'American Idol' Judges React to Caleb Kennedy Leaving the Show Ahead of Top 3 Reveal (Exclusive)

The trio of judges opened up to ET about Kennedy's controversial exit and Sunday's big night.

American Idol returned on Sunday with the show's Top 4, who sang their hearts out in an effort to make it to this season's finals. The episode was supposed to feature the Top 5, but Caleb Kennedy was forced to exit the show last week when a controversial video resurfaced.

ET's Lauren Zima spoke with judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan about Sunday's big episode, and Kennedy's shocking departure.

"Well losing great talent is always [hard]... this is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation," Richie shared. "We had to ride with what's happening with ABC, and you know that's where we play. So you know we wish him all the best, but that was just one of those unfortunate things that happens along the way of life."

Kennedy, 16, announced that he would be leaving the competition after a snapchat video resurfaced -- reportedly shot when he was 12 -- showing him sitting next to someone in a white hood resembling those worn by the KKK.

The country singer apologized in a statement he shared to Instagram shortly after the three-second clip went viral on social media platforms.

"You know, we love these kids, we love every aspect of their growth and all of this, but it's certainly devastating news when we hear about this," Bryan added. "But like we said, our thoughts will be with him as he grows as an artist."

Meanwhile, with Kennedy out of the competition, Sunday's show saw Casey Bishop, Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence singing their hearts out for their shot at the Top 3. 

All the contestants were mentored by FINNEAS during the show, and each performed one of his songs. The contests also sang duets with one another, and debuted original songs. After all was said and done, Kinstler, Spence and Beckham moved on, and the Idol journey came to an end for Bishop.

"Casey is one of my favorites," Perry shared. "It's amazing seeing her growth and her potential, and her stage presence. And I think she's a real MVP."

"You know, I don't think it's the end of the road for her," she added. "She's not going to win American Idol, but I think she's going to win at life. Mark my words."

The American Idol season finale kicks off Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.



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