Warning! The following contains spoilers for American Idol Season 4 Auditions Part 2. Read at your own risk!
American Idol's judges have often come under fire for making the wrong calls with contestants, though incidents provoking backlash from the fandom are usually reserved for the late stages of the season. Season 4 has gotten to the drama pretty early, as fans are making it clear how displeased they are after Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie turned away the talented trans performer Ace Stiles and gave a ticket to Hollywood to a guy who poorly performed a Pitbull song.
From the first moment when 16-year-old Ace Stiles stepped on stage, it seemed like he was destined to be on American Idol. The quirky outfit matched an equally quirky voice that a show like this would usually applaud while aiming to see more. Following the performance, though, the judges ultimately turned Ace away, saying they wanted to make sure he was ready to be as good as he could be before truly making it into the competition. You can watch the process in the video below.
I think the rejection in and of itself was already a hard-to-swallow moment for viewers, since there was a lot to love about Ace Stiles' performance. What made many American Idol fans REALLY angry, however, is that Stiles was sent home after an objectively bad competitor was given a ticket to Hollywood earlier in the episode.
While I'd typically be more reserved about calling anyone's audition "bad," it's really hard to consider Yurisbel Garcia's first performance on American Idol legitimately worthy of a trip to Hollywood. The hopeful came on the show with a lot of energy, but killed that promise with a questionable rendition of Pitbull's "Fireball." Don't take my word for it though, check out the audition below and the judges' reasoning for keeping him around by the end.
After seeing the two performances, it's pretty hard to argue that the contestant that moved through was more deserving. At least, that's the popular notion online, where folks are beside themselves that Ace Stiles was turned away and the "mascot of fun" will advance to the next round. You know it's real when the Shining GIFs come out.
The judges are catching hell from the decision as well, despite their well wishes for Ace Stiles on social media. Luke Bryan was openly eager to see Ace do well in the future, but that didn't stop viewers from questioning his rationale in being lukewarm on such a solid performance while gyrating alongside a questionable one.
It's worth noting, of course, that this wasn't an either-or choice between Ace Stiles or Yurisbel Garcia, and the latter's success had no bearing on the former's lack of success on American Idol. There are other competitors who may have performed worse or better in San Diego, but the main reason the two are being lumped together is that their auditions appeared in the same episode. Had they not, Ace's rejection may not have been as jarring to witness, but that's how the editing cookie crumbled here.
Fans can complain all they want of course, but at the end of the day, American Idol made its decision. Perhaps, however, the situation will lead the show to turn away less serious acts, or at least avoid showcasing them prior to turning away an act that, beyond their age, seemed to be someone the judges thought could be a star. I'd like to think the series will open up the door for Ace Stiles should he return in the future, especially with the amount of attention the singer is getting at the moment. Maybe they'll make up a special rule to allow him to return.
American Idol airs on ABC Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Do you think Ace Stiles deserved to go on to Hollywood? Sound off on our poll and continue to stick with us this season for more happening in the competition.