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Kenedi Anderson and 9 other American Idol contestants who left the show early

Kenedi Anderson on American Idol
Kenedi Anderson on American Idol. Pic credit: ABC

In a shocking move, American Idol frontrunner Kenedi Anderson quit the show after making it to the top 24 round.

American Idol played out her final performance before announcing that she had quit the show and would not continue.

This shocked fans of American Idol, although many speculated on why she had left the show.

However, while this was a surprising move and shook up the competition, it was not something that hasn’t happened before.

In fact, there have been several people who left the show, either quitting on their own or being forced to quit after things arose about their past.

Here is a look at the 10 most prominent moments when someone quit American Idol early.

Kenedi Anderson (Season 20)

Kenedi Anderson is the American Idol contestant on everyone’s mind right now.

She came onto the show as a TikTok sensation and blew the judges away. Even Katy Perry was astonished at her range.

She won the Platinum Ticket (a new gimmick that allowed three people to move on without competing in the Genre Challenge).

She made it to the top 24 and blew everyone else away. However, she then quit the show and never moved on from there.

While the wording was that it was a “personal decision,” it might have been more of a professional decision. Kenedi released a clip of a new song on TikTok that hinted at wanting something with no strings attached.

That sounds like the exact reason she quit American Idol – there is likely a contract out there without the strings that come from an Idol deal.

Frenchie Davis (Season 2)

The first person to leave American Idol early was Frenchie Davis in Season 2.

Frenchie didn’t leave on her own and she was disqualified and kicked off the reality series. Her crime was admitting to taking topless photos early in her career.

What hurts the show was that, in Season 6, Antonella Barba was allowed to remain despite the same infraction.

Luckily, it didn’t hurt Frenchie’s career, as she was cast in Rent on Broadway after American Idol kicked her off the show and she was a cast member of that production for four years.

Frenchie moved on to The Voice and made it on Team Christina, reaching the Top 8.

Corey Clark (Season 2)

The same season that American Idol disqualified Frenchie Davis, it also kicked Corey Clark off the show.

Corey’s disqualification was worse. He made it all the way to the top 10 and was one of the top singers of the season, but when producers heard he had been arrested the year before, they kicked him off the show.

The charges were misdemeanors, and he pleaded no contest, but it was enough for American Idol to disqualify him for not revealing to them his arrest record.

Corey made a bigger mess after this when he claimed he had a sexual relationship with judge Paula Abdul, something she denied ever happened.

Mario Vazquez (Season 4)

The next person to quit American Idol was Mario Vazquez.

While the first two people leaving were kicked off for various reasons, Mario left the show after making the top 12 in Season 4 for professional reasons.

When Kelly Clarkson won on American Idol, she was locked in for a seven-album deal and it took her over a decade to get out from the contract.

Mario didn’t allow that to happen.

In an interview, Mario said he had record labels approaching him and he didn’t want to risk a deal by winning American Idol. So he quit, and went on to release an album that “sounds exactly how I wanted.”

However, that was his only album, despite it reaching 80th on the Billboard charts.

Jermaine Jones (Season 11)

In Season 11, American Idol disqualified another singer.

This time it was Jermaine Jones, who had outstanding arrest warrants in his home state of New Jersey. American idol said he conceived the arrests from them, warranting the disqualification.

Jermaine had reached the top 10 before his disqualification.

“I was and continue to be appreciative of the opportunity to perform as a Top 10 contestant during Season 11 of ‘American Idol,’ which was once considered the world’s biggest stage for up-and-coming recording artists,” he said after the fact.

“And I wanted to believe that my humiliating public disqualification in March 2012 was just part of the show and an experience that could be internalized and ultimately forgotten.”

However, he ended up taking part in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed in 2013 by 10 Black former contestants. The case never went forward due to the statute of limitations.

Tiquila Wilson (Season 13)

In Season 13, Tiquila Wilson quit American Idol.

She had a more personal reason for quitting the show. She wasn’t forced to leave and she didn’t quit for a better record deal.

She said in an interview that she left because she felt that the show was not in line with her relationship with God.

“I’m a church baby. All I know is gospel music,” Tiquila said. “And then too, a lot of people might not understand my decision, but I had a little talk with my God and He assured me that everything would be all right.”

Tiquila disappeared from the public eye after leaving American Idol.

Nick Merico (Season 17)

In Season 17, American Idol had moved to ABC and three new judges were going strong – Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie.

These judges were kinder and more considerate with the singers, but it still didn’t work out with some of the contestants.

That season, Nick Merico quit American Idol after making it to Hollywood Week.

According to Nick, he had to leave the show because of family issues. He didn’t explain what happened but said it forced him to go home.

Nick returned in Season 18 and was eliminated in the top 20 round. He came back again a third time in Season 19 and was knocked out after making it to the top 10.

Benson Boone (Season 19)

Season 19 was a tough one for American Idol as three people went home early.

The one with the least publicity was Benson Boone. He left an Instagram message saying it was a hard decision to make.

However, he later claimed that he had a big reason to leave.

In a press release for his first single after American Idol, it read that he quit the show because he wanted to connect with fans authentically.

“It was a very hard choice,” Benson said in the release. “I didn’t really know who I wanted to be as an artist yet, and I didn’t want to show the world someone I’m not.”

Wyatt Pike (Season 19)

Wyatt Pike is someone who abruptly quit American Idol in Season 19 right before the top 12 reveal.

Just like Kenedi Anderson, Wyatt said he was leaving for personal reasons, but he was thankful that he has a chance to play music for there’s of his life.

He finally revealed why he left in 2022.

“Regarding my departure, the bottom line is that reality, competitive music on TV is not my thing. It became too much. The stress and the behind-the-scenes pressure and things that had to happen,” Wyatt said.

Caleb Kennedy (Season 19)

Caleb Kennedy is a sad story.

The third person eliminated in Season 19 was a frontrunner to win it all, but he ended up disqualified.

He left the show after old pictures of him wearing a Ku Klux Klan-styled mask surfaced online. The backlash was intense and he left despite moving all the way past the Top 7.

It seems that Caleb was not able to move on well after this disqualification. In February 2022, Caleb was charged with DUI after being involved in a car accident that left one person dead.

American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

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