‘American Idol’ Season 20: Which Judges Will Be Returning?

American Idol will celebrate a milestone upon its return to ABC. The granddaddy of singing talent shows promises a season unlike any other and will pay homage to its past as it celebrates its 20th season on television. This remarkable achievement will be celebrated all season long. Past favorites will return to assist the latest batch of performers throughout their journey toward becoming the newest American Idol. However, not all of the current cast will be along for the ride. Will judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan be returning to the show for this anniversary season? Who has already said their goodbyes? Here’s the latest news.

American Idol judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan pose with Ryan Seacrest and mentor Bobby Bones in 2018.
Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Ryan Seacrest, and Bobby Bones | Eliza Morse/ABC via Getty Images

‘American Idol’ has helped jump-start the careers of some of the biggest entertainers in the business

Among the winners and former contestants of American Idol are Oscar and Grammy Award winners, Broadway stars, and former political candidates.

Since winning season 1 in 2002, Kelly Clarkson has won three Grammy Awards, had multiple No. 1 hits, became a judge on NBC’s The Voice, and hosted her daytime talk show since Sept. 2019.

Carrie Underwood catapulted into country music superstardom since winning season 4 of the competition series. She has taken home seven gramophones and has sold more than 66 million albums.

Adam Lambert may have been a runner-up in season 8, but he has since gone on to tour as the lead singer of the legendary rock band Queen.

Jennifer Hudson placed 7th during season 3. However, she has since gone on to win an Academy Award for Dreamgirls and recently starred as Aretha Franklin in the film Respect, after being handpicked by the legendary vocalist for the role. She is nominated for a 2022 SAG award for her performance.

Runner-up of season 2, Clay Aiken, had a successful recording career, co-wrote a bestselling memoir, appeared on Broadway, and ran for Congress in 2014.

Other notable American Idol alums are The Color Purple star Fantasia, Chris Daughtry, Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Kellie Pickler, David Archuleta, Scott McCreery, and Ruben Studdard.

Which ‘American Idol’ judges will be returning for season 20?

In a press release touting the return of American Idol, Executive Producer and Showrunner Meghan Wolflick announced the following judges would return.

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,” Wolflick said.

“The chemistry and passion Katy, Luke, Lionel, and Ryan bring are 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.”

“We are thrilled that Katy, Lionel, Luke, and Ryan will be back to help discover our next American Idol,” said Executive Producer Eli Holzman. “This dream team has selected and guided some of the most talented ‘Idol’ contestants in the history of the series, and we can’t wait to see who they’ll find next.”

This cast member has said his final goodbye

Bobby Bones on the set of American Idol.
Bobby Bones | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

For four seasons, radio personality Bobby Bones has been a mentor to the competitors. However, he will not be returning for the show’s 20th season.

Parade Magazine reported Bones would not return this season due to a conflict with another show.

He subsequently wrote on his Instagram story, “Some of you noticed I’m not in the Idol promos this season. My contract [with] my new network won’t let me do another show right now. Love Idol, btw. It was a great four years.”

American Idol returns to ABC beginning Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. EST.

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