“American Idol” judges of the past and present reunited last night in an epic photo for the show’s 20th-anniversary reunion.
Back in 2002, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul were the faces of the franchise during its first season. Jackson and Abdul would go onto to judge eight seasons, while Cowell would leave after Season 9. “American Idol” has seen its fair share of new judges since then, but the most recent batch includes Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie, and Luke Bryan.
With the exception of Cowell, the above judges all met up last night for the “American Idol” reunion episode. They took an awesome photo together that Bryan ended up sharing on Twitter. In the first photo, we see host Ryan Seacrest along with Ritchie, Abdul, Perry, Jackson, and Bryan. The second photo showcases several alumni who came back to perform incredible duets for the reunion.
“Just a small portion of the #AmericanIdol family. West Coast, tune in to the 20-year #IdolReunion now!” Bryan captioned his post.
According to The Daily Mail, the reunion especially meant a lot to Paula Abdul. After sharing a hug with the new “American Idol” judges, Abdul shared what it was like to belong to the show’s legacy.
“Well, I’m most proud, most humbled by having an experience of a lifetime and being able to see it continue to grow and do well,” Abdul shared. “And to see… like, I’m crying seeing all the contestants, who are like my babies. Babies! Babies! It’s beautiful.”
This wouldn’t be the last time Abdul shed a tear during the reunion. She also got emotional during Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard’s performance. “Know what’s crazy? I remember it like it was yesterday. You walk into the room to audition. Oh, my God. This is like…”
“Are you crying, Paula?” Katy Perry asked. Abdul replied, “I’m trying not to.”
Aside From the Judges, These Other ‘American Idol’ Alum Joined the Reunion
Last night’s “American Idol” episode was full of nostalgia, especially for fans who’ve watched it since the beginning. While big-time winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood didn’t participate, fans did get to see Justin Guarini, the runner-up from Season 1.
Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard also appeared, performing with Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks. The two nailed a rendition of George Michael and Aretha Franklin’s “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.”
Fellow performers included David Cook and Kris Allen, the winners of Season 7 and 8, respectively. Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery also performed alongside runner-up Lauren Alaina. Then we saw Season 19 winner Willie Spence and alum Grace Kintsler. From Season 16, Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson sang together.
And finally, Season 17 winner Laine Hardy and alum Laci Kaye Boot performed. This reunion episode was recorded in early April, a few weeks before Hardy would be arrested for allegedly planting a listening device in his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room.