Former ‘American Idol’ Judge Returns for Season 19 Top 12 Live Show

American Idol 2021

ABC/Eric McCandless

Season 19 of American Idol will feature an unexpected surprise for many viewers: the return of fan-favorite judge Paula Abdul.

TMZ reported that current Idol judge Luke Bryan has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning that he won’t be able to participate in the April 12 live show.

American Idol announced that Paula Abdul will be taking Bryan’s seat for the night.

“Welcome @PaulaAbdul back to #AmericanIdol as a guest judge in time for #AmericanIdol’s first LIVE show tonight at 8/7c on ABC!” the show’s official account tweeted.

Abdul Will Help Judge the Wildcard Competition

Tonight’s episode of American Idol will feature the announcement of the Top 10 as decided on by America’s vote. After that, the remaining contestants will compete for a chance to continue on in the competition.

Each of the six people not voted on to move forward will have a chance to earn one of two spots that will be decided on by the American Idol judges; Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and now, Paula Abdul.

This will be quite the twist for contestants, as they have never performed for Abdul before and likely won’t know what she was looking for.

Abdul Recently Said it Would Take a Lot to Get Her Back

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Abdul spoke to Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show and addressed whether or not they would return to Idol in the future.

Abdul and Randy Jackson spent years on the judging panel of American Idol before leaving nearly a decade into the show’s tenure; they’ve both moved on and are currently working on other projects.

Abdul was recently a panelist on The Masked Dancer, which is a spin-off from The Masked Singer, so she’s definitely not out of practice judging competition shows.

Jackson said it would take quite a bit to get him back on American Idol. 

“I would only do it if Paula and Simon and Seacrest were still there,” Jackson said before adding that he would want Clarkson be a part of the show as well. “We all need to go back, KC, come on man.”

Abdul had just about the same set of things that would bring her back to the judge’s table on Idol. 

“If we all came back together that would be the only way to come back,” she said, adding that Cowell would be there to bug “the crap” out of her with his British accent.

Clarkson added, “Yeah, I don’t think you could recreate that kind of chemistry with anybody else.”

Jackson said that the whole first season was so “authentic” and Clarkson added to that, not saying that the show is bad now, but it’s a very different show than it used to be.

“I think those first few seasons, no one really knew, so the show was just being what it was, you know what I mean? It wasn’t trying to be something else,” Jackson added to the discussion.

When asked if they would pick Seacrest or Cowell to quarantine with, neither Jackson nor Abdul wanted to answer the question.

READ NEXT: ‘American Idol’ Second Chance Twist: Who is Coming Back to Compete?

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