6. “My Call Didn’t Go Through” (Season 2)
Speaking of the phone, the phone number confusion was just one of several voting scandals surrounding AI over the years. Fans occasionally complain that their calls didn’t go through when they tried to vote for their favorite contestant, but this problem caused the biggest stir during the season two finale. After 24 million votes, Ruben Studdard beat Clay Aiken by only 130,000 votes. Clay’s fans complained that the system had been overloaded when they tried to vote for the fan favorite. They also blamed Idol’s flawed phone voting system for Clay’s loss, which is still debated today.
From shady contestants to shocking behind-the-scenes rumors, the scandals never seem end for American Idol. We’ve gathered the juiciest Idol stories that have kept viewers buzzing over the years.
12. Idol Says Au Revoir to Frenchie Over Topless Photos(Season 2)
Frenchie Davis was a fan favorite during the second season of American Idol, but the buxom singer was kicked off the show after admitting that she had posed topless for an adult website five years earlier. Frenchie claims she was trying to make money for school books and tuition when she took the sexy pics, but producers gave her the boot anyway because of morality concerns.
5. Vote for the Worst!
Over the years, contestants including ridiculed singer Sanjaya Malakar stayed on the show much longer than many viewers expected, thanks in part to a little website called VotefortheWorst.com. VFTW encourages viewers to make a mockery of American Idol by voting each week to keep the worst singers in the competition. “Vote for the Worst encourages you to have fun with American Idol and embrace its suckiness by voting for the people who the general public and the producers are rooting against,” the popular website says.
7. Phone Sex, Anyone? (Season 8)
There was another Idol “sex” scandal didn’t involve judges or contestants. It involved the viewers at home! During Season 8, fans who believed they were calling a phone number to save contestant Alexis Grace from elimination reached a phone sex hotline instead. Press one for…
8. Mario Vasquez Sexually Harasses Idol Employee and Quits The Show (Season 4)
Judges’ favorite Mario Vasquez shocked AI fans in Season 4 when he suddenly quit the show before making it to the Top 12. Mario claimed he made the decision for “family reasons.” He later admitted that the real reason he left the show was because he wanted to have creative control of his career and not be a part of the Idol machine. Still, viewers couldn’t help wondering — who in their right mind would quit American Idol? Hmm, maybe someone who was being accused of sexually harassing an Idol employee behind-the-scenes? A former production worker for the show later claimed that Mario touched him inappropriately and asked him for oral sex when they were in a bathroom together. The plot thickens.
9. Corey Clark Hooks Up with Paula Abdul (Season 2)
Two years after he was booted off the show, Corey Clark was back in the headlines when he claimed he had a sexual affair with Paula Abdul during his time on AI. Corey appeared on ABC’s Primetime Live in May 2005 and even published an e-book to tell the world that Paula coached him privately on how to succeed on the show — and that’s when they weren’t hooking up in the bedroom! Fox investigated the claims and concluded that Paula was not guilty of the accusations, even though Corey produced phone records that proved he’d had long conversations with the judge on their personal time.
10. Corey Clark Disqualified After Beating Up Sister (Season 2)
Thanks to his popularity with viewers, Corey Clark made it to the Top 9 of American Idol’s second season — and he might have made it farther if producers hadn’t discovered that he had been recently arrested for battery against his 15-year-old sister. (Not the kind of feel-good family story we’re used to hearing on Idol.) Corey was promptly disqualified for withholding the info, but it wasn’t the last we’d hear of controversial Corey...
11. Idol Keeps Antonella Barbra and Her Nude Photos(Season 6)
Frenchie Davis’s sexy photos may have gotten her kicked off the show, but Season 6’s Antonella Barbra kept her spot on AI when racy photos of the hard-partying college student surfaced online. The controversial photos of Antonella included shots of her posing naked, covered in nothing but petals. Antonella’s defense? They were private photos that had been leaked without her permission. Still, Frenchie Davis’s devoted fans sounded off against Idol, saying it wasn’t fair than Antonella was kept on the show when Frenchie was not.
3. Adam Lambert Spotted Dressed in Drag and Kissing Another Guy (Season 8)
Adam Lambert was already the breakout star of American Idol's eighth season when photos surfaced online of the star dressed in drag and kissing another man. The pics caused a stir, partly because the singer hadn't yet revealed if he was gay or straight. "You know what, I have nothing to hide. I am who I am. And this is about singing...nothing else," he told Access Hollywood at the time. Adam later came out at the end of the season.
4. Wait...You Already Had A Record Deal! (Season 7)
The whole point of American Idol is to find the country's best undiscovered talent, right? Does a singer still count as "undiscovered" if they’ve already been signed to a major record label? Are they still considered fresh talent if they've already been there and done with the whole recording thing? These questions were debated all over the internet when viewers found out that contestants Carly Smithson and Joanna Pacitti had failed record deals with big-time labels before being selected for American Idol. Despite the controversy, Carly Smithson stayed on the show until she was eliminated by viewers. Joanna Pacitti was dropped from AI before the season even started, after word got out that she was good friends with two executives associated with the show.
2. Jermaine Jones Booted From the Top 12 For Undisclosed Criminal Past (Season 11)
Dubbed the “Gentle Giant” of Season 11, fans were shocked when Jermaine was abruptly booted from the Idol Top 13 over a failure to disclose his criminal past. The singer had four outstanding warrants — three for driving with a suspended license and one for disorderly conduct with an open container — and was caught giving police a fake name on three different occasions (probably to avoid those pesky warrants). Jermaine was also accused of being “very aggressive” toward an Idol staff after arguing over his wardrobe on the show. Last we heard, the disgraced contestant is still working out his legal troubles, but he still found time to kick it with his fellow Season 11 alums when the gang stopped in Philadelphia for the American Idols Live! tour in August.
Brittany Kerr Caught Kissing Married Country Singer Jason Aldean (Season 11)
She may not have made it past the Hollywood auditions of Season 11, but Brittany made headlines in October 2012 when she was photographed kissing country star Jason Aldean at The Den bar in Hollywood, California. Jason made a formal apology to his fans on Facebook, admitting he “screwed up” by locking lips with the blonde beauty. Brittany, who said she had no idea the singer was married, issued her own official statement and called the ordeal “a lapse in judgement.”