“American Idol” fans, mark your calendars: season 21 of the show is officially set to premiere on February 19, 2023 — but filming is already underway. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming season.
‘American Idol’ Cast is Already Taping Season 21
On November 7, 2022, “American Idol” announced its 21st season will debut on Sunday, February 19, 2023. The two-hour premiere will air on ABC at 8pm Eastern and Pacific, which will lead into ABC’s new spy drama series, “The Company You Keep,” starring Milo Ventimiglia. Fans can also stream “Idol” on Hulu.
The first 15 seasons of “Idol” aired on FOX from 2002 – 2016, but the show was brought back to life by ABC in 2018 with judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. All three are returning for their sixth season together alongside host Ryan Seacrest, who’s been with the show all 21 seasons.
Though the show may never garner the stunning ratings it had in its first few seasons with winners including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, which was before streaming services and social media even existed, “Idol” is still a big draw, continually at the top of Sunday night primetime ratings, according to Deadline.
On September 25, Seacrest and the judges kicked off filming season 21 in Las Vegas, which was the first “judge city” of the season, where contestants who made it through online auditions were invited to try out in front of the celebrity judges.
The crew and judges moved on to New Orleans on October 10, where another batch of contestants filmed auditions and promotional footage. Onlookers captured video and photos of the judges watching a parade with marching bands, and filming multiple takes of them walking down a red carpet in celebration of the show’s 21st birthday.
Final online auditions have ended, and the last group of contestants to make it through will gather in the final judge city, Nashville, this month. Music City has become home — or a home away from home — to many of season 20’s top contestants. Winner Noah Thompson divides his time between there and his hometown of Louisa, Kentucky, and both runner-up HunterGirl and third-place winner Leah Marlene live there.
What Happens Between Now & the ‘Idol’ Premiere?
Depending on how many singers impress Richie, Perry and Bryan enough to get a golden ticket, approximately 64 contestants typically move onto the always-intense Hollywood Week, when they have to work in groups and pairs under tight time constraints, facing elimination by the judges with each performance.
Last year, according to contestant Wyatt Pike, Hollywood Week started on December 6, 2021. He made it through each round, and onto the Showcase Round, which is filmed before a live studio audience and the judges on a large stage, and was back home — and part of the Top 24 — by December 18. Pike decided not to continue with the show after Hollywood Week, though.
During season 20, for the first time, “American Idol” took all of its Top 24 contestants to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, to film more performances — and judge eliminations — on February 14 and 15, according to Hawaii News Now. The Hawaii performances aired in April and was the first chance for viewers to vote live, with results that cut the group in half announced the following week. ABC hasn’t announced yet whether the same process will take place for season 21.