Music News

'American Idol' returns: New mom Katy Perry will judge with "compassion," Lionel's upset he can't hug everyone

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ABC/Brian Bowen Smith

American Idol returns to ABC Sunday, and aside from the fact that the judges and contestants are back in the studio, something else has changed: Katy Perry is now a mom. And she says it’s definitely affecting how she’s judging.

“A lot of my fans have called me ‘mom’ for years — and then I truly became a mother and I got the memo,” Katy explains. “The memo is love and it’s unconditional. And so with that approach…I now get to judge more from a heart-centered place and through love, and kinda, just, compassion a bit.”

That means Katy will try to tone down what she describes as her “wicked sense of humor,” and try not to be “too dark, too catty or too witty.”

“The love that I get from being a mother, I can now bring to every aspect of my life,” she notes. “I can bring it to my music. I can bring it to American Idol. It’s just kind of oozing out of me and it feels really great.”

But despite the love oozing everywhere, judge Lionel Richie says he’s upset that socially-distancing rules make it impossible for him to hug the contestants this season.

“I have to be very guarded, because there’s a spontaneous, emotional human thing that happens…I’m a dad…and you see a kid struggling,” he tells ABC Audio. “And…it’s about just putting your arm around them, looking ’em in the face and giving them a life lesson talk.”

“We are mom and dad to them. We are the encouragement,” he adds. “So I’m going to miss that this year — because I don’t quite know how to maneuver there yet without violating every rule that ABC has given me!”  

American Idol airs 8 p.m. ET Sunday night.

By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.