When Katy Perry Is Leaving ‘American Idol’

Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry

Heavy/ABC "American Idol" judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry

As season 22 of “American Idol” kicks off on February 18, 2024, it will be the seventh and final premiere featuring Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan judging contestants’ auditions. That’s because Perry shocked fans — and even her castmates — by announcing on February 12 that her seventh season as a judge would be her last.

Here’s what you need to know:

Katy Perry Plans to Focus on Music and Touring After Season 22 of ‘Idol’

After season 22 of “American Idol” crowns a winner in May, Perry plans to step down and reprioritize her own music career, she told Jimmy Kimmel during her surprise announcement on his late night show.

“This fall, in September, I’m going to be doing this huge music festival in Brazil called Rock in Rio,” she told Kimmel, “… so I think this probably will be my last show, my last season for ‘Idol.’”

Though each season of “Idol” airs for three months of the year, filming occurs for much longer. “Idol” typically begins filming auditions in September, followed by the show’s infamous Hollywood Week in December. Weeks before each season’s premiere, the judges typically gather to see the top contestants perform at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa, as they did in early February 2024.

“I mean, I love ‘Idol’ so much,” Perry told Kimmel as the crowd gasped at the news. “I know. It’s connected me with, like, the heart of America. But I feel like I need to go out and feel that pulse, that pulse to my own beat.”

Much to her fans’ delight, Perry hinted at new music in the works and a possible world tour.

“I love the show so much,” she said again, adding, “I want to go and see the world, and maybe bring new music. Maybe I’ll come back if they have me one day.”

ABC has not publicly commented on Perry’s announcement, but viewers and media critics are already hypothesizing about who might replace the pop star on the judging panel. “Idol” alum Carrie Underwood, former “The Voice” coach Miley Cyrus and past judges like Paula Abdul have been frequently mentioned as likely candidates.

Katy Perry Didn’t Tell Her Fellow ‘American Idol’ Judges She Was Quitting

"American Idol" cast

ABC“American Idol” judges Luke Perry, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie with host Ryan Seacrest

Perry’s decision to leave “Idol” was a huge surprise not only to viewers, but to her fellow cast mates. As recently as October, she told “Entertainment Tonight” that nothing could separate them.

“You can’t break this band up,” she insisted at the time.

After she dropped her bombshell news on Kimmel’s show, he responded, “Oh wow. What did Luke and Lionel say about this?”

“Well, they’ll find out tonight,” Perry quickly said, smiling nervously at the audience.

When Kimmel asked if she was being serious, she slowly replied, “Well, they know that I have some things planned for this year.”

When Richie appeared on Kimmel’s show days later, he confirmed that he and Bryan had no idea Perry was leaving their trio.

“I’m not mad,” Richie said when Kimmel asked about her announcement. “It just made me run off the road. My phone blew up … No, we didn’t know about it, but it makes sense.”

Richie continued, “In other words, the reason I love coming on the show here with you, and the reason I’m doing ‘American Idol’ is because I have 400 years of stories and a life in the music business. I have things that I’ve done. And so, when Katy says, ‘I want to go out and create some stories’ … the point is that you have to take some time and actually be an artist.”

Season 22 of “American Idol” premieres on February 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern time.