These Famous Musicians Were Rejected From ‘American Idol’

American Idol

ABC/Eric McCandless

ABC‘s “American Idol” has been around in different iterations for a total of 19 seasons, and the nature of the show is that more people get rejected than accepted into the program.

Just like with NBC’s “The Voice,” the list of rejected contestants includes a number of surprising entries who are now stars in the music industry.

Read on to learn about some famous musicians who were rejected by “American Idol” but went on to have successful careers.


Colbie Caillat

Colbie Caillat, a two-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter who has sold millions of albums, was originally rejected from “American Idol,” she told USA Today in 2010.

She told the outlet at the time that she auditioned for “American Idol” twice in her early career.

“I wasn’t ready for it at all,” she says. “I was shy. I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no.”


Bebe Rexha

Bebe Rexha revealed in 2018 that she actually auditioned for “American Idol” in 2008.

“10 years ago my mother and I waited 10 hours in line to audition for American Idol,” she wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t make it through. This year I’m mentoring!”

Rexha is now a Grammy award-nominated singer-songwriter. Her debut album came out in 2018 and reached number 13 on the Billboard 200 at its release.


Maren Morris

While appearing on an episode of “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” country music star Maren Morris talked about how she was rejected from more than one singing competition including “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

She also told Rolling Stone Country that she was happy she didn’t make it not the show while some people use her songs now.

“I think about all of the freaking talent shows I’ve tried out for in my life and I’m so glad I didn’t make any of them,” she said. “It’s full circle, because I was rejected from ‘The Voice.’ I was rejected from ‘American Idol’ – and I’m happier for it now.”


2 ‘Glee’ Stars

“Glee” stars Naya Rivera and Amber Riley were both rejected from “American Idol” before they moved on to sing and dance on the network.

According to Access Online, Riley had a sense of humor about being rejected from the show by producers.

“I auditioned for ‘American Idol’ at 17 and they told me ‘No,'” she said on “The Wendy Williams Show.” “I got to the producers. I didn’t get to meet anybody.”

She later added, “You know what? I still work on FOX and I get paid! Thank you, ‘American Idol.'”

Rivera had the same type of experience, she outlined on “The Talk.”


Tori Kelly Was Cut by the Judges

Though she wasn’t rejected at the time of her audition, award-winning singer-songwriter Tori Kelly was cut by the judges when she was 16 years old. She made it through to the top 24 of the competition, but she didn’t make it through to live shows.

“It was the most amazing experience,” she told Kelly Clarkson when appearing on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” according to Billboard. “I don’t regret anything and I think Simon [Cowell] is cool. No hard feelings. I actually should thank him because it all happened for a reason.”

Cowell famously called Kelly’s voice “almost annoying” during her time on “American Idol.”

READ NEXT: Every Country Star That Was Rejected by ‘The Voice’


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