4 Former ‘American Idol’ Judges, Guest Judges, and Mentors Who Could Likely Replace Katy Perry

After seven seasons as a judge on American Idol, Katy Perry will take her leave from the show after season 22. Perry revealed her departure from AI on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and said that she was leaving the show to pursue other opportunities, including making new music.

“I love ‘Idol’ so much,” said Perry. “It’s connected me with the heart of America, but I feel like I need to go out and feel that pulse to my own beat.” Perry added,  “They know I have some things planned for this year. … They figured I’ve been in the studio for a while, so they figured something is up.”

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Who will replace Perry for season 23 is still in question. “Let’s just say I’m creating space for my new wingspan,” teased Perry when asked about a possible replacement.

Along with artists who have been suggested by viewers as Perry’s replacement, there has been a long line of female guest mentors and those who already tested the waters as a guest judge that could make a comeback.

In 2010, Avril Lavigne served as a guest judge during season nine auditions of American Idol alongside Perry, nearly a decade before she joined the show in 2018 for season 16. That same season, Shania Twain, Mary J. Blige, Victoria Beckham, and Kristin Chenoweth also appeared as guest judges.

Throughout the 21 seasons of American Idol, a long line of former female judges, including Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres, could also be under consideration.

Though Perry’s time is nearly up, several artists have already judged or served as guest judges or been suggested by viewers as her suitable replacement. Here’s a look at four artists who could likely replace Perry for season 23 of American Idol.

1. Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette (Photo: Jo Hale/Getty Images)

At the start of season 21in March 2023, American Idol viewers slammed Katy Perry on social media and later called for her replacement after viewers called the “Firework” singer’s comments to several contestants rude or offensive.

Though the show has had its share of harsh judges in the past with the curmudgeonly critiques by original judge Simon Cowell, and brutally honest feedback from Randy Jackson, the controversy around Perry began during the auditions and her interaction with contestant Sara Beth Liebe. Perry pretended to faint and couldn’t believe that 25-year-old Liebe was a mother of three. Liebe said, “If Katy lays on the table, I think I’m going to pass out.” Perry responded, “Honey, you’ve been laying on the table too much.” Following her comments, some viewers accused Perry of “mom-shaming” the contestant, who ultimately left the competition to return to her family.

That season, Perry was also booed for telling contestant Nutsa to tone down her flashy performances and told viewers to vote for their favorite after singer We Ani performed, and didn’t give any feedback or advice to the singer.

By May of 2023, Alanis Morissette and Ed Sheeran appeared on American Idol as guest judges and mentors for the top eight contestants, replacing Perry and Richie, who were both in London performing at the coronation concert for King Charles III. Soon after, fans started suggesting that Morissette should Perry. Following their appearance as guest judges, some fans even suggested Sheeran also replace Richie.

2. Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood (Catherine Powell/Getty Images for CMT)

After winning season four of American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood returned to the show in 2022, not as a guest judge, but as a mentor for the top five contestants. “Well, here’s a dream come true, read an American Idol post. “Who better to help our hopefuls earn a place in the grand finale?”

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Though Underwood has been consumed by her Denim & Rhinestones Tour, 2022-2023, and her Reflection residency in Las Vegas, which started in 2021, there may be some room for her to rejoin AI in 2024 through 2025.

Unlike former guest judge Shania Twain—whose Vegas residency kicks off May 2024 and will run through February of 2025—which removes her from the running as a replacement due to scheduling—Underwood’s residency is set to wrap up August 2024, which would leave room for her to potentially start filming season 23 of Idol.

3. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for ELLE)

Former judge Mariah Carey said she would never return to AI after her on and off-screen quarrels with then-fellow judge Nicki Minaj, but Jennifer Lopez was incredibly grateful for her time on the show. Lopez, who joined as a judge during season 10 in 2011, said American Idol changed everything for her during a difficult time, after he gave birth to her twins Emme and Max and following her divorce from Marc Anthony.

“At 42, movie roles were not knocking down my door,” said Lopez. “As I was returning to work, I felt like I didn’t know my value anymore. I was doing American Idol. That was the first big job I did after I had the babies. And it was good for me at that time. People could see me for who I was and that changed everything.”

Lopez has revealed a ninth solo album This Is Me… Now for release in early 2024, stayed on as a judge for season 11 then returned for seasons 13 through 15.

4. Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul (Photo: Steven Simione/FilmMagic)

Season 23 could take American Idol back to where it all started, with one of the three original judges, Paula Abdul. Though Abdul may be more of a wildcard since she left AI after eight seasons in 2009, she did return as a guest judge in 2021 to replace Luke Bryan who was out sick.

In 2023, Abdul returned with fellow original coach Randy Jackson, who left AI in 2013, for the 20th anniversary of the show.

“I would say to Simon [Cowell], ‘You know the show ended when I left,'” said Abdul in 2016. “He’d say, ‘Oh, shut up.’ But it’s true.”

Photo: Sonia Recchia/Getty Images

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