Perry said to McFarland. “Write a song called ‘I Kissed a Boy and I Liked It,’ and let [your parents] hear it for the first time on their own on the radio.”
Perry was referencing her own 2008 song, “I Kissed a Girl,” which was about experimenting with same-sex kissing and enjoying it. When the song came out, it was controversial, particularly in conservative circles. It was also a marked departure from Perry’s earlier life as a former CCM artist and daughter of a Pentecostal preacher.
Perry then leaned back in her chair with a heavy sigh and joked, “Alright, Israel, what Satan music are you going to share with us today?”
McFarland shared that he would be singing a song called “The Cost,” which is about all the things an artist must sacrifice to pursue their dreams. The three judges expressed shock and amusement at the fact that McFarland dropped two f-bombs when introducing the song.
Ultimately, the “American Idol” judges didn’t think McFarland’s vocal performance was strong enough to move on to the next phase of the competition.