‘Idol’ Judges Break Their Silence Over Caleb Kennedy’s Sudden Exit: It Was ‘Devastating News’

The 'American Idol' judges are finally speaking out about Caleb Kennedy leaving the show after a video controversy. Luke Bryan called the situation 'devastating,' while Lionel Richie said it was 'unfortunate.'

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The American Idol semi-finals were supposed to feature the top 5 artists, but it was only the top 4 who performed because Caleb Kennedy left the show after a controversial video surfaced online days before. After the May 16 episode, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie finally weighed in about the Caleb situation. “Well, losing great talent is always [hard],” Lionel told Entertainment Tonight. “This is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation,” Richie shared. “We had to ride with what’s happening with ABC, and you know that’s where we play. So you know we wish him all the best, but that was just one of those unfortunate things that happens along the way of life.”

Luke added, “You know, we love these kids, we love every aspect of their growth and all of this, but it’s certainly devastating news when we hear about this. But like we said, our thoughts will be with him as he grows as an artist.”

Caleb Kennedy
Caleb Kennedy left the competition ahead of the semi-finals. (ABC)

Luke also told reporters, including HollywoodLife, that the situation made for a “very challenging and upsetting week,” but he wished Caleb “nothing but the best.” Lionel said, “A lot of times, we think about it, we grow up, and we make mistakes. We look at our life behind us many times and we say, ‘God, what was I thinking about when I did that?’ This was one of those situations where we kind of give him a big hug from the three of us, and he has definitely has a talent. The problem is, this is one of those unfortunate decisions that had to be made and we move on, but this will be remembered in his lifetime and he’ll know what it’s all about. As far as what we have in front of us we have three amazing contestants in front of us.”

Caleb left American Idol ahead of the season 19 semi-finals after a controversial Snapchat video from the past surfaced online. The video allegedly showed Caleb sitting next to someone wearing what looks like a Ku Klux Klan hood. Hours after the video surfaced, the 16-year-old singer announced he would no longer be competing. During the May 16 episode, host Ryan Seacrest only said Caleb would “not be continuing in the competition” even though he had made the top 5.