Paula Abdul Returns to ‘American Idol’ to Fill in for COVID-Stricken Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan American Idol Paula Abdul
ABC/Eric McCandless; Michael Becker/Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection

The American Idol panel of judges will look a bit different this week…but still very familiar to longtime fans of the series.

Paula Abdul, who judged the original Idol for eight seasons from 2002 to 2009 on Fox, will be guest judging the first live show of the season, ABC announced. The performer will be filling in for Luke Bryan, who announced on Twitter himself that he will be missing the April 12 episode due to testing positive for COVID.

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From young rocker Casey Bishop to the soulful Willie Spence, these singers brought their A-game.

“I’m sad to say I won’t be a part of tonight’s first live @AmericanIdol show,” he wrote. “I tested positive for COVID but I’m doing well and look forward to being back at it soon.”

Abdul will be joining the other regular judges, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, as the season inches closer to crowning a new winner. The April 12 episode will reveal the 10 contestants (from the Top 16) who are moving on following America’s overnight vote. The remaining six will then perform for a chance to claim one of the two remaining spots to fill out the Top 12.

Most recently, Abdul has been seen as a judge on The Masked Dancer, and previously she had a similar role on So You Think You Can Dance.

Speaking of returns, this news comes on the same day ABC announced that a special episode with “comeback contestants” airs on Monday, April 19. Ten finalists from Season 18 — Faith Becnel, Franklin Boone, Dwayne Crocker Jr., Cyniah Elise, Arthur Gunn, Aliana Jester, Louis Knight, Nick Merico, Makayla Phillips, and Olivia Ximines — will perform for the chance to earn one spot to round out Season 19’s Top 10, following a week-long vote.


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