'American Idol' Judges Reveal Changes They Want for Season 7

Season 6 of American Idol on ABC—season 21 overall—just wrapped up last night with Hawaiian crooner Iam Tongi being named the American Idol for 2023. And it was a decision that made the judges happy.

“Iam’s audition was probably the highlight of my year, because it just set the tone for a lot of good vibes, a lot of good energy,” judge Luke Bryan said in an interview, including Parade and a small group of reporters, following the show. “And it was a real moment, and I think more than ever America wants to see reality, they want to see real things going on. I think we’re giving them a dose of good emotions, good stories and the American dream.”

In other happy American Idol news, the singing competition was picked up for another season on ABC, but without an announcement of whether the three judges—Luke, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry—would be returning.

Related: And the Winner of American Idol 2023 Is...

That said, the trio seem to have such a positive relationship that it would be a surprise if they weren’t part of that package.

“When you get three knuckleheads that have careers solid in their own right, getting a chance to get our egos out of the way, where we just allow the kids to shine, and it’s not about us per se, is the best,” Lionel said. “What I’m loving the most is that I can actually play with this superstar [Luke] and that other superstar [Katy], and we all don’t take it personal, and that’s what makes the element work for the kids. Because the more honest we can be with them and ourselves, they get to see how we really want them to act.”

With the fact in mind that the judges love the show, and that they enjoy working together, Parade asked them what they would like to change or not change for season 7.

For Katy, it wasn’t so much doing anything different, but the hope for a continuation of the type of talent that they have attracted these past few seasons.

She said, “I’m just so grateful that real musicians, real artists are trusting us, are giving us a shot again. This is not a karaoke show, it’s not a show about the judges. We are one little part in it, but this is ultimately about people’s stories and sounds and voices that need to be heard. And these stories make up the fabric of America, so I would like to encourage and invite all serious artists and songwriters to audition for American Idol, to have the best season yet.”

And Lionel added that he was also happy about the quality of the mentors they attracted this season, which included former Idol judge Keith Urban, Allen Stone, Noah Cyrus, Alanis Morisette, as well as former Idol winners and runners-up Adam Lambert, Clay Aiken, David Archuleta, Justin Guarini, Phillip Phillips, Jordin Sparks and Catie Turner.

Related: Why American Idol Mentor Allen Stone Is ‘Stoked’ at the ‘Firepower’ of Talent This Season (Exclusive)

“The closer these kids can get to successful artists, the better it is for them, and [it’s good for the artists] to give back a little bit,” Lionel said.

And Katy added, “And they showed up, didn’t they? This season they really showed up. Some amazing, incredible artists were even watching along— Bon Jovi or Coldplay sent messages. They’re all tuning in.”

As for Luke, it’s all about evolution, and keeping up with the times and what they learn from each season.

“We live through things, and we learn things,” he said. “Like this year, we had a Top 26, which we’ve never had. Next year, we may not have that. The core of the show is such a special thing, but we’ll always evolve. Even when you look at Lionel and Katy going to the coronation and bringing Ed [Sheeran] and Alanis [Morrissette] in, it may be fun to have two extra judges come in one week. But the main thing is always evolving with the times. I think it’s important for me, Lionel, and Katy to sit up there and speak our heart.”

And keeping with the evolution theme, Lionel added, “I think the most important part of what we do is when the talent comes through the door. So, it won’t be the same as last year because we adapt to who’s coming in. This year was on steroids. If this is 21, I can’t even imagine where we’re going next.”

American Idol season 7 of ABC will return in 2024.

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