Did ‘American Idol’ judge Lionel Richie cross the line with his verbal humbling of cocky dreamboat Nick Merico? [POLL]

If Lionel Richie were my dad when I was growing up, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get away with half the stuff I did as a kid. That’s my takeaway from one of the more dramatic confrontations on ABC’s revived edition of “American Idol.” Unlike old-school judge Simon Cowell, who basically was a snark machine on auto pilot when a hopeful got on his nerves, Richie does not like to suffer arrogant fools like 23-year-old Nick Merico gladly. His sin? He decided to not use the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood that he earned last season because “some personal things went down” and “I had to figure out a lot of things.”

True, he did say to Lionel and fellow judges Luke Bryan, who labeled him a “Hunkasaurus Rex” at his first audition, and Katy Perry, who flirted a bit with him last year, “You guys were so kind to me and I’m so grateful for your second opportunity.”

But Richie’s calling out the of the comeback-kid auditioner, who appeared on Nickelodeon’s teen-bait sitcom “Every Witch Way,” after he played the piano and sang Lauren Daigle‘s song “You Say” was downright harsh. It was one thing  for Luke to declare loudly, “You abandoned us,” and Katy issuing the warning, “You better not ghost us,” after she accused Nick of acting as if he thought he was too good for the show.  But they obviously wanted to trust this talented dreamy guy who hails from Woodland Hills, California, with his Elvis Presley eyes and ear-pleasing crooning.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 17)?

However, Lionel was not about to let this dude off so easy and wanted to make him squirm a bit. He told him, “All right, Nick. We have a problem. OK, a big problem, honestly. Namely, I don’t like you. For some weird reason, it’s not sitting well with me. I don’t like your attitude. I don’t like your voice.  I don’t think you are going to make it in Hollywood.” Then he explains why he is saying all this: “I want you to understand what it feels like when people don’t adore you.”

Katy suggests that Nick should try being more modest in his attitude because, that way, “You’ll win America’s heart.” Of course, the judges indulges the guy with a second ticket to Hollywood. They would be kind of nuts not to, considering that Luke called him “a carbon cut-out of a teenybopper heartthrob.” Nick then says to Lionel, “You scared the hell out of me today and I love you for that.”

Check out the video clip above of Nick’s latest audition and compare it to the one below from last season when he sang Amy Winehouse‘s “Back in Black.” It’s a much more distinctive try-out than the one this year. But, then again, he wasn’t getting a dressing down before he performed. Take our poll and tell us whether Nick got the treatment he deserved, whether Lionel went too far with his verbal rebukes and whether Nick deserved to have a second chance to compete. Or share your thoughts in the comments section.

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