“I’m sad to say I won’t be a part of tonight’s first live @AmericanIdol show,” the country star, 44, tweeted on Monday, April 12. “I tested positive for COVID but I’m doing well and look forward to being back at it soon.”
ABC confirmed the news via Instagram, with a post announcing that original Idol judge Paula Abdul will step in for the “One Margarita” singer. “Luke will be missed at our first #AmericanIdol LIVE show tonight, but he is resting now in quarantine at home and we’re wishing him a speedy recovery,” read a statement on the official American Idol account. “We’re so excited to announce @paulaabdul will be stepping in as a guest judge to join Lionel Richie and Katy Perry as we get closer to crowning a new winner!”
The “Straight Up” singer, 58, served as a judge for the first eight seasons of the show from 2002 to 2009, when it still aired on Fox. Earlier this year, she was a panelist on The Masked Dancer with Ken Jeong, Brian Austin Green and Ashley Tisdale.
For his part, Bryan has been an Idol judge alongside Perry, 36, and Richie, 71, since ABC revived the show in 2018. He recently said that one of the hardest parts of the job is having to say goodbye to the contestants. “Telling people no is … you never really get used to it,” he told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month. “We’re able to encourage these kids to not let us be the reason that they would ever give up on their music dreams. … I want everybody to be happy, I don’t want to upset anybody and hurt people’s feelings — it’s just kinda my nature — but sometimes you just have to tell the truth and tell them that wasn’t their best performance. They need to hear that. but I think we’ve done a great job at being really constructive with it.”
“She’s coming in, and she’s been up all night, and somedays I would look at her, and she would go, ‘Oh my god, you’ve got to help me through this day. I may mentally check out!'” he told CMT’s Cody Alan in March. “Then, she can look at me when I have mentally checked out, and we can look at Lionel and everybody. We are a fun team. You know? We are like a football team out there.”
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.