Caleb Kennedy shocked the American Idol universe when he abruptly exited the competition on Wednesday, May 12 in the wake of controversy — and now the show's judges are speaking out about his exit.

"Well, losing great talent is always [hard]... this is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation," Lionel Richie told Entertainment Tonight of Kennedy's unceremonious ouster. "We had to ride with what's happening with ABC, and you know, that's where we play. So you know we wish him all the best, but that was just one of those unfortunate things that happens along the way of life.

Ahead of what would've been the Top 5 performances, the 16-year-old country singer either withdrew from or was asked to leave the competition when an old Snapchat video resurfaced online depicting a younger Kennedy seated next to someone wearing what appears to be a KKK hood. (Kennedy was allegedly 12 at the time the three-second clip was taken.)

Luke Bryan also added his take on the scandal, saying, "You know, we love these kids, we love every aspect of their growth and all of this, but it's certainly devastating news when we hear about this. But like we said, our thoughts will be with him as he grows as an artist."

During Sunday night's episode (May 16), Kennedy's fellow finalists — Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler, Willie Spence and Chayce Beckham — all performed songs by none other than Finneas, and were personally mentored by the Grammy-winning producer and pop singer.

Ultimately, Bishop was voted out of the competition, leaving the last remaining three singers to battle it out in the May 23 finale.

Celebrities Who Fell From Public Grace