The twist saw a slew of backlash from fans from the first announcement, and when Arthur Gunn, the runner-up contestant on season 18, was announced to be the winner of the comeback round and was set to join the top 10 of season 19, some fans were even more upset and even went so far as to call the competition rigged in favor of Gunn.
The twist even caused season 18 winner, Samantha “Just Sam” Diaz to speak out about unfair rules and call for fans to vote for Willie Spence over Arthur Gunn.
“American Idol” judge Luke Bryan has now taken some time to respond to the backlash.
Bryan Realizes “American Idol” Fans Did Not Like the Comeback Idea
During his appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Bryan spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about the comeback twist.
DeGeneres told Bryan that fans were upset that the show brought season 18 contestants back to compete, and she asked why they decided to do it.
“What I’m learning about my position is, a lot of people get upset either way,” Bryan said.
He added, “These kids last year, they never got the chance to be on the big stage with all the lights and the cameras, and the, you know, the wardrobe and all that. So we brought back last year’s contestants, and, like, after they did the comeback show, I’m reading the chatter, I’m like, ‘Oh, people are not liking this!'”
Bryan Says He Felt Validated Following the Results
Because Arthur Gunn pulled off the win and earned his spot back in the competition, Bryan said that he thought the show was vindicated.
“Arthur Gunn comes back, and he was a pretty big fan-favorite last year and developed a big following, and now he’s in our top 7,” he said. “So we’re kind of validated that we brought some of them back.”
DeGeneres joked that Gunn was not taking advantage of the wardrobe offerings on the show, but that he was also super talented.
“I think us as judges, we love building these kids up… It’s not fun, these rounds, where the kids we fall in love with get sent home,” Bryan shared.
Arthur Gunn also felt good about being back on the show, though some fans noted that he looked shocked when he was voted into the top 7.
“It feels marvelous,” he said during the live show when asked how it feels to be on the stage. He was once again voted through by America, moving onto the top 7 and the chance to perform at the Coldplay celebration episode, which will air on Sunday, May 9, 2021.
Bryan recently released a new album titled “Born Here, Live Here, Die Here,” and he will be heading out on tour over the summer.
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“American Idol” airs on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.