Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan will be kinder, gentler ‘American Idol’ judges

After nearly an 18-month hiatus since its “final” show last April on Fox, “American Idol” is coming back to television this spring, on ABC, and the new “Idol” crew has been traveling the country taping auditions – both with and without judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. But the triumvirate was complete in Hollywood, Calif. Thursday evening to kick off the first season of the new version of the former Fox reality giant with ABC’s corporate partner Disney announcing it will release the finalists’ album on its Hollywood Records label.

When asked which of the three would take the role of Simon Cowell, the trio immediately chimed in that none of them would.

“We’re artists, not record company executives or critics,” insisted Luke Bryan to Variety. “These 15- and 16 year-olds are still a couple of years away, but you can see their promise, the potential. We’re not there to discourage them. If we word it wrong, they may give up all up.”

26 PHOTOS
'American Idol' Season 4: Then and Now
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'American Idol' Season 4: Then and Now
The 'American Idol' cast gets wild at the Season 4 Top 12 Finalists Party. Some really puzzling fashion choices here -- even for 2005!

Carrie Underwood: THEN

Carrie Underwood: NOW

More than ten years after taking the 'Idol' crown, she's the bonafide queen of country music.

Jessica Sierra: THEN

Jessica Sierra: NOW

After long-fought battles with drug and alcohol abuse, Jessica was eventually sentenced to a year in rehab. She now has a child of her own and speaks to kids about the dangers of substance abuse.

Anwar Robinson: THEN

Anwar Robinson: NOW

The dreads are gone! He's a music educator and creative arts advocate.

Mikalah Gordon: THEN

Mikalah Gordon: NOW

She has a standing gig every night singing at Las Vegas' Cosmopolitan Hotel. A new web series based on her life premieres this year.

Constantine Maroulis: THEN

Constantine Maroulis: NOW

He's snagged a number of leading Broadway roles, including the title role in "Jekyll and Hyde."

Lindsey Cardinale: THEN

Lindsey Cardinale: NOW

She still makes and performs new music.

Anthony Fedorov: THEN

Anthony Fedorov: NOW

How's that for a makeover? He still makes music and is a proud father. 

Nadia Turner: THEN

Nadia Turner: NOW

Gorgeous!

Bo Bice: THEN

Bo Bice: NOW

Pretty crazy transformation! The rocker continues to make music and recently had a string of shows in Hawaii.

Vonzell Solomon: THEN

Vonzell Solomon: NOW

More like va-va-Vonzell!

Scott Savol: THEN

Scott Savol: NOW

He's mostly kept a low profile since the show.

Nikko Smith: THEN

Nikko Smith: NOW

Still killing the stage!

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Perry agreed, adding that they are “about giving constructive criticism.” Though she still admitted the acerbic Cowell is her favorite judge, she noted that the sensitive nature not only of the youth of contestants but of today’s cultural in general will be reflected in the show. “Young kids take things to heart. I can be sarcastic as all get out, and even a little snarky,” she said. “Like Simon, I’m also a truth-teller, a straight shooter. But at the end of the day, I’m not here to tell anyone they suck. It’s not about that.”

Richie noted that though the trio are judges, they are also producers, and that factors into how they will talk to the talent on the show. “Imagine I’m producing Diana Ross. I will tell her just enough truth to inspire her to give me more in the studio,” he explained.

Whether or not “American Idol” can recapture the zeitgeist with a new iteration in a world where any kid with an iPhone or laptop can upload his or her performance to YouTube and overnight turn into a viral sensation will remain to be seen. But perhaps because of new technology, the abundance of emerging artists is stronger than ever.

“The show is coming back at a perfect time,” insisted Perry. “There’s just too much choice out there. You don’t know who to focus on.”

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'American Idol' and 'The Voice' alums at CMA Awards 2017
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'American Idol' and 'The Voice' alums at CMA Awards 2017
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
51st Country Music Association Awards ? Arrivals - Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., 08/11/2017 - Lauren Alaina. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/FilmMagic)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer-songwriter Danielle Bradbery attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer Scotty McCreery attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Singer-songwriter Meghan Linsey attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: Musical artist Kellie Pickler attends the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
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Richie, who Perry has jokingly dubbed “the dad-slash-chaperson” of the group added that the show “is like a filter where only the strong survive.” He noted that if he had to go through the process “Idol” contestants embark upon with rounds of auditions and live shows, he “would have fainted on the spot. “I was so shy as a 15-year-old. I didn’t have the confidence to walk out on that stage and do what these kids do,” he shared.

Richie says that the “Idol” regimen is reminiscent of the heyday of Berry Gordy’s Motown assembly line, “but not quite as brutal. They wouldn’t invite you in the front door without a hint of something brilliant.”

Meanwhile, Bryan has been inspired by the audition process to up his own game. “We’ll tell these contestants
to give us all they’ve got, and then I find myself asking myself the same thing. When you hear that God has laid his hand on these people’s voices, it makes you want to go out and be a better artist yourself.”

“American Idol” premieres Mar. 11 on ABC.

38 PHOTOS
Original 'American Idol' judges together
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Original 'American Idol' judges together
The Judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson at FOX TV's 'American Idol', broadcast live from Television City in Los Angeles, Ca. Tuesday, July 16, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX*** Please Call For Usage ***
(Left to right) FOX's American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson pse peaceably at the FOX 2002 SummerTCA Tour at the Huntington Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, CA on Monday, July 22, 2002. Photo credit: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson at 'The Teen Choice Awards 2002' at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, Ca. Sunday, August 4, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images/FOX.
Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Justin Guarini, Paula Abdul, and Kelly Clarkson of American Idol backstage at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.
American Idol Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson on stage at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect.
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul & Randy Jackson (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul & Simon Cowell during 'American Idol' Season 1 Finale - Results Show - Arrivals at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 2447 -- Pictured: (l-r) American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 10, 2003 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell during 'American Idol' Season 2 Finale - Results Show at Universal Amphitheatre in Universial City, California, United States. (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: 'American Idol' Judges (L-R) Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul during the FOX Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 16, 2004 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 10: Idol judges Simon Cowell (L), Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson (R) arrive at Fox's celebration of Americn Idols Top 12 finalists at Pearl on March 10, 2004 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson during 'American Idol' Season 3 - Top 12 Finalists Party - Arrivals at Pearl in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Paula Abdul , Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson during The Lucky/Cargo Club - An Upfront Week Hospitality Suite - Day 3 at Le Parker Meridien in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell **EXCLUSIVE** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - APRIL 02: (L-R) Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul of American Idol accept their award for 'Favorite TV Show' onstage at the 18th Annual Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards at the UCLA Pauley Pavillion on April 2nd, 2005 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson during Nickelodeon's 18th Annual Kids Choice Awards - Press Room at Pauley Pavillion in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 20: Television host Ryan Seacrest poses with American Idol judges (L-R) Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 20, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, judges, with songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, and Ryan Seacrest, host (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, judges (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 24: Idol Judges Randy Jackson (L), Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell (R) pose at the 'American Idol' final performance show at the Kodak Theatre on May 24, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3077-- Pictured: (l-r) American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul during an interview on January 16, 2006 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) 'American Idol' Season 6 - Judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell *EXCLUSIVE* (Photo by FOX/WireImage for Fox)
Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: American Idol television personalities (L-R) Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell attend the 24th Annual William S. Paley television festival at the Directors Guild on March 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images)
Television personalities Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell arrive at the The 59th Primetime EMMY Awards TV Guide After Party at Les Deux on September 16, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 06: ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS*** American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell onstage during elimination from competition on American Idol Top 12 show, March 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by R Mickshaw/American Idol 2008/Getty Images for Fox)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 06: (L-R) Americian Idol personalities Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon Cowell arrive at the taping of Idol Gives Back held at the Kodak Theatre on April 6, 2008 in Hollywood, California. Idol Gives Back will air April 9, 2008 (7:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS*** (L-R) Judge Simon Cowell, judge Randy Jackson with socialite Kim Kardashian, sister Kourtney Kardashian, judge Paula Abdul and Kris Kardashian are seen in audience watching American Idol March 11, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The top 12 contestants perform in front of the American Idol judges on Fox. (Photo by R Mickshaw/American Idol 2008/Getty Images for Fox)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 06: (L-R) American Idol judge Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell onstage during the taping of Idol Gives Back held at the Kodak Theatre on April 6, 2008 in Hollywood, California. Idol Gives Back will air April 9, 2008 (7:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 26: (L-R) American Idol Judges Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson attend auditions for 'American Idol' season 8 at Chelsea Piers on August 26, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 3: ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS*** (L-R) Judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell speak on American Idol March 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The third 12 of the top 36 perform in front of the American Idol judges on Fox. (Photo by M Becker/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for Fox)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Season 1 judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell speak onstage during FOX's 'American Idol' Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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