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When we spoke to R.L. Bell earlier this week, he was tight-lipped about his success in the audition round of Karaoke Battle USA, which was filmed at the House of Blues in June. But during tonight's episode, which featured the Houston auditions, Bell's renditions of Lionel Richie's "Three Times a Lady" and Lou Rawls's "You'll Never Find..." got the Spring native through to the show's semifinals in Los Angeles.
In the first round of the Houston auditions, Bell impressed the judges and the audience with his classic R&B stylings as well as his physique; judge Carnie Wilson fanned herself as he showed off his biceps (he used to be a professional bodybuilder) and asked, "Is anybody else getting hot?" After he performed, judge Brian Scott commented, "The guy with the guns just shot this place all to hell!" Judge Joe Levy called his Rawls cover "hot buttered soul."
Bell was named best in the southern region alongside Nashville karaoke-er Charlotte Hicks; they'll join Cassandra Mae and Josh Scholl (winners in the northern region) and Meredith McHenry and Sammy Vijarro (winners of the western regional championships).
Karaoke Battle USA airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays on ABC.