Luke Bryan Will Return to ‘American Idol’ for Season 20
Luke Bryan will return to American Idol when Season 20 begins on ABC. In fact, the full panel of judges and host Ryan Seacrest are set to return to the TV singing competition.
Good Morning America confirmed on Tuesday morning (Aug. 3) that Bryan, Seacrest, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry are all coming back for a fifth consecutive year. The panel was formed for Season 16 in 2018, although Seacrest has been with the franchise since Season 1, when the show aired on Fox. Country radio DJ Bobby Bones has also been a part of American Idol as a mentor for four seasons, but his status was not addressed in the announcement.
Season 20 auditions will begin virtually this week, with the start date for Season 20 still TBD. Historically, the show has started in the winter: Season 19 of American Idol premiered on Valentine's Day 2021.
With Bryan at the judges' table, country music has been represented well throughout the competition. Two of the last four winners — Laine Hardy (Season 17) and Chayce Beckham (Season 19) — have leaned toward country. The biggest star from the franchise over the last decade may have actually come in third, however: Gabby Barrett has scored two huge crossover hits with "I Hope" and "The Good Ones" and become a regular contender for country music's biggest awards.
American Idol's 2021 season of the show was dogged by scandal involving contestants. Cecil Ray Baker was arrested in April and charged with burglary, and Season 18 contestant Doug Kiker was arrested, too, on misdemeanor domestic violence charges in May. Season 19 Top 5 finalist Caleb Kennedy dropped out of the show after a video of him sitting next to someone in a white hood surfaced on social media, and Season 18 finalist Arthur Gunn returned to secure a spot in the finals, but mysteriously disappeared hours before he was set to perform.
To date, Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery remain country music's most popular American Idol winners, although Season 1 champion Kelly Clarkson has dabbled in country music. Season 15 winner Trent Harmon released one major-label record after winning, but did not score a hit on country radio.
See Country Stars On American Idol, Then + Now: