Top 5 Results Divide ‘American Idol’ Fans: ‘Simon Cowell Wouldn’t Stand For This’

Julia Gagnon, McKenna Faith Breinholt, Emmy Russell

Heavy/ABC Julia Gagnon, McKenna Faith Breinholt, and Emmy Russell await the "American Idol" Top 5 results on May 5, 2024

As soon as Ryan Seacrest read the results of nearly 19 million votes cast on May 5, 2024, determining the “American Idol” top 5 for season 22, social media exploded with viewers’ reactions, with many fans up in arms over the outcome and others irritated with the judges’ feedback.

The final five contestants, who will soon head to Disney World in Orlando to prepare for the show’s annual “Disney Week,” are Abi Carter, Triston Harper, Emmy Russell, Jack Blocker, and Will Moseley.

That means Julia Gagnon, who received a platinum ticket from the judges after her initial audition, and McKenna Faith Breinholt, saved from elimination by judge Katy Perry the previous week, were sent home.

Many viewers were stunned and angry after the May 5 show, blaming voters and the judges for the results. But others stood up for those who made it through, especially Russell, who has received the lion’s share of pushback in recent weeks.

Fans Divided Online Over Top 5 Results for Season 22

McKenna Faith Breinholt, Julia Gagnon, Emmy Russell

ABCMcKenna Faith Breinholt and Julia Gagnon embrace Emmy Russell after she makes the Top 5 on “American Idol” season 22

Gagnon, a 21-year-old college student and powerhouse singer from Maine, and Breinholt, a 25-year-old husky-voiced singer from Arizona, awaited the final voting alongside Emmy Russell, a shy singer-songwriter from Nashville whose grandma was the late country icon Loretta Lynn.

Seeing Russell advance to the Top 5 rather than Gagnon or Breinholt had many fans up in arms. Some viewers have complained that Russell has an unfair advantage because of her grandma’s fan base, and others thought she didn’t fulfill the objective of the May 5 show, staying seated at her piano during her “song that makes me wanna dance” due to nerves. Viewers upset by the results did not mince words on social media.

One person tweeted, “Sorry, but the fact that Emmy Russell made it into the final 5 is based on who she is related to, imo. She’s talented, but not American Idol level & Tristan needs to come back next year instead of this year (come on 15 ?). McKenna & Julia should be there instead. #AmericanIdol”

“I legit can’t imagine American brains voting on #Idol #AmericanIdol,” another tweeted. “that (top) 5.. is so very wrong.. the last two weeks have had superior vocalist and star powers leave.. including tonight.. there’s two in there that were so below par and still got in.. 2/5 deserve to be there.” 

A couple of hours after the show ended, “American Idol” posted a video of the top 5 wearing Mickey Mouse ears, excited to head to Disney World. Within minutes, the post was flooded with comments from disappointed fans.

“Seeing idol post something without McKenna in it feels so wrong 😭,” one wrote, and another declared that they’re “not watching anymore.”

But Gagnon has been very vocal in recent days about how out of hand social media comments have become, pleading with fans not to put down her fellow contestants. In one post, she said she’s seen tons of hateful comments about herself and knows her fellow finalists are receiving the same kind of negativity.

Russell, who’s received a great deal of hate online, received support from fans who stuck up for her on social media after the show.

“Everyone that is hating on Emmy needs to get a life,” wrote one on Instagram. “I don’t care if you don’t like her or not. She deserves this just as much as everyone else on this show. You guys act like it’s the end of the world but did you vote? Prob not. So if you didn’t then you have no room to complain. She is a HUMAN with FEELINGS and she sees the hateful crap that you guys write.”

“I voted for Emmy Russell,” someone else tweeted. “I love her voice and how she styles a song. Apparently a lot of other people agree and chose to vote as I did, I actually threw some votes Jack Blocker’s way, too. I honestly wish Kayko was still on show, but I’m not going to trash others. Stay positive.”

‘American Idol’ Viewers Concerned About Judges’ Lack of Constructive Feedback

Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie

ABCLuke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie give their feedback to Julia Gagnon on May 5, 2024

Another point of contention among viewers on social media has been about the influence judges Perry, Richie and Bryan have on viewers and whether they’re being critical enough — or at all — of each contestant. The May 5 show in particular had some fans upset, since the judges complimented every contestant and every performance.

Some viewers even called for a return of Simon Cowell, the original “Idol” judge whose no-holds-barred critiques were so harsh he’s since apologized to past contestants, including Jennifer Hudson. Still, some fans say the current judges’ delight over each contestant hasn’t helped viewers be discerning about who should advance in the competition.

“Simon Cowell wouldn’t stand for this,” one viewer tweeted, recalling the original “Idol” judge’s typically harsh critiques of contestants’ performances.

These judges are so fake forreal, another viewer tweeted. “GIVE CRITIQUES. Tell them they chose the wrong song, missed important notes, were BORING. THEY WEREN’T ALL GOOD. #AmericanIdol”

Someone else tweeted, “Are the judges not allowed to tell the truth anymore @AmericanIdol what are you doing???”

The judges are well aware that fans don’t always agree with their decisions or critiques, but have said they’re more concerned with inspiring and uplifting contestants during what can be a really difficult journey than bringing them down for small things.

“Sometimes we catch a little flak online about sending someone home,” Bryan told Billboard in February. “The fans speak out against our decisions. They don’t necessarily know where we’re coming from in that mental process. If we have the opportunity to really change somebody’s life, it’s worth us doing it and changing their life no matter what we may catch on the back end.”