Paula Abdul is stepping in to fill Luke Bryan's seat at the judge's table on Monday night's episode of American Idol, and she couldn't be any more excited to be returning to the singing competition. Ahead of her return, the original Idol host had a sweet message for Bryan, who is currently quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19.
Shortly after Bryan announced he would be missing out on the first live audience performances after contracting the virus, and after the official Idol accounts announced she would be guest judging in his place, Abdul took to Twitter to offer some kind words. Although ecstatic to be returning, Abdul said, "we'll miss you," tagging Bryan in the tweet. She went to express some gratitude for Bryan "trusting me with your judge's seat!" Showing her excitement for her big return, she shared the tweet with the hashtag "[Paula's Back]," also sharing a separate tweet teasing her return.
Abdul is part of Idol history, having been one of the three original judges during the competition's original run on Fox. Oftentimes viewed as the nice judge, Abdul was seated alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson upon the show's premiere back in 2000, and she remained a judge for several years before eventually leaving in 2009. She was replaced with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who left a year later. In the years since her departure, Abdul has returned to the series, though her Monday night appearance will mark the first time she has acted as judge since 2009.
Abdul, however, will not be the only person returning Monday night. During Monday’s episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan, Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed the show would be welcoming back 10 finalists from Season 18, which aired last spring, with one of them advancing into Season 19's top 10. Speaking with Billboard, Idol executive producer and showrunner Trish Kahane shared they believed last year's contestants "deserved to have that experience" of performing on stage in front of a live audience after the pandemic forced live shows to happen remotely from their homes.
You can catch the all-new episode of American Idol, featuring Abdul returning as judge, when it airs Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. American Idol can be watched for free on FuboTV or on Hulu With Live TV with a free trial.