TORONTO — Two celebrity judges on American Idol are being slammed for making fun of a contestant’s song choice on Wednesday’s episode.
Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez talked to each other while Keith London sang Beyonce’s “If I Was a Boy.”
Connick Jr. said he wasn’t impressed by London’s pick. “It’s a weird choice. It’s like, ‘okay, we get it.’ Trying to be cute.”
Lopez called it “bizarre.”
Afterwards, Lopez told London: “We were talking through the whole thing because we were so distracted by that.”
London countered that he had good reason to sing the song. “I think it’s like a general message for everyone not to judge anybody else because nobody knows where you started from.”
The song and London’s explanation led some viewers to wonder if London was revealing himself as transgender.
“Is Keith London transgender? And do the judges know it?,” asked Dave Holmes of Vulture. “Harry and Jen’s reactions don’t mesh with their personalities. What I think they’re doing here is building buzz, putting a red flag on this guy for the future, where I think a Shocking Announcement lies.”
When Connick Jr. prompted London to sing another song, he chose the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit “Same Love.”
Following the broadcast of the episode, London tweeted: “Wait, did I just basically come out on National TV? Oh well cats out of the bag! I truly can say I sang from my heart!”
Wait, did I just basically come out on National TV? Oh well cats out of the bag! I truly can say I sang from my heart!
— Keith London (@KeithLondon_) February 6, 2014
Kate Ward of Bustle called the judges’ reactions “appalling.” Many on social media agreed.
Kind of lost a lot of respect for the judges of American idol for making @KeithLondon_ re-sing bc he sang a song w/ the original pronouns.
— Kyle Edmonston (@The_Edmonster) February 6, 2014
@KeithLondon_ I thought the judges response was dim witted and simple. You were brave and sounded great!
— Trent Armand Kendall (@Trent_A_Kendall) February 6, 2014
I have been so HAPPY with the American Idol judges this year but their treatment of Keith London was utterly, utterly appalling. Ugh.
— Sir Kumference (@sirkumference) February 6, 2014
Thought Keith London did an amazing job on “If I were a boy” shame on the judges for thinking it was a novelty act. #AmericanIdol
— Lisa (@uberlisa12) February 6, 2014
@KeithLondon_ You’re awesome. Making a statement about yourself isn’t “cute” or “bizarre”. I’m really disappointed in the judges 4 saying so
— Casie Spangler (@AKansasLiberal) February 6, 2014
Despite the criticism from Lopez and Connick Jr., London managed to make it on to the next round.
Third Idol judge Keith Urban sat quietly during London’s rendition of “If I Was A Boy” and was equally respectful at his initial audition in Boston, where London performed Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
“I know who you are just by listening to that song,” Urban said in Boston. “You have a unique look, you have a unique way of being — and that’s enough for me.”
Connick Jr. was the only judge not to vote for London at the first audition.
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