American Idol is coming back for a brand new season this spring. ABC announced Thursday that Season 20 of the singing competition – the fifth on its network- will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 27. Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie and host Ryan Seacrest are all returning this season as they scour the country for the next singing superstar.
The 2022 season auditions kicked off in August as the judges began their cross-country talent search. "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," said executive producer and showrunner Megan Wolflick in a statement this August. "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."
Season 19 of Idol, won by Chayce Beckham, was slightly different than past years, as there was no audience in compliance with COVID-19 safety procedures. It's unclear how Season 20 will operate, but Bryan told PEOPLE ahead of last season that it was difficult to keep his distance from the singers of Season 19.
"The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19," he said in February. "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," he 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." But despite the restrictions, Bryan said the show will still "look and feel the same." American Idol Season 20 premieres Sunday, Feb, 27 on ABC.