Did The Katy Perry Break The Rules For Alyssa Raghu? The Controversy Explained

American Idol season 22’s Alyssa Raghu is headed back to Hollywood, even though she made it to the Top 8 in season 17. Did the judges break the rules?

American Idol's Alyssa Raghu and Katy Perry

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American Idol season 17 Top 8 finalist Alyssa Raghu returned to audition for the show again in season 22, leaving viewers to wonder if the judges, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, broke the rules for her because, in the past, any contestants who made the Top 10 hadn’t been allowed to come back. Alyssa came to the auditions with her best friend, Julia Davo, who also tried out for the competition. However, Julia didn’t make it to Hollywood because only Lionel voted yes. Alyssa, who’s now 21, told the judges that, when she was 15, they said that her voice was going to grow.

Alyssa said that, “just for giggles,” she’d love to sing for the American Idol season 22 judges, and sang “My All” by Mariah Carey. Alyssa told them that she’d never competed on the show as an adult, so she didn’t know if it was out of the question. Luke said, “Hey, I love breaking … going off course.” Alyssa agreed, “I’m 21! I love breaking rules!” Katy said that she didn’t think Alyssa could win, so she said no. However, Lionel and Luke said yes, so Alyssa received her golden ticket. Although Alyssa was previously in the American Idol season 17 Top 8, no rules were broken for her.

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Alyssa Raghu’s American Idol History

This was Alyssa’s third time auditioning for American IdolShe first earned a golden ticket to Hollywood in 2019 during season 16 at age 15, when she sang “Almost Is Never Enough” by Ariana Grande ft. Nathan Sykes. Lionel, Katy, and Luke all voted yes, so she moved on to the next round. In Hollywood, Alyssa made it to the Top 24, during which she sang “Stay” by Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko and “Yellow” by Coldplay in a duet with Banners. However, Alyssa was eliminated after this round.

American Idol judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie smiling

Alyssa returned the following year to audition again for American Idol season 17. She sang “Shark in the Water” by V.V. Brown. Once again, all three judges said yes, so she competed in Hollywood. During season 17, Alyssa made it all the way to the Top 8, singing songs such as “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and “Somebody to Love” by Queen. After her Top 14 performance of “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles, she didn’t receive enough votes to make it into the Top 10, but Katy chose to save her. However, Alyssa was eliminated in the next round.

Alyssa made it to Hollywood for the third time during American Idol season 22. She’s the first person who was allowed to audition again after being a Top 8 finalist in a previous season. Alyssa will now compete during Hollywood Week.

The American Idol season 22 auditions are still underway, but here’s the scoop on who made it to the Top 24 and performed in the Hawaii Round.

The American Idol Judges Didn’t Break The Rules For Alyssa

American Idol used to have a rule in place that, if a contestant made it to the Top 10 in any season, then they couldn’t audition again. Up until American Idol season 19 (season 4 on ABC) in 2021, the eligibility requirements stated, “You are ineligible to participate in the Program if you competed in any previous season of American Idol and advanced to the Top 10 stage of the competition.” However, during American Idol season 20 (season 5 on ABC), the rules changed to say, “You are ineligible to participate in the Program if you competed in any previous season of American Idol and placed first in the competition.”

This change was most likely made because during American Idol season 19, the show had a special Comeback Competition for the season 18 contestants, whose season had to go remote when the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown happened. American Idol wanted to give them the chance to perform in front of a live audience. Season 18 runner-up Arthur Gunn won the Comeback Competition, and competed in season 19 as well, even though he’d placed second the previous year. No finalist had ever done that before. The show must’ve changed the rules after the auditions in order to make Arthur’s comeback possible.

Because this American Idol eligibility requirement was changed and remains the same, the judges didn’t break any rules when Alyssa not only auditioned again after being a Top 8 finalist, but then made it to Hollywood. Although the previous rules stated that Top 10 contestants couldn’t audition, the rules were changed in 2021 to exclude only winners from competing again. Because Alyssa has never won American Idol, she’s eligible to compete again.

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