‘Idol’ Runner-Ups Say Show Was ‘Mean,’ Producers ‘Bullying’ Contestants

American Idol

ABC Allegra Miles

In the early days of “American Idol,” one staple of the show was airing auditions that were undeniably bad for comedic effect. Often, judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson would be seen during the auditions. Now, “American Idol” tends to only air auditions of singers who have a chance of making it onto the show.

In an interview with Insider celebrating the 20th anniversary of the “American Idol” premiere, season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez said she was glad the show stopped airing those bad auditions, calling the process “mean.”

“It’s tough because I can tell that a lot of these people are really bad, like some of them are just really bad and they just don’t know it,” she told the outlet. “And some of them are really bad and they just want to be on TV.”

The Singer Encouraged the Show to Give the Good Singers Airtime

In the interview, Sanchez shared that there were plenty of contestants who put their “blood, sweat, and tears” into becoming good musicians, so she thinks those are the people who should benefit from being on “American Idol.”

“If you’re going to have airtime, you should be pushing people that are really serious about music and that have really been dedicating their lives to it,” she shared.

The process to get in front of the judges on both “American Idol” and “The Voice” includes multiple rounds of auditions for producers, meaning that letting the “really bad,” as Sanchez called them, people through could have been simply for good television.

“I’m happy that they have done less of that,” she told the outlet.

Another runner-up, Crystal Bowersox, told Insider that she thought producers sometimes put bad auditioners through “knowing that they were just simply going to make fun of them and crush their dreams and send them home.”

“It’s bullying, and I’m glad they don’t do that anymore,” she said.

A Winner Said Winning the Show Was ‘Scary’

Taylor Hicks, who won season 5 of the show, had never really watched it before his time on it, and he didn’t know what to expect.

Hicks told Insider that his experience on “American Idol” was “special” and that the crew was able to capture his own “pure and honest reaction.”

After winning, however, his life was completely changed when the paparazzi followed him for “about two weeks” in a helicopter when he was done with the show.

“I had a bodyguard for six months, it was very intense for me,” he shared with Insider. “It’s very scary when you get let out to pasture, as I like to say.”

Hicks also recalled being in the bathroom a lot during his time on “American Idol,” but not because he had to use the restroom.

Instead, he said that he would go there to save his vocal chords because it was the “most humidified place” on the whole set.

“It was like I had a giant case of diarrhea the whole time, but actually it was just me trying to keep my voice,” Hicks told Insider.

READ NEXT: ‘American Idol’ Runner-Up Says Part of the Show Was ‘Agony’

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