‘American Idol’ Finalist Reveals How She ‘Broke the Rules’ to Stay Afloat

by Samantha Whidden

More than 10 years after being dubbed runner-up on the ninth season of “American Idol,” Crystal Bowersox opens up about how she ended up having to cheat on the show in order to stay afloat. 

While recently speaking to Insider, the “American Idol” star revealed that the show told her to stop performing at local gigs for several months in order for her to participate in season nine. However, Bowersox admitted she had to break the rule due to the fact that she was experiencing “borderline homelessness.”

“Telling me that I couldn’t perform? That was my sole source of income,” Bowersox stated about “American Idol” rules. The production told her not to take any outside performing jobs between auditions. She had to do this in the summer of 2009 and Hollywood Week in January 2010. This was in order to keep her spot on the long-running show a secret. 

Bowersox further explained that she had “zero experience” in the music industry or in the legal legalities of it. This made the experience more frustrating for her. “They tell you you’re not supposed to perform or tell anyone. Your family has to sign contracts, nondisclosure agreements.”

However, while news about her undercover gigs ended up surfacing anyway, the “American Idol” finalist said she somehow avoided getting disqualified from the show. 

Bowersox Originally ‘Resisted’ in Trying Out For ‘American Idol’

Along with discussing her rule-breaking gigs, Bowersox spoke about how she originally resisted trying out for “American Idol.” Because she said the idea of “pitting people against each other” in a music competition was strange to her. 

But then when things started to get rough for her and her family, Bowersox had to swallow her pride and audition. “I was camping out at my dad’s house on the living-room floor and playing the $50 bar gigs was not going to cut it while caring for my [infant] child.”

Bowersox decided to drive five hours to Illinois from Ohio with her son to audition for “American Idol” season nine. She performed Erma Franklin’s “Piece of My Heart” and earn a ticket to Hollywood. She went on to be the runner-up behind season winner, Lee DeWyze. 

Meanwhile, season seven “American Idol” winner David Cook said he endured a pretty difficult situation during that season’s Hollywood Week as well. 

The singer and songwriter shared that he received the job offer he had been waiting for. However, he had to choose between the show and the job. He shared that he picked “American Idol” and crossed his fingers. This is all because he had “to see this through” when it came to the music competition. Luckily, he ended up winning the season and has continued to pursue his music career.