Lionel Richie has defended Katy Perry’s controversial kiss with an American Idol contestant, saying it was done in “jest”. Perry, 33, faced a backlash after she unexpectedly gave 19-year-old performer Benjamin Glaze his first kiss ahead of his audition.
After Glaze agreed to kiss her on the cheek, she asked for a second one, but quickly moved her face so the kiss landed on his lips. Clearly shocked, Glaze stumbled back and said "you didn't!" while Perry put her arms in the air. The incident was upsetting for Glaze, now 20, who revealed in a New York Times interview that it was his first kiss and he had been saving it for someone special.
The moment attracted controversy from critics who said that Perry had kissed Glaze without his consent, and the uproar would be bigger if it had been a male judge kissing a female contestant. However Richie later spoke out and said he felt like their “babysitter” because they have “no filter”, but said he believed she did no wrong. “Katy is one of those phenomenons, she can do things and get away with it. It's all in fun, it's all in jest,” he told the Press Association in Los Angeles. “I was there, I'm a witness to it. She was hamming it up, then it was nothing more than that. Of course when you do it to the public you're going to get two different views of what's happening, but trust me it was all in fun.
“Everybody's having a good time - including the contestant.” Bryan also sided with Perry, telling The Morning Show that he believed the story had been over-exaggerated. "It's unfortunate that stuff like that turns into a story that big," he said. "I watched an actual interview where Ben, the kid that was involved, said he was cool with everything." He added: "I may say something one day that everybody's not going to like. That's just what you signed up for. At the end of the day, me and Lionel and Katy and Ryan, our hearts are in the right place." Glaze addressed the backlash on Instagram to clarify he did not believe he had been “sexually harassed” and thanked Perry for “launching my career into the sky like a flaming cannonball”.