‘American Idol’ Judges on Being ‘Live & in Living Color’ for the New Season (VIDEO)

Contestants, thanks to new COVID protocols, will be live and in person to American Idol when it returns on Sunday, February 14 at 8/7c, and the judges are thrilled.

“There is nothing like live and in living color,” says judge Lionel Richie in this exclusive video, and fellow judge Luke Bryan agrees. “It’s really, really critical to be able to be in the room with a singer and feel the star power,” he says.

Being in the same room as people singing, adds judge Katy Perry, “has been incredibly magical.”

Claudia Conway Auditions for 'American Idol's New Season (VIDEO)See Also

Claudia Conway Auditions for 'American Idol's New Season (VIDEO)

'Everyone thinks that this is a publicity stunt ... but no, music is my passion,' the social media star said on TikTok after the news broke.

Also back is host Ryan Seacrest, who says he expects that the audience will notice the difference as well. “The fact that we get to see the contestants and feel the contestants’ energy — that will bring the spirit and the life back to American Idol that people look for and know it for,” he says.

Lionel Richie Katy Perry Luke Bryan American Idol 2021 Judges

ABC/John Fleenor

Watch the video above to hear more about the coming season, and to see sneak peeks of contestants from the premiere.

American Idol, Season Premiere, Sunday, February 14, 8/7c, ABC