American Idol has confirmed its judging panel for the upcoming season of the singing competition show, with Good Morning America announcing on Wednesday, Aug. 3 that judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie will all return. While the show historically kicks off in the winter, it is said to return in the spring of 2022, according to Variety. Additionally, Ryan Seacrest will return as host.
This will be Bryan, Perry and Richie's fifth season as judges after the trio was brought on for the reboot of the competition show. American Idol originally began on Fox in 2002 before ending in 2016 and was revived two years later on ABC. Seacrest has served as host since the show's first season. Auditions for the new season, the fifth on ABC and Idol's 20th overall, will begin on Friday, Aug. 6 with video submissions and at-home auditions. Hopefuls can to go the official website to find out more.
The past two seasons of American Idol have been affected by the pandemic, and Bryan told PEOPLE earlier this year that the most difficult part for him was not being able to hug the contestants. "The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19," he said. "One tricky thing is a lot of times during the audition process, contestants will get very, very emotional and it will be an emotional situation for them. The fact that me and Lionel and Katy can't walk out there and do the human element — hug and show support and love, is very, very tough."
"I think that's one thing you'll see as a viewer of me and Lionel and Katy," the country star continued. "When someone is hurting and they're emotional, you want to console them and hug them and love on them to help them through. The fact that sometimes we can't go put our arms around them is pretty heartbreaking."
The show's most recent season saw 24-year-old Chayce Beckham crowned as the winner. "American Idol is still the original music show that genuinely creates superstars and continues to evolve to allow true artists to succeed in this unique business," executive producer and showrunner Megan Wolflick said in a statement. "The chemistry and passion Katy, Luke, Lionel and Ryan bring is second to none. We couldn't be more ecstatic that they are returning for this iconic 20th season in search of the freshest new talent that this nation has to offer."
"Luke, Katy, Lionel and Ryan are music and industry icons that have become synonymous with Idol on ABC," added Rob Mills, executive vice president, Unscripted and Alternative Entertainment, Walt Disney Television. "Their star power is unmatched, and their support is a gift to our contestants that have deeply benefited from their wisdom over the past four seasons—and they're ready to do it again. As we begin a momentous season, I think it's safe to say this dream team has officially cemented their legacy on Idol."