Accidental 'American Idol' Kayko Is Still Close Friends With Abby Blake


Back during the American Idol auditions for 2024, Sam 'Kayko' Kelly-Cohen came with his close friend Abby Blake to play piano as her accompaniment for her audition of Pink’s “What About Us.”

The vote was split on Abby, but she did get a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Then Katy Perry asked Kayko if he was also a singer. When he admitted he was and that Kayko was actually the name of his band, the judges asked him to sing, too. He performed his original song, “Time of Your Life,” and was also awarded a ticket to Hollywood, which is how he earned the social media title of “Accidental Idol.”

Once in Hollywood, though, Kayko made it through to the Top 24 and Abby didn’t. When Parade caught up with the 23-year-old songwriter and producer who calls Nashville home at the American Idol Top 10 celebration, we had to ask how Abby's cut affected their friendship.

“We are true friends,” he said. “This thing was so not a bit for television. She’s one of the closest people that I have in my life in Nashville, and so she asked me to be on the show because she wanted to take me up on this process. Her even being on Hollywood Week and us having this moment together, we’ll have that for the rest of our lives for sure.”

Related: American Idol Results Tonight: Who Went Home and Who Made the Top 10?

In fact, Kayko reassures us that Abby is “super cool” and that when he returns to Nashville the plan is for them to go out to dinner and talk about all the adventures.

“I think she’s so talented,” he said. “Absolutely the world I think exists for Abby.”

Kayko, who attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, initially made all the cuts on American Idol by performing original songs. But then came theme nights in which the artists had to perform songs from the American Songbook and then No. 1 hits from the Billboard charts, which slowed his roll a bit.

Kayko, Julia Gagnon<p>Disney/Frank Micelotta</p>
Kayko, Julia Gagnon

Disney/Frank Micelotta

“It’s so hard,” Kayko admitted. “I’m like, ‘What the heck am I doing?’ every single time. But the strategy that I’m going to go with is to take a song and try and bring it to my own universe. I think that’s the only chance I have. I don’t think I could do any Ed Sheeran song better than Ed Sheeran did it.”

Related: America Idol Winner Chayce Beckham Releases Debut Album That Comes From His Heart and Soul

But there will come a time when Idol will once again allow Kayko to perform his original music. After all, look what happened with 2021 winner Chayce Beckham, whose Idol winning song “23” went platinum and is the first song that made it to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay charts that was written by a sole artist since Taylor Swift’s “Ours” in 2012.

“Yes, crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy,” Kayko agrees. “That’s a great song. Original music is my passion. I am in this to share my artistry with the world. American Idol’s given me such a platform to do that with I’m over the moon with how this process has gone so far.”

It’s too soon to tell if Kayko will be the one to win but he’s definitely one of the frontrunners for the season, and it’s given him a loyal fan following that he didn’t have prior to this.

“That’s all I’ve wanted my whole life, was a small, little group of people that I feel like we all think alike, and I can share my thoughts and make music for them,” he says. “That’s what I care about. When this show is over, win or lose, you’re going to hear a lot more original music.”

American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, streaming next day on Hulu.

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