American Idol: 15 Singers Robbed by Voters

Outrage over inexplicable voting results is almost as important to the American Idol experience as witnessing the crowning of the latest incarnation of Carrie Underwood or David Cook.

But while early ejectees like Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry at least had a couple months of airtime to make an impression on the general public (and build impressive post-show careers), it’s a much harder struggle for talented vocalists who — for one reason or another — don’t make it past the semifinals.

RELATED | American Idol Vegas Round (Part 2) Recap: Men of a Certain Range

With the Season 12 voting rounds just around the corner, we figured it was a good time to celebrate the ones that got away (but never lost their spots in our hearts). So click through the gallery below for our list of 15 Singers Who Got Robbed by Idol Voters, then hit the comments and tell us who we missed, who we overhyped and which ones we got exactly right. And for all my Idol news, interviews, recaps and photo galleries, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Laquisha says:

    Agree about Kristen. I remember she was really good.

  2. Olivia says:

    Definitely Brandon Rogers.

  3. JB says:

    Pretty good list.they should have saved Epperly.I think she would have gone very far if they did.

  4. JON says:

    On the nose on every one. The only one who I didn’t remember at first was Feliicia Barton. (Although I did remember her after I read what was written about her). Which goes to show that all of them made an impact on me too.

  5. JON says:

    Katelyn Epperly and Lilly Scott. Totally agree. It was unlucky for them that year, Crystal Bowersox was there, so they already had a “quirky” girl. I remember Lily’s very shocked reaction when she got booted. She was like, “I don’t know what they want.” Haha.

    Sabrina Sloan and Asia Epperson. Gosh, it’s either I’ve been reading your recaps for so long now or we have the same brain.

    You totally nailed this one.

  6. Patrick says:

    Alex Lambert, Season 9, i agree, got snubbed for some really disappointing contestants. This kid can sing anything, from country to pop to hip hop and he is so so soulful. What a shame he did go not go any further on idol.

    • JudyVee says:

      So agree. Alex Lambert is wonderful – love his voice, the choices he makes, everything. Somebody needs to sign this kid!!! I was heartbroken when he got booted.

  7. JON says:

    Jesse Langseth sang Bette Davis Eyes. Such a cool song choice. I still remember her.

    And Ricky Braddy, all I remember is he was wearing some really tight jeans.

  8. Ann W. says:

    I would put Hadas (S02) and Suzy Vulaca in this list.

  9. Marta says:

    I’ve thought about Robbie “What Could Have Been” Rosen everytime seminfinal time rolls around now. He was such a likeable and talented kid- and I rarely get behind rooting for teens.

    A few other names: Ju’not Joyner, and to add another name to the Season 9 bloodshed, Toddrick Hall. Having followed Toddrick’s career now on YouTube, I think of how great he could have been on Idol. My heart still won’t keep me from believing a current, relevant R&B star could emerge from Idol.

    • LOLOLOL says:

      Toddrick was not robbed. He was booted correctly after a really affected and just plain bad performance of Since U Been Gone.

      • Marta says:

        Oh no doubt that Since u Been Gone was indulgent rubbish- but on that fateful Top 16 bloodshed week, he did a pretty convincing (yet still dramatic) Somebody to Love that the judges praised. So his elimination felt like a bummer (albeit a lesser version) along with Lily, Katelyn, and Alex. Man- beyond my hometown girl Crystal- that was a rough rough season. Here’s to hoping there aren’t a lot of injustices this semifinals!

        • LOLOLOL says:

          I heard Toddrick did back up vocals for The X Factor last season. Never noticed him though.

          That season was weird. There were a lot of good contestants that got eliminated before the top 12. Usually, there’s only one. There were at least 3 that season.

          Plus, the top 12 never became great. Usually, there’s one or two who become “stars” over the course of the competition. (Like Haley Reinhart). Most of them plateaued. Crystal should have won but I don’t think she had a better performance after her solo performance during Hollywood rounds.

  10. Tells you a lot that there are so many ladies that were robbed. The system of American Idol has been off, and it’s been off for many many years. The fact that they continue to let people like Charlie Askew and Paul Jolley get to the Top 20, while Isabelle and Shubha Vedula get eliminated baffles me.

    • noa says:

      the weird thing is that they changed the rules so that the finales have an equal # of guys and girls because in S3 there were twice as many women (8 to 4 men). but since then i guess everything changed…

      • Timmah says:

        They desperately need to change the rules back so that the most deserving 12 get in the finals, not necessarily 6 men and 6 women. That way you’d have a lot fewer of these women being robbed.

  11. Jake says:

    Instead of Aloha Mischeaux, Kristen McNamara, Robbie Rosen, and Mishavonna Henson, my list would probably include Alexandréa Lushington (Season 7), Alaina Whitaker (Season 7), Janell Wheeler (Season 9), and Jen Hirsh (Season 11).

    (I also had a massive crush on Season 7’s Kady Malloy, but her live semifinal performances were too terrible to consider her a legitimate “snub.” Even though I own two of those three iTunes recordings… Season 5’s Stevie Scott also has a brilliant voice but had a poor first performance and was cut without a second thought- her EP is pretty great.)

    I’m so glad in particular to see Ricky Braddy, Jesse Langseth and Alex Lambert on the list. All three were disappointing cuts.

    • Trouty Mouth says:

      Jen Hirsch was unfortunately the victim of a “One And Only”-off that she was never going to win. I agree with Alexandrea though.

      • Evan says:

        I thought Elise Testone was awesome too- it was just a shame they both couldn’t have gone through (although the same song choice was clearly the producers’ ploy for drama).

    • ben says:

      I agree with Alexandrea, Alaina, Janell and Jen completely. Although I wouldn’t drop Robbie or Mishavonna, who remain for me possibly the top 2 who missed the finals ever (Alexandrea might jump in). Lilly Scott is definitely one who belongs too.

      Aloha is easily the oddest pick on this list, an dI find Kirsten unmemorable. Personally, I remain very glad that Katelyn Epperly went when she did, I felt she lacked any kind of connection at all. And I never really got the like of Ricky Braddy either. Those are the four I’d probably drop instead.

    • Timmah says:

      I too loved Kady Malloy. She had a great initial audition, but then like you said she cracked a bit under the pressure of the live shows.

      Then there was Sundance Head…

    • John says:

      Glad you mentioned Stevie Scott. Great pop-opera voice that I wanted to hear more from!

  12. Princess Adora says:

    *sigh* season 9, the season that could’ve been. I don’t disagree with any of your choices, I just want to highlight how much I agree with Lilly and Katelyn being on this list, and I’d like to add Didi, she was gone too soon. I really liked Kristen in season 8 too, it’s nice to see her get some recognition.

  13. Lauren says:

    Awwww so many great singers that should have been in the finals!! Thank you Michael for always remembering them and their talent in posts from time to time. We fans greatly appreciate it.
    Still, to this day, can’t get over Alex Lambert and his gorgeous rich tone and oh his rasp.<3
    ***Sighhhh*** if only Alex stuck to his guns and performed Mario's "Let Me Love You" instead of going with the advice of the dreaded producers (Lamontagne's "Trouble"). The young girls would have swooned, which would have turned into more votes.
    ***Another sighhhh*** Alex could have made it into the finals and gone on the Idol tour giving him the stage experience he so needed.
    D*mn Ellen for giving Tim Urban a hug that night because he did an okay job with "Hallelujah". D*mn her. Three years later and I'm still not over it! :/

  14. Lauren says:

    Seems like there should be an American Idol – Second Chances season featuring all these folks, hosted by Brian Dunkelman.

    • Harmony says:

      Yes! XD

    • John says:

      I’ve always thought the same thing – allow any semi finalist who did not make the finals come back and compete against the others for a second chance season. I’d watch that over another X factor season any day. Give these promising artists another chance on the idol stage with no age limit since some of them are well into their 30s now. Common Nigel -just do it!

  15. Thank God somebody else remembers Lisa Leuschner. That irks me to this day. I still watch Sweet Thing on Youtube from time to time. That was just an amazing performance to not make it…over awful contestants like Diana Digarmo, Matt Rogers, George Huff, on and on. She was the only person who could’ve gave Fantasia a run for her money. Biggest mistake in this show’s history. But it’s not just that she didn’t make it. First she had Simon voting against for the sole reason that she was too fat, which was utterly ridiculous. Then they bring her on for wildcard and kick her off without even letting her sing again??? Not only was that unfair, it was just totally mean to waste her time and give her false hope. God, it still enrages me. haha

  16. The Other Evan says:

    An awful lot of Season 8+ contestants. May I suggest Kelli Glover and Angela Peel from Season 1?

  17. Nedsdag says:

    I truly believe the reason why many of them didn’t go further on AI has to do with the development of HDTV. Ricky Braddy, for instance, would have made it in a pre-HD world a la Elliott Yamin. Kendra, Lauren, and Robby, although good, didn’t photograph well on high definition television, and I truly believe that was the reason why they weren’t chosen.

  18. Chris Marino says:

    Nobody better than Kaitlyn Epperly… The Scientist is my favorite idol performance of any season… That was a travesty that night….

  19. Jason says:

    Lily Scott is probably my favorite Idol ever. Fixing A Hole was the coolest thing ever on Idol!!!

  20. Trouty Mouth says:

    I disagree with the inclusion of Robbie Rosen; to me, he was just another dull teenage contestant who only sang ballads.

  21. Keith says:

    Jessica’s brother Jonny Lang mabe it big without Idol so here’s hoping she does

  22. ?!?!?! says:

    Even though season 4 was ages ago, I still vividly remember Aloha’s performance of “Work it Out.” I had never heard that song prior to her performance, yet after watching her sing it, I was singing it all over the place. It’s literally the performance I list when someone says or mentions the most memorable Idol performance. There are a few others, but Aloha’s “Work it Out” is always the first that comes to my mind.

  23. darcy's evil twin says:

    Ah, Lauren Turner. She was one of the best women of season 10. Her “Seven Day Fool” was wonderful.

  24. thereasonsy says:

    I STILL want to know what the eff happened on season3 wildcard night!

  25. Lisa says:

    CHIP DAYS!!!!!! Robbed by the wild card addition of the awful Carmen “Goat Girl” Rasmussen.

  26. I can feel Slezak trembling his hands to doesn’t write MY-BELOVED-DIVA-HALEY-REINHART-F..-ALL-THE-WORLD-ESPECIALLY-RANDY, since she was a third place and had a recorde deal, therefore can’t be considered ‘robbed”. LOL

  27. noa says:

    Lisa Leuschner and Sabrina Sloan are def the 2 i’m still most “upset” about. and i’m glad to Lisa in one of Slezak’s lists. she’s usually in the comments and not in the article.

    i still watch Sweet Thing and Don’t Let Go on youtube sometimes. and i saw Sabrina Sloan on Up All Night (in S1, before it was so bad…)!! that was pretty cool.

  28. Tahoe Mike says:

    The only two on the list that I remember are Lilly Scott, and Katelyn Epperly. Brandy Neelly made the list this season.

  29. Kate'shomesick says:

    David Hernandez….I know that he was in the finals BUT he was clearly robbed because of his stripper-“scandal” thing…which shouldn’t have been factoring in at all…he is a GREAT vocalist and apparently really nice also…

  30. kirads09 says:

    “Outrage over inexplicable voting results” on AI. What about Clay Aiken Season 2 finale. Come on. Ruben’s mom stated she voted 200+ times for him that night. I tried over and over to vote for Clay and never got through to vote once, and I wasn’t the only one. So either it was so busy that Clay was getting enough votes to win, or they manipulated the phones. Still say AI is rigged 100%. That is the point I stopped watching and have not tuned in since.

  31. Morgan says:

    This started in season 1 when Tamyra Gray was voted off in favor of Justin Guarini. It should have come down to Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray. I stopped watching after that farce.

  32. Lauren says:

    This shows just how badly Idol need to revamp their policy on who can try out next year. I’d love it if Alex Lambert, Katelyn Epperly or Robbie Rosen could come back next year.

  33. Vetle says:

    Katelyn Epperly, Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott are truly the worst decisions ever! Stupid voters. :(

    Season 8 had so many contestants I would just swap in to take the places of Gokey, Lil, Jorge, Jasmine, Michael, Scott. Infact, I would swap in all those above + I’ll even throw in Ju’Not Joyner. They had 3 girls on tour. That’s so mind boggling.

    Where’s Suzy Vulaca though?

    • Vetle says:

      And people are gonna hate me for this, but I really wouldn’t mind if Danny Noriega had reached the top 12 in season 7…. mostly because he was fun….

  34. Kevin says:

    Katelyn was the one that hurt the most. She was so robbed. I loved Asia’h too, she was always so much fun. Another interesting thing this made me think about was contestants who showed promise early but failed in the semi finals. Stevie Wright, Anne Marie Boskovich, Julie Zorilla. List goes on and on

    • Harmony says:

      I agree about Julie Zorilla. Leading up to the semifinals I thought that she was going to win that season. Then she disappointed in the semi’s and was gone forever. :/

  35. Mikko Makitalo says:

    I was more or less devastated, when these people left the show:
    Season1 Jazmin Lowery
    S7 Alaina Whittaker, Alexandrea Lushington
    S8 Jesse Langseith
    S10 Kendra Chantelle, Lauren Turner
    S11 Jen Hirsh, Reed Grimm, Hallie Day

    And here are the ones, I would have liked to see more, although I was not devastated:
    S1: Natalie Burge, Alexis Lopez
    S4: Amanda Avila
    S8: Jackie Tohn, Taylor Vaifanue
    S9: Katelyn Epperly, Janell Wheeler, Alex Lambert
    S10: Ta-Tynisa Wilson
    S11: Aaron Marcellus, Chase Likens, Baylie Brown

    And:…I was devastated, that Shelby Dressel (S9) and Ariel Sprague (S11 and this season) did not make it to the semifinals, but that was not about the voters.

    And…alhough not a fan, I wonder if the 10 boy semifinalists we just saw, were really better than the excellent David Leathers jr?

  36. Mikko Makitalo says:

    …adding still one person to my “devastated” department: Lisa Leuschner (was it S3?)

  37. Anna says:

    The Season 8 semifinals were stacked. There are several people who were “snubbed” who I would have advanced to the Top 13 over Jasmine, Jorge, Scott or Michael. And one reason why I found Season 9 so bad is that they went with people like Tim and Aaron over Lilly and Alex (although to be honest, Alex’s strange behavior and his arrogance after he got cut has turned me off him. Did you guys know he is a co-writer on one of Chris Rene’s singles?)

    • Susanna says:

      Also, Anna – Alex is the official co-writer of Justin Bieber/CRJ’s duet “Beautiful” on her album Its now listed on ASCAP under the official license number of “Beautiful” so he IS getting ALL royalties derived therefrom. THAT is easily the biggest accomplishment of any alum from that season – congrats to Alex!..

  38. Anna says:

    I don’t remember most of the people listed here who were on the earlier seasons of Idol, so I guess that means I wouldn’t say that they were “snubbed”. Of the ones I do remember, I’d take Robbie off this list. I didn’t think he was good at all.

    Glad to see most of them have continued trying to make a career for themselves in the music industry.

  39. Vetle says:

    You should make a Hollywood week robs/what could’ve beens.

    Never forget:
    Jermaine Purifoy/Purifory, Deanna Brown, Sarah Sellers, Brandy Neelly, Emily Wynne-Hughes (know she entered The Voice, don’t care!), Cody Sheldon, Joshiah Lemming […]

    Some of them have done stuff after, but I wonder what Idol could’ve done for them.

  40. Larc says:

    Many contestants are cut simply because they don’t fit into Idol’s casting notions at the time. I think it sometimes has absolutely nothing to do with their singing talents. A number of those mentioned here may have gone through if they had tried for subsequent seasons.

    • Vetle says:

      Totally. Ricky Brady would’ve made it if they didn’t feel like they needed another girl (the fact that both Jasmine and Tatiana got the wildcard spot in the first place is ridiculous). Also Jasmine over Jesse. AAARGH!

  41. Betsy says:

    Hey should have a special season of AI and bring all of these people back for a second chance at it.

  42. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Chris Daughtry was NOT an early bootee. Didn’t he finish in 4th place?

    Obviously, this is Michael Slezak’s opinion, but here’s mine:
    I agree Mishavonna should have earned a spot in the finals. ENOUGH with boring Kendra Chantelle already! While you mentioned Ashthon, Karen and Thia as snooze-inducing, perhaps the biggest snooze-inducer was Pia Toscano, who was booted after Thia (Naima got less votes than Thia, if we are to believe the “billing” or the order of names during the tour). And guess what? Kendra Chantelle was even more boring than any of those girls. Seriously, her choices and singing style made me fall asleep. She also was not as pretty as any of those girls that made the finals. Harsh but true. Ricky Braddy is like a hot version of Michael Slezak, so whatever. Kristin McNamara had an off-putting fake baby-girl personality, I was ecstatic she was booted. Robbie Rosen does not belong in this group. Snoozer. Katelyn Epperly, pretty girl but also a snooze-inducer. Alex Lambert was hot, but I imagine he would have peed himself onstage eventually.

  43. sg54 says:

    Now here’s whats gonna suck this year: A bunch of girls are gonna get snubbed from the finals while a bunch of suckish guys that don’t deserve get through just because they need guys in the finals. In the girl’s top five for this week, i can only get rid of one girl. in the boy’s top 5, i could get rid of three, maybe four (curtis’s arrogance annoys me). Next week is probably gonna have even more girl talent. Its just not fair.

  44. Guitar Blue says:

    An interesting series of short articles about Idol’s seasons, controversies and statements by former contestants is on wiki – worth the read : ————————————————————

  45. Kate says:

    I love Slezak for so many reasons, and his endless love for Aloha Mi’Sho (Mischauex?) is one of them. I don’t think I remembered this girl 2 weeks after she was on, and he’s been talking about her for years.

  46. Alex says:

    I remember hardly any of these singers. So… robbed? No.

  47. Jordan Stacey says:

    Season 1: Adriel Herrera & Kelli Glover
    Season 2: None
    Season 3: Lisa Leuschner & Suzy Vulaca
    Season 4: Aloha Mischeaux
    Season 5: Stevie Scott & Ayla Brown
    Season 6: Leslie Hunt & Sabrina Sloan
    Season 7: Danny Noriega & Asia’h Epperson & Alexandrea Lushington
    Season 8: Jesse Langseth, Felicia Barton, Kendall Beard, Ju’Not Joyner, Kristen McNamara, Taylor Vaifanua, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Mishavonna Henson, Ann Marie Boskovich & Jacki Tohn (Worst season just for the amount of talent left behind)
    Season 9: Lilly Scott, Alex Lambert, Katelyn Epperly, Joe Munoz & Janell Wheeler
    Season 10: Kendra Chantelle, Lauren Turner & Tim Halperin
    Season 11: Jen Hirsh, Aaron Marcellus, Baylie Brown & Brielle Von Hugel (Yeah I liked her)

    I’m already dreading this season… :(

  48. Harmony says:

    I voted for Jesse Langseth and downloaded her semifinal performance of Bette Davis Eyes. I still wish that she had gone through. :/ Such talent and potential.

  49. Harmony says:

    This list of gone-too-soon contestants reminds me just how talented Season 8 really was! I remember sitting there watching those semifinals, with the 36 contestants that would soon be 13, and wondering how that was even possible. I would have loved for a top 20 or even a top 25 to make it to the big stage aka the finals. There was so much talent that season. There was a ton of talent in season 9 as well; a good amount of it was eliminated in the semis. :(