Paula Abdul Has Backhanded Compliment for Simon Cowell in 'American Idol' Return

Paula Abdul returned to the American Idol judging table for the first time since she left the singing competition more than a decade ago, and she didn't hesitate to spill some love for one of her former co-judges. Filling in for Luke Bryan, who had to sit out Monday after testing positive for COVID-19, Abdul offered up a humorous comment for Simon Cowell. The two former co-judges were known for their drastically different demeanors, with Cowell typically handing down harsh criticism while Abdul was often viewed as the "nice" judge.

As the episode kicked off, Abdul said it was "nostalgic" to return to the series joking with host Ryan Seacrest, who hosted the original Idol and currently hosts the reboot, "I feel like I'm visiting my little brother on the show that we started with our other brother Randy… and, of course, our grandfather Simon [Cowell]." After an airing of some throwback photos to her time on the singing competition, Abdul had a sort of reunion with Randy Jackson, who said, "it feels like old times, right?" Abdul agreed before going on to give her hilarious backhanded comment to Cowell, stating, "we're just missing the STD." As the comment ignited a flurry of reaction on social media, Abdul joked that "STD" stood for "super, talented... debonair."

Monday night's episode proved to be a major one for the singing competition for more reasons than just Abdul's return to the judge's table. At the top of the episode, Seacrest announced contestant Wyatt Pike "had to drop out." Pike had been a promising star on the series, and during his final pre-taped performance just a day prior, had earned major praise from judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. On Monday, no explanation was given for Pike's sudden exit, though an Idol rep said it was due to "personal reasons," something the Utah native confirmed himself when breaking his silence Wednesday night.

"I had to leave the [American Idol] competition for personal reasons but am so thankful I get to play music for the rest of my life," he wrote in an Instagram post. "Fellow contestants - miss you all, good luck! Thank you to everyone for your support… do stick around for more musical things soon!"

While Pike may be out of the competition, there are still plenty of singers left in the competition, with the Top 12 having officially been named. New episodes of American Idol air Sundays and Mondays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET. The episodes can also be watched for free on FuboTV or on Hulu With Live TV with a free trial.

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