Viewers tuning into tonight’s live episode of “American Idol” will find two new faces behind the judges’ table. When the iconic TV talent show moved to ABC in 2018, music stars Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie signed on as its judges — but for the first time in six seasons, Perry and Lionel will miss the show and be replaced by two superstar guest judges: Alanis Morissette and Ed Sheeran.
Perry and Richie were among just a handful of American entertainers invited to attend the historic coronation ceremony of King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, on May 6, 2023, and then perform at the Coronation Celebration the following evening. Because Perry and Richie couldn’t perform in London and be back in Hollywood in time for “Idol,” producers had to figure out a way to go on with the show. Here’s what you need to know:
Guest Judges Will Wear Multiple Hats During ‘American Idol’
Though Perry and Richie are expected to check in with the show virtually from London, Morrisette and Sheeran will be part of the entire two-hour live episode. According to a release from ABC, the Top 8 contestants will each perform two songs live; a solo performance of one of Morissette’s hits, with her mentoring them on their selection, and a duet with a fellow contestant on one of Sheeran’s hit songs.
Both Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriters will join Bryan at the judges’ table to assess the contestants’ performances. Viewers will have the full two hours to vote for the contestants they think should advance to the Top 5.
Bryan told People he was looking forward to seeing what the back-and-forth will be like with Morissette and Sheeran.
“When we’re up there, we’re speaking from the heart,” he said. “And Alanis and Ed, they’ll do that also. They’re obviously seasoned in every aspect of the industry.”
“It’s funny,” he continued. “Over the years, Lionel and Katy probably can almost predict what I’m going to say. So it’ll be interesting that I’ll be up there with people that I can’t predict exactly what they’re going to say.”
Meanwhile, Perry also thinks the guest judges are great picks for the show, especially since the contestants seem so excited to meet them.
“I loved the reaction from the contestants,” she told People. “I idolize Alanis, ‘Jagged Little Pill’ is the reason I do music. Ed Sheeran is the best producer, writer, artist, life-liver. I’m really excited to watch his documentary because I know that he’s been through a lot.”
“These are two people who always stay true to themselves and are real so I think it’s awesome to have them as judges,” she added.
Ed Sheeran Says He Was Not Invited to Perform at Coronation Concert
There were many press reports that Sheeran, who was born and raised in Great Britain, turned down an invitation to sing at the royal coronation, but he put those rumors to rest during an appearance on SiriusXM’s Morning Mashup show last week.
“I want to clear something up actually because there was loads of stuff in the press that I turned down the coronation, and no one ever asked me ever,” he said. “I assume if they went online and went, ‘What’s Ed doing on May 6th?’ they would’ve been like, ‘Oh, he’s playing in Dallas.'”
“I think that’s what happened,” he continued, “but obviously, (the) press had the negative story of loads of people turning down the coronation. But I never ever turned it down. I’m excited to tune [in]. It’s historic.”
Sheeran also scored a major victory in court last week, per NPR, over copyright infringement claims he’d stolen parts of Marvin Gaye’s hit “Let’s Get It On” for his own hit, “Thinking Out Loud.” The singer had even threatened to leave music altogether if the jury didn’t vote in his favor. But with his name cleared and his tour underway, Sheeran is excited about moving forward with his career.
“I am obviously very happy with the outcome of this case,” he said after the jury read its verdict, “and it looks like I’m not going to have to retire from my day job, after all. But at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.”
In a video message that aired on the May 1 episode, Sheeran said, “I can’t wait to guide you through this stage of the competition and career. Yeah, this is the first time I’ve done this on ‘American Idol,’ I can’t wait to take the iconic ‘American Idol’ stage, and mostly I’m just looking forward to meeting all of you and talking through life and music.”
Sheeran once served as a Mega Mentor on “The Voice,” but in 2021, the songwriter expressed disappointment on Dax Shepard’s podcast that contestants weren’t allowed to perform their own original songs. “Idol,” meanwhile, encourages singer-songwriters to share their own compositions during weeks when there aren’t challenges like having to cover Morissette and Sheeran’s tunes.
The two stars will guest judge on the live episode that airs on May 7 at 8 p.m. Eastern time.