'American Idol' Judge Luke Bryan Says He's Enjoying the Show 'Now More Than Ever'

With American Idol in its third season on ABC, Luke Bryan and his fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are finally hitting their stride. The Georgia native recently opened up about his experience on the reality TV talent show, revealing why he thinks this season might be his favorite one yet.

"You're able to watch good TV that you can sit down and watch with your family," Bryan reflected to PEOPLE. "You can cry, you can cheer these kids on. There's some kids from backgrounds where you just … pull for them. It's the microcosm of life, we get to see it walk in and you get to see what America's all about. They get to stand in front of us and sing. And year three, I'm enjoying it now more than ever. I feel like, with the show, it seems like we're catching a good stride, and I'm just excited to be a part of it."

Bryan is especially grateful to share the judges' panel once again with Perry and Richie, who have grown with him in their role over the last few years.

"We all know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we know how to have fun with one another," Bryan said. "We're all artists, and we have a good idea of how to treat these kids when we say 'Yes' and send them to Hollywood, and when we say 'No.' I think that here, in year three, our identities as judges are at another level."

Host Ryan Seacrest has been with the show since Kelly Clarkson won the inaugural season in 2002, and is grateful to have such a strong cast, including mentor Bobby Bones, for this season on ABC.

"When Ryan comes up to me, Lionel and Katy, he goes, 'Guys, thank y'all for continuing the brand,'" Bryan said. "Ryan has said this multiple times. He is Ryan Seacrest because when Idol boomed, it took his career to another level. So Idol has a very special place in Ryan's heart, and the brand is very important to him. When he comes in and compliments me, Lionel and Katy on what we're doing, it's very flattering.

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"And then adding Bobby Bones in, too, is a fun element," he added. "He's out there and getting to know the kids. He's almost like their mini-psychologist. Bobby's doing great in that role. It's really fun watching the show spread its wings in a different way."

Photo Credit: Getty / Scott Dudelson