What was originally intended to be American Idol's Top 5 returned Sunday for a chance to make it into the season finale, but missing from the lineup was competitor Caleb Kennedy, who was forced to exit the show last week when a problematic video from his past resurfaced. In the Snapchat video, reportedly shot when he was 12, Kennedy, now 16, was seen sitting next to someone in a white hood resembling a KKK symbol.
"Well losing great talent is always [hard]... this is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation," judge Lionel Richie told Entertainment Tonight Sunday of Kennedy's exit. "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."
"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," fellow judge Luke Bryan added. "But like we said, our thoughts will be with him as he grows as an artist."
Kennedy addressed his exit from the show on Instagram after the video resurfacing, saying the video "displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way." He continued that while he was "younger" and "did not think" about those actions, it wasn't an excuse. "I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down. I'll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me," he concluded.
With Kennedy gone, Sunday's show featured Casey Bishop, Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence competing for a spot in the Top 3. At the end of the night, it was Bishop whose journey on Idol came to a close, but Perry told ET she was "a real MVP." She added, "You know, I don't think it's the end of the road for her. She's not going to win American Idol, but I think she's going to win at life. Mark my words." American Idol's season finale airs Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Watch live or catch up on the season on Hulu.