Paula Abdul Is Returning to American Idol While Luke Bryan Recovers From COVID-19

While Luke Bryan rests and recovers from COVID, Paula Abdul will return to American Idol for the first time since its move to ABC.

By Lauren Piester Apr 12, 2021 5:40 PMTags
Watch: "American Idol" Judges Thank the People for PCAs Nom

There's some good news and some bad news, American Idol fans. 

The bad news is that Luke Bryan has tested positive for COVID-19 and won't be able to participate in the live shows that begin tonight. The good news, however, is that he is currently doing well and original judge Paula Abdul is returning in his place while he recovers at home. 

Luke tweeted the news himself on Monday, April 12.

"I'm sad to say I won't be a part of tonight's first live American Idol show," he wrote. "I tested positive for COVID but I'm doing well and look forward to being back at it soon." 

This is the first time that Paula will have appeared on Idol since it moved to ABC in 2018. Paula was a judge from the series' premiere in 2002 until 2009, and only made three appearances on the reality juggernaut before it ended on Fox in 2016. Tonight, she'll join Lionel Richie and Katy Perry at the judge's desk as the top 12 are revealed. 

2021 TV Premiere Dates

The show released a statement on Instagram

"Luke will be missed at our first American Idol LIVE show tonight, but he is resting now in quarantine at home and we're wishing him a speedy recovery," the post reads. "We're so excited to announce Paula Abdul will be stepping in as a guest judge to join Lionel Richie and Katy Perry as we get closer to crowning a new winner!"


After Sunday's episode, viewers were given the chance to vote after the top 16 performed. Ten will move on automatically after the vote, the remaining six will perform live for the judges, who will then decide which two singers get those final two spots. So no pressure for Paula's big Idol return!

Live shows begin Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.