‘American Idol’ Star Changes Name: ‘I’m Closing That Chapter’

American Idol

Heavy/ABC "American Idol" judge calls Alejandro Aranda one of the most gifted musicians in the world.

It’s been over four years since musician Alejandro Aranda stunned the “American Idol” judges and enchanted the nation with his unique musical skills and gentle voice under the stage name Scarypoolparty. The former dishwasher skyrocketed to fame and was named the runner-up on season 17, behind teen country singer Laine Hardy.

“He plays guitar and piano as good as anybody in the world,” judge Luke Bryan said on the “Full Send” podcast in September 2022, when he named Aranda his favorite past “Idol” contestant. “And he does it in, like, a style that — he’s almost created his own genre. It’s, like, savant stuff.”

Navigating Aranda’s career after “Idol” has not been easy, though. Despite success with music releases after being on the show, he’s also experienced lots of lows, including struggles with severe anxiety. Aranda announced on June 26, 2023, he was dropping his stage name and stepping into a “new chapter” of his career and life. Here’s what you need to know:

Fans React as Alejandro Aranda Announces Career Shift

Aranda adopted the stage name Scarypoolparty when he began playing and posting videos of his unique blend of electronic and classical music on guitar and piano, the result of practicing for several hours a day, he told Now This Entertainment, after his dishwashing job in Pomona, California.

Before playing one of his first gigs, he told MTV in 2019, he chose the stage name as a joke and it stuck.

“I didn’t want to go by my own name because I feel like that’s stupid as f***,” Aranda said. “I was like, let me make an even dumber name, so I was at a [pool] party and I was like, all right, I’m Scarypoolparty.”

But after six years of performing under the stage name, including on “American Idol,” Aranda has decided to shift to his birth name as he relaunches his career. On June 26, Aranda posted an Instagram video showing highlights from his career thus far and announcing that he will debut a new single, “Pieces,” on July 14.

“The last six years have been a dream,” he wrote over the video. “Scarypoolparty was a fun and amazing time. But I’m officially closing that chapter of my career. But I’m so excited for this new chapter. ‘Cause now I going by my real name as an artist. Alejandro Aranda.”

Many of Aranda’s longtime fans noted the significance of this decision in their heartfelt comments, celebrating that he is stepping into and honoring who he is and what he’s truly passionate about.

One fan wrote, “A lot of people don’t realize how big this actually is for you. You’ve accepted who you are, not only as an artist, but as a person in general. So excited to hear what’s in store. Legit one of my favorite artists ever!!”

Another wrote, “I don’t know if you realize the energy your soul exudes. That is in part what makes you true magic. There is an authenticity in you that you didn’t allow anyone or anything to crush. It seemed there was a part of you that you weren’t willing to let go of, a part of you that you didn’t want the world to see, a part of you that you feared. The first time the world saw you, you were an explosion and in its aftermath you pulled back the magnitude of that fire. Since then you have slowly started allowing your flame to increase in visibility and burn… and here it is … in full force. Ignited in your bright blue light. The world is ready. 🔥💙”

Season 21 finalist Oliver Steele commented, “Welcome home, brother. We’re all here excited to see what you give to the world next ❤️”

Alejandro Aranda Almost Quit Making Music in 2022

Alejandro Aranda / Scarypoolparty

GettyAlejandro Aranda, formerly known as Scarypoolparty, performing in Nashville in 2021

Following his journey on “American Idol,” Aranda’s first studio album, “Exit Form,” was released in November 2019. The album peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. charts. He also released the 21-track “The Act of Forgiveness” in August 2021. When he performed one of its tracks, “The Darkness,” on “American Idol” in April, the album shot to No. 2 on the iTunes Alternative Music chart.

Though he’s grown a loyal following, he considered quitting music in 2022, he said, because his music is so different that he’s sometimes found it so difficult to carve out a niche and find an audience.

In a since-deleted, middle-of-the-night tweet on September 15,  Aranda wrote, “Sometimes I feel like my opportunity to be a full time musician/artist is fading. maybe it’s time to rethink the music career. Might go to culinary school Or try to open up a coffee shop! Who knows!! Legit just having late night thoughts.”

Aranda’s struggles with anxiety have made touring and promoting his music especially challenging at times.

In April 2022, in a since-deleted Instagram post, he wrote, “Been super stressed out lately And my anxiety has been really taking control of my mental health. But trying hard to keep it together And keeping a healthy outlook on everything. Sending only positive vibes.”

Days after that post, he went on to play at the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta and thanked fans for showing him love when he expressed how low he’d been feeling.

Aranda wrote, “I lost feeling In my legs. Had about 7 panic attacks. Cried a lot…But I got on the plane And I made it to Atlanta. Feeling grateful for all the homies who sent such kind messages and love.”

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