Luke Bryan Will Return to ‘American Idol’ for Season 20
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. Mentor Bobby Bones has also been a part of American Idol for four seasons. His status was not addressed in the announcement.
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 have leaned toward country: Laine Hardy (Season 17) and Chayce Beckham (Season 19). The biggest star from the franchise over the last decade may have actually come in third. 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.
The 2021 season of the show was dogged by scandal involving contestants. Cecil Ray Baker was arrested in April and charged with burglary. Season 18 contestant Doug Kiker was arrested 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. Also 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 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: