Who Will Replace Katy Perry on ‘American Idol’: Short List Emerges

Katy Perry

Heavy/ABC "American Idol" judge Katy Perry

Neither ABC nor Katy Perry‘s “American Idol” castmates have commented yet on her surprise decision to leave the show after seven seasons as a judge. But fans and music industry insiders have plenty to say about who should take her place.

Perry dropped her bombshell announcement on the February 12, 2024, episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” coyly hinting at new music and a possible world tour as the main reasons for leaving “Idol” after season 22. The season premieres on February 18 and crowns a new winner in late May.

Almost immediately after her announcement, fans and media outlets began speculating about which star will replace Perry for season 23, presumably with Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie still on board. A fairly short list of possible contenders has emerged.

Temporary Judge Alanis Morissette Among Those Recommended to Take Katy Perry’s Place on ‘Idol’

Alanis Morissette, Luke Bryan and Ed Sheeran

ABC/Eric McCandlessAlanis Morissette and Ed Sheeran helped Luke Bryan judge “Idol” contestants in May 2023

In light of Perry’s upcoming departure, fans and media outlets have already been mulling possible replacements, with a handful of contenders coming up most frequently. Earning a reported $25 million per season, according to Forbes, her departure may leave room in ABC’s budget for another major star to take her place.

Music industry insiders at “American Songwriter” have suggested a short list of four candidates, starting with 90s hitmaker Alanis Morissette. She filled in alongside Ed Sheeran when Perry and Richie had to miss a live show in May 2023 in order to perform at King Charles’ coronation in England. Morissette drew high praise from viewers for her thoughtful critiques and helpful advice.

In a Reddit discussion thread about the fill-in judges, one person 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 likely contender to fill Perry’s shoes, American Songwriter surmised, is country superstar Carrie Underwood, who won the fourth season of “American Idol” in 2005 and returned as a mentor to the Top 5 in 2022, per Billboard. Though she would be the second country act on the panel next to Bryan, Underwood has been vocal about her love of rock music, even performing multiple concerts with Guns n’ Roses, and won a Grammy for her 2021 gospel album.

According to American Songwriter, Underwood recently wrapped up her extensive Diamonds & Rhinestones tour and is scheduled to end her Las Vegas residency in August 2024, just as “Idol” auditions typically begin filming.

The two other possible replacements American Songwriter suggested are past “Idol” judges: Paula Abdul and Jennifer Lopez. 

Abdul has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to younger stars looking up to the 80s pop princess and choreographer. For instance, Ariana Grande’s new “Yes…And?” music video pays homage to Abdul’s 1989 video for her hit song, “Cold Hearted.”

When Abdul expressed her gratitude to Grande on Instagram in January, the current pop star replied, “thank you for your brilliance and for inspiring me (and so many people) endlessly!”

Meanwhile, Lopez will release her ninth solo album, “This Is Me…Now” — her first in a decade — on February 16, but recently told “Entertainment Tonight” that it may be her last. Meanwhile, in her 2022 documentary, according to Hollywood Life, she talked about how important “Idol” was for her identity when her twins were young and her marriage to Marc Anthony was failing.

“At 42, movie roles were not knocking down my door,” Lopez said. “As I was returning to work, I felt like I didn’t know my value anymore. I was doing ‘American Idol.’ That was the first big job I did after I had the babies. And it was good for me at that time. People could see me for who I was and that changed everything.”

Fans Also Rooting for ‘Idol’ Alums to Take Over for Katy Perry

Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban

GettyHarry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban on FOX’s “American Idol” Finale in April 2016

Fans seem to be in-step with American Songwriter’s suggestions for a Perry replacement.

Assessing social media in the hours after Perry’s announcement, the U.S. Sun reported that Lopez was named most frequently by fans as their pick. And on the Heavy on American Idol Facebook page, fans have primarily shared their sadness about Perry’s impending departure, but those who have offered replacement ideas mentioned Underwood, Lopez and Abdul.

But Morissette keeps popping up in social media posts and chat rooms as a popular choice, too.

One fan on Instagram wrote, “@americanidol If katy will leave, then @alanis should replace her”

Meanwhile, Billboard issued a reader poll that listed several possibilities for fans to choose from: Lopez, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, a generic “Other,” and Nicki Minaj, who served as a judge on the show for one season. At the time of publication, Cyrus was leading that poll with nearly 30 percent of the vote, with “Other” and Lopez taking the second and third spots.

Since “Idol” first launched in 2002, it has featured a total of seven female judges including Perry. Original judge Abdul lasted the longest, for eight years, with songwriter/producer Kara DioGuardi, joining the cast during Abdul’s final season. She stayed on for two years, per People.

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres then joined DioGuardi, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson for one season in 2010. Pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez took over the middle chair during seasons 10 and 11, then returned for seasons 13 through 15. While she was gone, music icons Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj clashed during a widely-panned season 12.

When “Idol” relaunched and moved from FOX to ABC in 2018, Perry joined the cast alongside Bryan and Richie.