‘American Idol’ 2021: Changes to Expect in Season 4

American Idol Judges

ABC/Eric McCandless

Season 4 of ABC’s reboot of American Idol premieres on Sunday, February 14, 2021, and in-house mentor Bobby Bones recently spoke to Parade about what to expect in the upcoming season.

The mentor joins American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie for the new season as well as long-time host Ryan Seacrest.

Bones talked about his reasons for returning for yet another season of the show as the in-house mentor.

“Working with Idol is great because this is really the one singing competition show that is about the artist,” he shared. “And so, even from season one on ABC, it was, ‘Hey, let’s see what I can lend to the contestants.’ Because I didn’t really know yet; I hadn’t been on the show yet.”

He added, “Then to not only watch them grow and to see that I could help them with a lot of things, like what songs to sing or how to impress the judges, and then once I went on Dancing With the Stars, I could actually talk to them about competing on a show because I’d been through that as well.”

Bones Talked About What to Expect in Season 4

Bones opened up about what to expect in the upcoming season including the inclusion of TikTok stars and other influencers.

Idol acknowledges the real world, meaning it’s aware that people are getting [known from] TikTok and Instagram,” he said. “We’re like, ‘Great, come be exactly who you are, we’re not going to change you. Let’s see how far your talent and your voice will take you.”

He also talked about working with artists throughout their careers, like he has with Gabby Barrett and Laine Hardy.

“So what keeps me going back is the fact that I get to keep developing these guys even after the show is over,” Bones told the outlet. “I took a couple contestants from the last season on tour with me as well, to open and to play in my band. So it’s been pretty great for me so far as far as the continued mentorship.”

The Categories in the New Season Have Changed

According to the interview, the categories in the upcoming season have changed.

“We have changed the categories a bit where people get to choose their format,” he shared. “So that’s a change. In Hollywood Week, the judges went around into the rooms a bit more than ever before and worked with the contestants as well. We had duets last year, but the big twist this year was the judges paired people up.”

He said that, though COVID may have been a factor in some of the changes, it wasn’t the only reason for those.

Idol host Ryan Seacrest talked to ABC News Radio about the differences in the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic and opened up about what filming was like during the season so far.

“We were in a safe environment,” he said. “We shot Hollywood Week from the Dolby Theater, as we have done in years past. So the scale of the show looks like American Idol should look and has looked over the years. And then our plan in the spring is to be back in the studio.”

He added, “I don’t know if we have an audience or not, but we should be back on the big stage with the judges, myself and the contestants, so that’s exciting.”

READ NEXT: Ryan Seacrest Talks New ‘American Idol’ Season

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