Fans Shocked By ‘American Idol’ Star’s Appearance for New Album Release

Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson

ABC/YouTube Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson perform on the "American Idol" reunion show in May 2022

Country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson took an unconventional approach to launch his new album — by showing up online covered in fake blood. The runner-up on season 16 of “American Idol” surprised fans with the album release, but the bigger shock was how he did it: by also releasing his own horror film, which he said is something he’s always wanted to do.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson Explains His New Album & Slasher Film

Just in time for Halloween, Hutchinson began teasing a surprise project in late October with images of him covered in blood. Many fans expressed their excitement, but some said they couldn’t handle his blood — which he said was ketchup — all over his head and shirt.

“Imma scaredy cat and these pics are messing with my head,” one fan wrote.

Another commented, “Yikes..there goes that sweet, naive persona from AI lol”

On October 28, 2022, he dropped a new six-song EP, called “Songs I’ll Never Play Again,” saying he was the “most excited and nervous” he’d ever been for a project release. Part of his anxiousness was due to the unconventional way he’s promoting the music.

Instead of releasing a music video for one song on the EP like artists usually do, Hutchinson opted to write and act in a nearly 17-minute short film with all six songs serving as the soundtrack for its dark and violent premise.

“This is the most excited and nervous I have ever been to release a project but I am so excited to share it with you all,” he wrote. “I’ve always loved the horror movie genre, and if you know me, you’ve heard me rant about my favorite show, ‘Dexter.'”

He continued, “I’d like to think the music on this project is haunting, melancholy, and very Halloween feeling overall. So I hope that the music and video excite people who are fans of those things like I am. Thanks for staying behind me all these years and I’m excited for the next chapter.”

In a release about the project, Hutchinson said the idea began in 2020 when he wrote a song called “Preservation,” which is included on the album, because it felt like the “old school country/bluegrass murder ballads” he’d heard and liked as a child.

“It felt like fall, trees dying, seasonal depression already on its way,” he said. “The idea then became to make the whole project sound that way. Sort of nostalgic and eery, very much reflective of Halloween time.”

Caleb Lee Hutchinson Shares a Disclaimer Before Short Film

At the beginning of the short film, which co-stars Nashville yoga instructor Alyssa Mocci playing Hutchinson’s girlfriend who gets murdered in the film, the star gives fans a warning about the content of the video, given that they’re used to his sarcastic, dry sense of humor.

Covered in blood and smiling, Hutchinson said, “As you might notice from this first little glimpse, this is gonna be a different type of video. This may not be exactly what you know me for. So if you are the type of person who has issues with blood scenes featuring violence and/or gore, I highly recommend that you use your discretion.”

“Kids probably shouldn’t watch this,” he added, and then joked, “Ask your parents first. If you’ve got bad parents, they’ll let you watch it.”

“But this whole video is a take on classic slasher films and horror movies,” Hutchinson continued. “This EP that we’re dropping is full of spooky and sad songs. So I had the dream of making my own little scary movie type of thing. So, with that in mind, if you choose to watch it, I hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t, please keep it to yourself, I’m very sensitive. I love you and thank you for watching.”

Though it’s a totally different direction for the country singer, who has been dating “Idol” winner Maddie Poppe since they met on the show in 2018, fans and friends seem to be loving the departure.

Popular YouTuber Shane Dawson, who has 19.5 million subscribers on the platform, commented on the film, writing, “So proud of u man!!! Amazing!!!”

One fan wrote, “I LOVE the video!!! So cool how the songs tell the story. Your acting is great! You never disappoint! Thanks for finally releasing Devil Woman and Hold On To You! I’m absolutely hooked on the new songs as well! You nailed it!”

Another person commented, “You continue to amaze me, my friend. This was great. And the new album is killer (no pun intended). Love ya dude”

Hutchinson is hosting a release party for the album on Halloween night at the Bobby Sidlehour Tavern in Nashville from 6-8 pm. The album is available via all major streaming platforms.

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