Why Lionel Richie Is Missing From ‘American Idol’ Showstopper Round

Lionel Richie American Idol

ABC Lionel Richie appeared on the "American Idol" showstopper round by video.

Viewers of American Idol noticed that one-third of the judges were physically absent from the set on the first night of the “Showstopper” round of the competition. Lionel Richie was absent from the set, but he was still there in spirit and via video to speak with the contestants and watch the performances.

Judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan were left to be the physical presence of the judges during this round. Richie still appeared to give the good news or bad news to some contestants, but he was never physically present during the episode.

The Showstopper round continues on March 29, 2021, and Richie will likely still be absent from the studio.

Why Was Richie Missing From ‘American Idol’?

Richie was absent from the Showstopper round on American Idol because he had a possible COVID-19 exposure and had to quarantine away from the set, taking the precautions that were mandated by the show, the show noted during Sunday night’s episode.

Richie is a calming presence for many contestants, as he often delivers even bad news in a nice way. Unfortunately for Richie, one of his favorites wasn’t put through to the next round of the competition.

Contestant Philip Murphy delivered an interesting performance when he first auditioned for the show, intriguing the judges who let him through to Hollywood Week, when he surprised them with his spirit during the duet round.

The decision wasn’t based purely on talent this time around, however. Instead, the judges told Murphy that they didn’t think his type of music was the right type for the show and they thought he’d be more successful somewhere else.

Lionel Richie took to Twitter to congratulate Murphy on his American Idol run, writing, “Your spirit is so inspiring @blindboymusic! I have every faith that this isn’t the last time we’ll see you.”

What’s Next For ‘American Idol’?

The second half of the Showstopper round will air on Monday, March 29, 2021. The show will then move on to the All-Star Duets and Solos that will air for the next few days.

Here’s what the schedule looks like for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, March 28: Showstopper/Final Judgment Part One
  • Monday, March 29: Showstopper/Final Judgment Part Two
  • Sunday, April 4: Top 24 Perform
  • Monday, April 5
  • Sunday, April 11: Top 16 Perform
  • Monday, April 12
  • Sunday, April 18
  • Monday, April 19
  • Monday, April 26
  • Sunday, May 2
  • Monday, May 3
  • Sunday, May 9
  • Monday, May 10
  • Sunday, May 16
  • Monday, May 17
  • Sunday, May 23

The season finale of American Idol is scheduled for Sunday, May 23.

One thing that likely won’t change is the care the show is taking with COVID-19 safety precautions.

Luke Bryan recently opened up to People about the hardest part of filming the show this time around.

“The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19,” Bryan said. “One tricky thing is a lot of times during the audition process, contestants will get very, very emotional and it will be an emotional situation for them.”

He added, “The fact that me and Lionel and Katy can’t walk out there and do the human element – hug and show support and love, is very, very tough.”

Tune in to American Idol to see which contestants ultimately move on throughout the season.

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