‘American Idol’ Launches Pre-Season Voting: See the Contestants Vying for Votes

Ryan Seacrest on Idol

Getty Host Ryan Seacrest on "American Idol" in 2015

Auditions for season 21 of “American Idol” wrapped up in Nashville last week, with the show set to premiere on February 19, 2023. But in an unexpected twist, ABC has kicked off the season early, giving fans 24 hours to cast their votes for one of three top contenders who’ve already been granted a ticket to Hollywood but are now vying for a coveted Platinum Ticket. Here’s what you need to know…

How to Vote for the First Season 21 ‘American Idol’ Contestants

On November 19, 2022, “American Idol” gave fans a heads-up on social media, via an announcement by host Ryan Seacrest, that a special voting period would launch during the American Music Awards on ABC, giving viewers the chance to vote for one new contestant to receive a Platinum Ticket.

While “Idol” judges have always given their favorite contestants golden tickets to Hollywood, the show introduced Platinum Tickets during its 20th season. In each of the three cities where hopefuls tried out for celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, the star panel chose one singer to receive a Platinum Ticket. The honor not only advanced those contestants through to Hollywood Week but also allowed them to skip the first round of competition there. The three Platinum Ticket recipients were:

  • Kenedi Anderson, who left the show early, citing personal reasons
  • Jay Copeland, who made it to the Top 7
  • HunterGirl, who was the runner-up to winner Noah Thompson

It’s not clear if multiple Platinum Tickets will be given away again during season 21, but only one is being granted as part of the early voting event announced during the AMAs. In brief promos airing during the awards show, Seacrest said the show was giving fans “an exclusive look at three of this season’s top ‘Idol’ talent.”

He continued, “For the first time, it’s your vote that decides who wins America’s Platinum Ticket.”

The three contenders vying for the honor are singers Elijah McCormick, Matt Wilson, and Haven Madison. Snippets of their auditions were played during the TV promo, but one-minute excerpts from each of their auditions can be viewed via a special page on the “American Idol” site.

Per online rules, fans can only cast one vote, must be at least 16 years old, and live in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. In addition, to cast a vote you must have an ABC or Disney account, created by providing an email address. The voting window closes on Monday, November 21 at 11 pm Eastern / 8 pm Pacific.

Meet the 3 ‘American Idol’ Platinum Ticket Contenders

According to his Instagram profile, Matt Wilson is an independent artist who hails from Buffalo, New York. A few hours before he was announced as one of the Platinum Ticket contenders, he posted photos on Instagram from his audition for the judges in Las Vegas.

He wrote, “I did something WAYYY outside my comfort zone y’all! Proud to say that I’ve auditioned for Season 21 of @americanidol Thank you to my wife @meliwilson.x for pushing me and believing in me… I love you.”

Wilson has released numerous singles on his own, available via Spotify; his most recent is called “There For You.”

Haven Madison is a high school student in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to her Instagram profile, which says she’s “trying to survive High School while making music out of the creative ramblings of my restless mind.”

Madison also posted a photo of herself in front of the large “Idol” sign situated outside her audition, writing, “I may have auditioned for @katyperry @lionelrichie and @lukebryan … Maybe you’ll see me Feb 19th?!”

In mid-2022, she released a four-song EP called “All The Things I Didn’t Say.”

Elijah McCormick is an R&B singer from Southern Pines, North Carolina. He has a limited social media presence, but a powerful story. Heavy reported on McCormick on November 14, after his local newspaper revealed he’d been in Nashville for auditions in front of the “Idol” judges.

He had actually planned to audition after his high school graduation in 2019, according to the Sandhills Sentinel, but was involved in a fiery car crash and hospitalized for 79 days, and has undergone 10 surgeries. Now finally healed and performing again, he was thrilled to make it through online auditions to get to audition in front of the celebrity judges.

“American Idol” says it will announce the winner via social media in December 2022.