American Idol fans, it's time to officially meet your season 13 judging panel!
Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez are set to join returning judge Keith Urban for the reality hit's new season, Fox officially announced on Tuesday after months of hesitation and speculation. And that wasn't the only big Idol news the network confirmed: Former judge Randy Jackson is officially set to return as the in-house mentor. Welcome back to the dawg house, Jackson!
"I have always been a huge fan of American Idol and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show," Connick said in a statement. "And I am honored that they've asked me to be a judge this season. As an entertainer, I am truly excited to bring my perspective to American Idol, and to help emerging performers find their way."
Jackson, who announced his resignation as an Idol judge back in May, replaces music producer Jimmy Iovine as the contestant's in-house mentor. "Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all," Jackson said of his return. "Season 1-3 is the place to be. The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America."
E! News exclusively reported Jackson's decision to leave American Idol as a judge after 12 seasons. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry," he said in a statement. "It's been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures."
We're happy to see that you couldn't stay away!
Urban, who is returning for his second season on the panel, added, "New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!"
E! News was the first to report that Connick would be joining the American Idol judging panel, as well as Lopez's return to the series after her beau Casper Smart confirmed the news to us. "#IDOL2014TheRemix," Lopez simply tweeted of her return. "See ya soon."
"American Idol has always been about discovering the next singing superstar, and next season our judging panel will deliver a most impressive combination of talent, wisdom and personality to do just that: Jennifer Lopez, the triple-threat global superstar who loves Idol and whom Idol fans love," Fox president Kevin Reilly said. "Harry Connick, Jr., a bona-fide musical genius and fantastic Idol mentor whose honesty and expertise can help turn these hopefuls into stars; Keith Urban, a multi-Grammy-winning artist who was such a positive force on the show last season. We are also very excited to have our friend Randy Jackson now in a new role as mentor, and the captain of our team–the heart and soul of Idol–Ryan Seacrest returning as host."
American Idol returns for its 13th season in January 2014.
Are you excited to see Connick join the judging panel? Do you think Jackson will make a good mentor? Sound off in the comments!