American Idol' shocker: Kenedi Anderson, frontrunner who won platinum ticket, quits show
Written by: Charles Trepany, USA TODAY
The competition on "American Idol" just got a whole lot wider, with frontrunner Kenedi Anderson's shocking withdrawal from the competition.
The show's longtime host Ryan Seacrest announced the news in a clip inserted into Monday's episode after the 17-year-old high schooler's performance of "Human" by Christina Perri, which brought judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan to a standing ovation.
"You might have noticed that there was no voting information during Kenedi’s performance just now," Seacrest said while sitting at a table. "Since we taped these shows in Hawaii earlier, Kenedi has decided to withdraw from our show for personal reasons."
He added: "We send her well wishes, and needless to say, we have incredible talent on this historic season, with more iconic ‘Idol’ performances coming up for you right now."
Anderson has been a favorite to win since she auditioned with a soulful rendition of Lady Gaga's "Applause" that inspired the judges to award her one of three platinum tickets, sending her not only to Hollywood Week, but also past the first round of cuts.
"You might be the biggest star we've ever seen," Bryan told Anderson after her audition, which has garnered over 4.9 million views on YouTube. "I truly believe your musical journey for the rest of your life just started right here."
During Hollywood Week, Anderson followed up with more impressive performances, singing Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" with fellow contestant Jordan Chase for the duet round and Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon" for the showstoppers round.
On Monday, Anderson sang at Aulani, a Disney resort and spa in Hawaii, to a live audience as part of a lineup of 12 contestants from the top 24. (The other 12 sang on Sunday's episode.)
Here's what else went down during the episode, which also saw pop star Bebe Rexha stop by to offer wisdom and mentorship.
Cadence Baker sure can sing. But something she's struggled with has been confidence.
"The judges told me I looked very fearful on stage, and that was one of the things I needed to work on," Baker said.
Rexha encouraged her to break down her mental barriers by offering choreography and other tips on how to work a stage. "We’re seeing 80% of Cadence, and I want to see 100% of Cadence," she said.
And Baker showed she could come out of her shell, singing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James.
"Your audition really, really set you up to go far in this competition," Bryan said. "That performance lived up to your original audition."
If you want "American Idol" to keep a hold of Baker, text 13 to 21523.
Sir Blayke said he was seeking romantic closure by choosing to sing the song "Breakeven" by The Script.
Rexha commended his "beautiful soul" and told him to "fight on stage" with his performance.
Perry said the singer brought a "totally different vibe" — and she liked it.
Richie added that Sir Blayke let the audience feel what he was feeling.
"I don’t care whether you’re having the roughest day of your life or the happiest day of your life, bring that emotion to the stage," he said.
Text 14 to 21523 if you're not ready to break up with Sir Blayke's time on "Idol."
Allegra Miles put her own spin on Harry Styles' "Adore You," singing a slower, jazzier version.
Though Miles has usually performed while playing an instrument, this time she took the stage with just a microphone in hand, working the crowd as much as possible.
"That was definitely not the girl that sat behind the piano," Rexha told Miles afterward. "You killed that."
To see Miles keep killing it, text 15 to 21523.
Lady K had a dilemma heading into her top 24 performance — should she sing "Collard Greens & Cornbread" by Season 3 "Idol" winner Fantasia or "Before He Cheats" by Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood?
"You should keep it a secret and surprise me," Rexha advised her.
Lady K went with the Underwood classic, showing off a raspier, edgier part of her voice.
Richie applauded Lady K on how far she's come. On the show, the contestant has been open about her past experiences with homelessness.
"This is from homeless to Hawaii," he said. "It’s for you. It’s all about you. God bless you."
Text 16 to 21523 to keep Lady K in the competition.
Ava Maybee took a big risk by choosing to sing "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus & Chaka Khan.
But the singer said she was inspired to choose it after a vivid dream.
"I randomly had a dream that I was gonna sing a Chaka Khan song on 'American Idol,' " she told Rexha.
Richie said Maybee took the classic and made it her own. "That was pretty risky, but you took care of business," he said.
If you're a yes for Maybee, text 17 to 21523.
Before his performance of "Blue Side of the Mountain" by The SteelDrivers, Thompson told Rexha he was singing the song for his 9-month-old son.
Perry applauded the country crooner for "staying true to your roots," while Richie encouraged him to not let shyness shut him down.
"Keep following your heart and just keep being the country boy that’s standing right there," Bryan told him.
Text 18 to 21523 to drive Thompson to the next round.
Leah Marlene has become known for her creative, unique arrangements of hit pop songs.
And she didn't disappoint Monday, with a soulful arrangement of "Call Me" by Blondie.
Marlene also took Rexha's advice to really go for the high note at the song's climax — and if she cracks with emotion on it, all the better.
"You’re in a lane all by yourself," Richie told Marlene. "It’s endless where you can go."
Bryan and Perry also loved the performance, but were at odds on Marlene's vocal strategy moving forward. "You didn’t have me right off the bat," Bryan said, advising her to hit big notes early in her songs to grab listeners.
"I disagree," Perry rebutted. "She needed somewhere to go.”
Bryan said Marlene's big notes at the end changed his mind. "You started hitting notes that I was like, ‘Oh my god. You totally won me over yet again,' " he said.
If Marlene won you over too, text 19 to 21523.
After some encouragement from Rexha regarding his nerves, Christian Guardino delivered a smooth performance of "Leave the Door Open" by Silk Sonic.
"You see him, and then you hear him, and it’s two different people," Richie said. "God has given you an amazing gift. Enjoy this ride, my friend."
Perry said that Guardino becomes "a superhero" on stage.
"You start singing and you can fly," she added.
To fly Guardino into the next round, text 21 to 21523.
Though Katyrah Love said her religious family "would have preferred" she stick to singing gospel or classical music, she added that they're starting to get on board with her branching out into pop and other genres on "Idol."
She sang The Jacksons' "Blame It on the Bougie," after Rexha encouraged her to lower the key to give her more confidence.
Love's parents seemed supportive in the audience, grooving along to their daughter's vocals.
“I want you to bring mom and dad everywhere because you were performing," Richie said.
"Everything felt natural, and it was a great, great job," Bryan added.
If you're in love with Katyrah Love's voice, text 22 to 21523.
Closing out the episode was Fritz Hager, who has regularly impressed the judges with his soulful, folksy sound.
Like other contestants, Hager confessed to Rexha that his nerves are his biggest obstacle.
The pop star said she can relate.
"I can tell when you were playing you got kind of scared for a second," she said. "I have the same thing. I get so nervous. I have such bad nerves. ... Getting that first note is just so important because I feel like if I get that first note, everything is good.”
Hager gave a performance of "Waves" by Dean Lewis that offered "different depths" to his artistry, Bryan said.
"What you just gave us I thought was so spectacular," Perry added, comparing the former security officer to Kings of Leon and Mumford & Sons. "You are really truly an artist, and I think you believe it now."
"You gave us attitude on top of attitude," Richie said. "Give us more of that, Fritz”
Text 23 to 21523 to keep Hager hanging on in the competition.
1 of 15 Photos in Gallery©LUCY NICHOLSON, AP "American Idol" has had its share of winners, first for 15 seasons on Fox and now on ABC. We look back at each season's champion. Kelly Clarkson was the first-ever winner, beating out Justin Guarini for the title. Clarkson has gone on to have a successful musical career, winning multiple Grammys.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'American Idol' shocker: Kenedi Anderson, frontrunner who won platinum ticket, quits show