Alejandro Aranda Reveals What Really Happened During ‘American Idol’ Journey

Alejandro Aranda

ABC/YouTube Alejandro Aranda on season 17 of "American Idol"

Alejandro Aranda may have looked cool as a cucumber during his performances on “American Idol,” but the gifted musician says he was often “a mess” on stage. In a collection of new Instagram posts looking back on his experience, the season 17 runner-up has revealed what was really going on during some of his most acclaimed performances on the show, which he says “changed my life forever.”

Luke Bryan Says Alejandro Aranda is the ‘Biggest Talent’ on ‘Idol’ in Last 5 Years

From the moment Aranda — also known by the stage name Scarypoolparty — asked “what’s up, homies?” as he walked into the “Idol” audition, he captured America’s attention and wowed the judges with his unique style and incredible musicianship.

Three years later, despite some difficulty hitting it big in the music industry, he still stands out as one of the best contestants. During an interview on the Full Send podcast on September 3, 2022, judge Luke Bryan was asked to name the “biggest talent” of the last five seasons.

“You know, I would say…the person that really sits with me the most as far as talent was Alejandro Aranda,” he said. “I don’t know if y’all watched it, but he’s the guy who really plays guitar. He plays guitar and piano as good as anybody in the world. And he does it in, like, a style that — he’s almost created his own genre. It’s like, savant stuff.”

On October 17, Aranda shared the video from his first audition to his Instagram feed, recalling how that moment changed everything for him.

“This Changed my life forever…Made me into a musician,” he wrote. “I feel extremely blessed for the opportunity.i also can’t believe Lional Richie gave me a hug lol … Just looking back on al the things I feel grateful for”

Alejandro Aranda Forgot the Words to Justin Bieber’s Song — But No One Noticed

Over the last couple of weeks, Aranda has shared several videos on Instagram from his journey on “Idol,” revealing new insights about his experience. On October 15, for instance, Aranda posted his Hollywood Week cover of Justin Bieber’s song “Sorry” and admitted that he forgot the words to the song.

“I remember when I played this cover on American idol,It was the first cover I ever did and I also forgot all the lyrics so I just started playing guitar lol i was a mess,” he wrote.

Usually when “Idol” constestants forget the words to a song, the judges give them a stern warning or eliminate them. But no one even noticed Aranda’s slip-up because his style is so different and showcasing his impressive guitar skills seemed like a natural part of the performance. As he played, judge Lionel Richie said, “I could watch him all day.”

Incredibly, Aranda — who worked odd jobs, including as a dishwasher, before “Idol” — had only been playing guitar for four years at the time he appeared on the show. He taught himself by listening to everything from Trent Reznor to Chopin and Bach, according to Yahoo. 

Alejandro Aranda Reveals He Felt ‘So Lost’ During Hawaii Performances

After breezing through Hollywood Week, Aranda joined the other qualifiers in Hawaii for the first performances in front of an audience. On October 8, he shared an Instagram video of when he covered Coldplay’s “Yellow” on the show.

“I remember when I was in Hawaii filming this,” he wrote. “Basically didn’t know what I was suppose to be doing in life.felt so lost and out of place … But playing music was the only thing that made me feel happy.i feel grateful to have been giving the opportunity to play music.”

It’s not uncommon for contestants to feel out of sorts throughout the process of progressing to the live shows, as they must return to their regular lives in between auditions, Hollywood Week and the week in Hawaii — and tell no one the results of their latest performances. So Aranda was in limbo, doing odd jobs and playing gigs in Southern California while waiting for the next phase of the “Idol” process.

Many Say Alejandro Aranda Changed ‘Idol’ For Good

Though Aranda says being on “American Idol” changed his life, many say that he changed the show for good. He was one of the first singer-songwriters to consistently play original music on the show, and he only played his own songs during the finale, when he came in second place behind country singer Laine Hardy.

That night, Katy Perry told him he had single-handedly changed “Idol” from sometimes feeling like a karaoke show, with contestants only performing other people’s songs, to becoming a platform for singer-songwriters.

On October 16, Aranda posted the video of him playing his piano tune “Blesser” during the show in 2019 and said that, again, he felt like a nervous wreck during that performance.

“I remember when I played my song Blesser,” he wrote in the caption. “It was the first time I ever performed it live and honestly i was so so nervous! Especially on live TV I was just telling myself ‘Don’t mess up bro’ lol … Still feel very thankful for the opportunity to play this song on American idol”

But singing his original tunes was not easy; the added stress of wondering whether people would like his personal creations on top of all the other stressors of being on the show took their toll. Four months after the show’s finale, he told Billboard that he almost left the show due to anxiety.

“There were times when I was telling the producers, ‘I want to get off the show,’ because I had such anxiety and panic attacks all the time,” he said. “A lot of people on the show were very kind, saying, ‘We’re just trying to benefit whatever you’re trying to convey.’”

Aranda was successful right out of the gate, signing a deal with Hollywood Records and performing sold-out dates on a concert tour. But that peak also gave way to some dark valleys; Aranda has been very transparent with fans about his mental health challenges, from a fear of flying to anxiety about his career, especially after his record deal ended.

In late September, fans were concerned when he canceled a tour of acoustic concerts at the last minute with little explanation. But the 28-year-old has since announced a new tour from late November through December, and an October 29 concert in his hometown of Pomona, California.

On October 14, he wrote in an Instagram post, “Feeling so stoked. I feel like things are changing in my life in a Good way. Looking forward to the future”