When “American Idol” airs its annual Disney-themed live episode on May 14, 2023, country star Luke Bryan will be reunited with pop star Katy Perry and R&B legend Lionel Richie on the judging panel.
Perry and Richie were gone during last week’s show, except for beaming in periodically via satellite, because they performed at a concert honoring the coronation of King Charles III in London. Bryan stayed behind in Los Angeles to judge the “Idol” contestants’ performances with fill-in judges Ed Sheeran and Alanis Morissette.
The temporary judges made an impact on viewers, with many inspired to plead for changes to the show on social media, ranging from permanent judge replacements to more substantial feedback from the current judges. But the experience was also eye-opening for Bryan, who told People he’s now tempted to “sit out” next season much like Richie and Perry did. He also admitted that the evening crystallized for him just how connected Richie truly is, convinced that the singer has serious pull since he was able to sway the King and Queen of England to appear on “American Idol.”
With ‘Idol’ Likely to Return in 2024, Fans Want Judging Changes
During the show with Morissette and Sheeran, Bryan loved hearing their fresh perspectives on contestants they’d never seen perform nor witnessed their growth over several months.
“I’m just loving watching these two react to you guys,” he said.
After the show, he told People that he enjoyed the night and seeing Richie and Perry check in from overseas.
“It was fun. It kinda makes me want to sit out next year,” he said. “Live from the fishing pond!”
Each summer, ABC typically announces whether the “American Idol” judges have re-upped for another season, as they did in July 2022. Perry, Richie, and Bryan are in their sixth season together, having joined the show when it was rebooted by ABC in 2018 after it was canceled at FOX.
It’s all but certain the show will return in 2024 given its strong TV ratings, ABC’s investment in a brand-new Hollywood studio, and what Golderby recently called the show’s “dominant reign over social media platforms … proving it’s still a cultural phenomenon with unparalleled star-making status.” But whether all three judges will be back remains uncertain.
Throughout the season, the judges have received a great deal of heat on social media for various reasons, from comments by Perry that offended some viewers to the judges’ decisions on which contestants to “save” after America voted them off the show.
Fans have also complained that the judges have not given helpful critiques to the contestants throughout Season 21, pointing to recent mentorship sessions Morissette and “Idol” alum Adam Lambert, who’s a very popular judge on the British talent show “Starstruck,” as examples of the kind of feedback the singers need consistently.
When Lambert appeared on “Idol” in April, Twitter lit up with fans begging for the “Queen” frontman to become a judge on the show.
One wrote, “Seriously, @AdamLambert was the best mentor I have ever seen on #AmericanIdol or even #TheVoice for that matter. He really knows what he is doing. He needs to be a judge. Tonight’s #Idol blew me away. All the singers were so talented and Adam showed them how to bring their A game.”
On Reddit, “Idol” fans were very complimentary of Morissette’s feedback for contestants, wishing the regular judges would follow her lead.
One wrote, “I thought Alanis’s comments were a breath of fresh air! Positive but helpful and so much more meaty than ‘let me tell you something’ and ‘you’ve grown before our eyes.'”
Another fan wrote, “I loved Alanis as a judge, and I think she should be permanent. I liked her better than Katy Perry for sure.”
Luke Bryan Admits He Didn’t Believe Lionel Richie Really Knew the Royal Family
After Richie and Perry’s absence, Bryan admitted that he hadn’t really believed Richie knew King Charles III as well as he does.
“It just shows you the scope and the power of who Lionel Richie (is),” he said, adding that overseeing the smash 80s hit “We Are the World,” which he remade on Season 18 of “Idol” for the song’s 35th anniversary, allowed him to connect with world leaders.
“You see that he’s developed a relationship with King Charles through the years, to the point where Lionel could ask him to pop by and say hey to everybody,” he marveled. “I always felt Lionel was maybe lying and fibbing a little bit about his relationship with all the royals but I gotta say he’s telling the truth now.”
Richie and Perry made headlines during the coronation weekend not only for dazzling the crowd of 20,000 at Windsor Castle but for getting the Royal Family on its feet. In a video shared by the Telegraph, many members of the family were seen dancing to Richie’s songs. Even King Charles was seen bopping to “All Night Long” while waving a British flag, as were two of his grandkids, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince George, 9.
The surprise appearance of King Charles and Queen Camilla on “Idol” was orchestrated in part by Richie who, before bringing them into the shot, said he and Perry had been trying to think of how to bring something fresh to the show. After the episode, host Ryan Seacrest told Entertainment Tonight he had only been informed about their likely participation hours before the show.
“I have to tell you, I was driving in and my phone rings and it’s the executive producer and she says, ‘Well, we’ve got some news,’” Seacrest explained, adding that she told him the King and Queen were going to appear on the show but she wasn’t sure how.
Seacrest recalled her saying, “They’re just gonna figure it out when Lionel and Katy are in some room in Windsor Castle.”