It is impossible for such a popular singing contest like American Idol to not have encountered a scandal. Throughout its history of 20 seasons, American Idol not only has witnessed one-of-a-kind performances but some of the biggest controversies.

American Idol made its return for its 20th season earlier this year. The show is already three quarters into the final. Indeed, there is talent but also a lot of scandals over it’s time on TV. Especially after 20 years on the show.

Come and join us as we walk down memory lane looking back at American Idol’s most controversial scandals.

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5. Joanna Pacitti’s connections

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Photo by Michael Hickey/WireImage

The whole point of American Idol is to find America’s next big superstar. Without any sort of past in the music industry, amateurs who dream of becoming artists line up hoping to pass through the audition. The goal is to eventually win the contest.

This wasn’t the case for season 8 contestant, Joanna Pacitti. Indeed, she had an incredible voice and a chance to make it. However, American Idol found out the singer had been signed to a record label and released her debut album in 2006, This Crazy Life.

To make things worse, she previously joined singer American singer Nick Lachey on tour as an opening act.

Having a past affiliated with the music industry, Joanna was disqualified from the show. Therefore, she was no longer a contestant in American Idol.

“It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition,” Fox said in a statement to Billboard at the time.

4. Kris Allen’s voting controversy

American Idol Season 8 Grand Finale - Show
Photo by Kevin Winter/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for FOX

Kris Allen became a favourite on the show. But his popularity ended up becoming a scandal after freebies were given out – who some claim helped him win the competition. Or at least that’s how it looked like.

According to The New York Times, one of the show’s sponsors, AT&T, acknowledged that they were giving away free phones and messaging services to viewers. They gave these away to Kris Allen fans alongside tips on how to “power-text” during the final round of voting for the eighth season.

Once Allen was proclaimed the winner of American Idol, the company and the producer of the series stated that the results of the competition were “fair, accurate and verified”.

Kris Allen was titled “without a doubt” the winner in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in May 2009.

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3. Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s feud

Every season, American Idol brings up two very famous musicians to participate in the audition for the singing contest. Who would know better than a successful artist, right?

Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey were thought to have a good relationship after their collaboration together two years before they were selected to judge American Idol.

However, things did not look to be right between the two singers. Mariah did not engage much in the argument, but Nicki had a lot of things to say.

The two didn’t see eye-to-eye on a contestant’s performance. Yes, over a contestant. What a lucky one. Still, the feud built up over other past arguments in the show.

The row even had the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, commenting on the situation. He told The Guardian: “I think both outstanding artists are going to be able to make sure that they’re moving forward and not going backwards.”

Want to know what went down? Check out TMZ’s footage.

2. Katy Perry kissed a contestant

Katy Perry didn’t kiss a girl, but Benjamin Glaze. Truth is, he apparently didn’t like it.

During the audition of the then-19 year old, the talented singer confessed to never having kissed a girl before. In the eyes of Katy Perry, the singer went on and gave him a kiss on the cheek. But she quickly turned her head at the last moment and pecked him on the lips.

“I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately,” he told The New York Times. “I wanted my first kiss to be special.”

After Katy Perry had kissed Benjamin, the singer immediately faced backlash for her actions. Some viewers pointed out that if it genders were reversed, there would have been an outcry over the situation.

Poor Benjamin, who did not make it past the auditions after singing Nick Jonas’ Levels. The kiss must’ve really surprised him.

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1. Integrity of American Idol’s voting system questioned

In order for a singer to pass through the next stage of the contest, they also need to receive some support from the audience at home.

So, when it comes to one’s favourite, voters will do anything to get them to win.

For the past few years, the voting system in American Idol has been accused of their inaccuracy in votes despite the clear talent and favouritism of such contestants.

Broadcasting & Cable magazine wrote:

“The only people choosing the next “American Idol” are the ones lucky enough to get through — or skilled enough to get around — tremendously overtaxed phone lines.”

However, Fox re-assured that the program had “gone to great lengths” to ensure accuracy and uprightness of the voting process.

In a statement, Fox said:

“While acknowledging that dedicated fans may be unhappy with the outcome, the system only reports the decision of the voting public.”

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Ashley Bautista
Ashley Bautista

Ashley is a journalism graduate from Kingston University, currently writing for HITC, Reality Titbit and The Focus. She loves to travel and learn new languages and cultures. She also has an interest in celebrity news and the entertainment world. When she’s not writing, she’s on social media, watching K-dramas or shopping.

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