Former American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy’s EP has risen to the top of the charts after a controversial KKK-themed video forced him to leave the show. The country music singer made it all the way to the Top 5 on American Idol season 19. Throughout his journey on Idol, he covered such songs as “Midnight Rider,” “Fly Over States,” “Midnight Train to Memphis,” “On the Road Again” and “Violet Hill.” He was one of a few contestants who became known for singing his own original music every so often, including one called “Mama Said” as a dedication to his mom on Mother’s Day.
But Kennedy’s American Idol journey ended abruptly when a controversial video surfaced online showing him hanging out with a friend who wore a Ku Klux Klan hood. He then announced his exit from the show on social media, saying, “This is gonna be a bit of a surprise but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol…I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down.” It’s unclear if American Idol forced him to step down or if he quit on his own. The season 19 competition continued on without him. After Casey Bishop’s elimination, there are now just three singers vying for the title.
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Despite the controversy, Kennedy’s self-titled EP is soaring up the music charts. According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the EP reached all the way up to #2 on the country iTunes chart and #7 on the overall chart. The four-song EP was first released in March while Kennedy was still competing on American Idol, and it reached #4 on the country chart and #15 on the overall chart. Now it’s charting even higher. On iTunes, the EP is listed as being produced by CK Records. Presumably, “CK” is his initials, meaning the EP was self-released instead of being attached to a record deal. If the latter was the case, he wouldn’t have been able to release it, per American Idol‘s rules.
In theory, it seems like someone going through a controversy shouldn’t be experiencing the kind of success American Idol‘s Kennedy is receiving right now. But it actually make sense when comparing this to a somewhat similar scandal from earlier in the year. Country music singer and The Voice alum Morgan Wallen came under fire when a video surfaced of him using a racial slur, prompting his record label to suspend him and radio stations to drop his music from their rotations, among other blows to his career. But his fans stuck by him, and sales for Wallen’s music increased.
It’s unlikely that American Idol will associate itself with Kennedy going forward. But he’s not the first to have his journey on the show end abruptly this season. Wyatt Pike left American Idol for unknown personal reasons. Benson Boone decided to leave right after making it into the Top 24, but no specific reason was given. And now there’s Kennedy. Producers are likely hoping that the competition goes more smoothly with the contestants in season 20.
American Idol airs Sundays at 8pm ET/5pm PT on ABC.
Next: American Idol’s Current Age Limit For Contestants
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal
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