For the first time in their six-year tenure as judges on “American Idol,” Katy Perry and Lionel Richie will miss a critical live episode of the show. Both music superstars received an invitation they couldn’t refuse: the chance to perform at London’s Westminster Abbey for King Charles III’s coronation concert on May 7, 2023.
But being part of the historic event means Richie and Perry can’t be in Hollywood that same night for the live “American Idol” episode during which the Top 8 will be whittled down to just five contestants. Seacrest explained the solution during the May 1 show, revealing that the two judges will be replaced by substitute music superstars Alanis Morrissette and Ed Sheeran, who will work alongside Luke Bryan at the judges’ table. Here’s what you need to know:
Ed Sheeran & Alanis Morissette Announce Upcoming ‘Idol’ Gig Via Video
Rumors had been flying about who might fill the judges’ shoes, especially after Bryan hinted during an interview with Entertainment Tonight on April 29 that producers had secured some major talent for the night.
“It’s big time. It’s big time,” Bryan said. “The people that we have filling in, contestants have used their songs many, many times. A lot more than mine!”
During the live episode of “American Idol” on May 1, Seacrest revealed that Richie and Perry’s roles will be filled temporarily by Sheeran and Morissette, and that the contestants will perform their music as part of the show. In addition to serving as a judge, seven-time Grammy-winner Morissette will serve as a mentor to the Top 8 contestants as they each prepare to sing one of her hits from the 90s.
In a video message to the contestants that aired during “Idol,” Morissette said, “I am so excited to be mentoring you and hearing your interpretations of my songs. I can’t wait to hear them!”
When Seacrest announced that Sheeran would also be a judge and that the contestants would be performing duets of his songs, several of the “Idol” hopefuls jumped out of their seats with excitement. Sheeran also recorded a video message for them.
“I can’t wait to guide you through this stage of the competition and career,” he said. “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.”
Both singers will perform during the two-hour episode, too. Morissette will perform one of her hits, according to Deadline, and Sheeran will give an exclusive performance of his new single.
Katy Perry and Lionel Richie Will Appear Virtually on ‘Idol’ Episode
While explaining the judging twist, Seacrest said that Richie and Perry will not be completely absent from the May 7 show. They plan to check in virtually from Windsor Castle during the live episode. Since it begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time in the U.S., that will be 1 p.m. the following day in London.
Perry told Extra that being asked to take part in the event is an “honor” and revealed both why she received an invitation and why she said yes to the future king.
She said, “I’m an ambassador to one of his foundations for the British Asian trust, which primarily focuses on ending child trafficking, which is a huge issue of our time that people don’t talk enough about, and it just aligned with all my values… He asked me to sing and it all aligned.”
“I’m really excited,” she continued, adding that she can’t wait to stay in Windsor Castle. “I might be posting a lot because I’m gonna be in a castle, for real. This is wild.”
Richie told Parade he also has a history of collaborating on charity work with Prince Charles over the years.
“I’ve known him for a while,” Lionel said. “I’ve been Global Chairman of the Board of his Prince’s Trust. What we’ve done over the last 30-some odd years, we’ve helped a million kids.”
The coronation concert will be held on May 7, the day after King Charles’ actual coronation, and will be broadcast live in the U.K. Other performers include Andrea Bocelli, British pop group Take That, Freya Ridings, and Alexis Ffrench. According to Parade, Sir Bryn Terfel will perform Welsh folk songs and the event will be hosted by “Downton Abbey” star Hugh Bonneville.
Interestingly, per Vanity Fair, British-born Sheeran was also invited to perform at King Charles’ coronation concert but declined.
The next “Idol” episode, featuring guest judges Morissette and Sheeran, airs live on Sunday, May 7, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.