The legendary R&B singer, songwriter, and producer will sit alongside pop star Katy Perry and country crooner Luke Bryan for the reboot of the competitive series. With longtime host Ryan Seacrest already locked and loaded to return as host, this means Idol is back on schedule to make its return as planned.
“Luke and Lionel are the perfect additions to round out our panel of judges for American Idol on ABC,” said Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment, according to Variety. Dungey continued, “In their respective genres of music, both Luke and Lionel possess insurmountable popularity and award-winning talent that are undeniable, and we are lucky that they will help in paving the way for hopefuls pursuing their dreams on our stage.”
Not to mention the two men along with Perry will surely offer a variety of perspectives (read: we at least hope to see some entertaining banter happen between those three judging chairs, guys).
American Idol’s last season aired in April 2016, with Trent Harmon winning first place in the finale. Later, that December, Harmon released a self-titled EP. Since first airing 15 years ago this month, many have questioned whether the series’ relevance in the digital music age. Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood are some of the franchises most notable stars. Ratings dropped in more recent years.
As Variety points out, season 16 was a beast to get off the ground, due to its costly cache of celebrities: Perry signed on with a $25 million dollar deal, with Seacrest’s deal giving him $15 million as a host. This reportedly left less than $10 million dollars on deck for talent.