‘American Idol’ briefs: Caleb Kennedy ousted over KKK image in video; top 4 power rankings; Carrie Underwood’s Vegas residency

Caleb Kennedy made the top 5 on "American Idol" May 9, 2021 but was cut after a video surfaced online with him seated next to someone with a KKK hood. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
Caleb Kennedy made the top 5 on "American Idol" May 9, 2021 but was cut after a video surfaced online with him seated next to someone with a KKK hood. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

TMZ reports that top 5 country singer Caleb Kennedy has been cut from “American Idol” after someone leaked a video that showed him sitting with someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

The news site shows only still frames of the video. It was originally posted on TikTok and lasts just a few seconds.

Kennedy, who is only 16, provided a statement on social media: “Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise. There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way.” He said he “did not think about the actions” and apologized: “I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect.”

TMZ said “Idol” will go forth with four contestants Sunday. That leaves them with more time to fill. They may bring in guest performances or perhaps have the singers perform a third song.

Over the weeks, judges praised him for his steadily improving performances and confidence on stage each week as well as his songwriting skills.

He is from the small town of Roebuck, South Carolina, not far from Spartanburg.


Caleb Kennedy, Willie Spence and eliminated Arthur Gunn during the top 5 announcements May 9, 2021. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
Caleb Kennedy, Willie Spence and eliminated Arthur Gunn during the top 5 announcements May 9, 2021. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

Kennedy’s sudden departure definitely changes the dynamics of the final two episodes.

This past Sunday’s episode, featuring music dedicated to moms and Coldplay covers, went well, with “Idol” voters ousting two somewhat controversial singers.

Arthur Gunn, the affable singer-songwriter, almost won last year and was the victor last week after competing to get back on the show during a special side episode. “Idol” producers said they wanted some of last year’s performers to get a chance to sing live, which they were not able to do so during the pandemic, instead doing recorded versions of songs from their homes.

But Gunn’s arrival and the entire premise was criticized by “Idol” hardcore fans as fundamentally unfair for the other singers because Gunn had a year to build up a fan base. The backlash, though, may have hurt him with many dedicated “Idol” voters deliberately not voting for him. The result: He was cut Sunday night.

Hunter Metts also failed to get enough votes to make it into the top five. His fans were drawn to his naked vulnerability but critics felt he was an ineffectual pretty boy with weak vocal chops and minimal stage presence. He closed out the night with a strong performance. Unfortunately for him, live coast-to-coast voting meant most votes were already tallied before he had sung his final song.

This Sunday’s episode will give each singer a chance to sing a song from an “Idol” of theirs and an original tune written just for them.

Only one person will be cut instead of two, leaving a top three for the season finale May 23.

“Idol” does not reveal vote totals, so it’s difficult to gauge popularity among the final singers to date.

Here are my power rankings, based on how I think they will finish the next two episodes.

4. Grace Kinstler (“Fix You,” “When We Were Young”) - She brings grace and power as the closest Celine Dion-esque singer left. This type of singing style has been popular over the years on “Idol” but not always enough to win it all. I don’t always feel like she’s connecting with the songs but she rarely hits a bad note. Her Adele cover Sunday was better than her Coldplay song.

3. Casey Bishop (”Paradise,” “Ironic”) - Casey has impressive range and dynamism in multiple styles of music. She is still super young and not fully defined as an artist. She sang a very difficult song in Coldplay’s “Paradise,” starting slow but picking up momentum later. Her “Ironic” was a competent cover given that her voice is not far off from that of Alanis Morissette.

2. Willie Spence (”Yellow,” “You Are So Beautiful) - The Atlanta resident is the opposite of Casey. He has one lane and he sticks with it, which means he knows what he’s comfortable with and what he can do as an artist going down the road. He embraces serious ballads and veers from pretty to inspirational, or sometimes both. His “Yellow” shined while “You Are So Beautiful” was classically soulful and spot-on Willie Spence, as opposed to a copy of the Joe Cocker version.

1. Chayce Beckham (”Magic,” “Mama”) - Chayce is the type of singer who has won many times in the past. He’s earnest. He plays a guitar. He’s good-looking. He has some grit in his voice. His Coldplay cover was a bit of a snoozer but his “Mama” original was far more bracing and emotional.



Credit: Jeremy Cowart

Carrie Underwood will do a short residency at a brand-new theater in Las Vegas later this year.

She will at The Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, with 5,000 seats.

Underwood will do six shows starting Wednesday, Dec. 1. Judge Katy Perry will do eight shows starting Wednesday, Dec. 29. Luke Bryan will do six shows starting Friday, Feb. 1.

  • Carrie Underwood (6 shows): Dec. 1, 3-4, 8, 10-11
  • Katy Perry (8 shows): Dec. 29, 31, and Jan. 1, 7-8, 12, 14-15
  • Luke Bryan (6 shows): Feb. 11-12, 16, 18, 19, 20

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