Who will replace Katy Perry on American Idol? From Jennifer Lopez to Carrie Underwood, here’s who could take the job
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Who will replace Katy Perry on American Idol? From Jennifer Lopez to Carrie Underwood, here’s who could take the job

American Idol is on the verge of a major shake-up next year when it returns for a 23rd season without one of its leading stars.

Katy Perry announced last week that after seven seasons as a judge (including season 22), she would be stepping away from the role to pursue other projects and return to releasing new music.

While many fans are still reeling from the surprise news, it does beg the question – who could be brought on to step into the “Dark Horse” songstress’ shoes alongside Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie?

As season 22 is set to premiere tonight, February 18th, on ABC, here are our picks for the five stars who could capably step into the judge’s shoes, from past contestants to previous panelists…

Jennifer Lopez

If insider sources from the production are to be believed, the “On the Floor” singer is the top candidate to get the call to return to the hot seat, which would mark her sixth outing as a judge.

JLo first appeared as a judge during the show’s tenth season in 2011 and remained for the next, briefly departing in season 12, and then returning for season 13 and staying till the show’s cancellation after season 15.

On the heels of a comeback album (that could potentially be her last) and a thriving career as an actress, Jennifer’s return would be a welcome one for many fans of the show’s final years on FOX.

Carrie Underwood

What would really be new for the show, though, is having one of their previous contestants return as a permanent judge. While several have come back as guests and mentors, nothing beats the experience a former Idol could provide.

Our top pick for that would be country icon Carrie Underwood herself, who won the show’s fourth season back in 2005 and is still considered one of the best singers in Idol history (and definitely one of the most successful).

The “Before He Cheats” singer has frequently returned as a mentor on the show (most recently for season 20’s top five week), and has the success and clout to prove a worthy addition.

Jordin Sparks

Another Idol winner that would make for a fantastic new judge would be season six winner Jordin Sparks, still one of the most beloved champions from the show’s golden age.

With an album set for release this year, a positively reviewed appearance on season 31 of Dancing with the Stars, and an extensive back catalog of hits, the “No Air” singer has enough of a reason to come back.

However, it’s her open willingness to step into the role that lands her a spot here, as she tweeted out earlier this week: “Oh hiiii @AmericanIdol—I hear a seat opened up at the judges table! I’m putting my name in the hat!” and fans were instantly sold.

Alanis Morissette

While more left field of a choice than the others on this list, the Canadian alt-rock legend won quite a few fans of the show over during her appearance in season 21.

Alongside Ed Sheeran, Alanis was a guest judge and mentor during top eight week, and while only around for one episode, many viewers gushed over how much of a joy she was on the panel thanks to her years of useful experience and insightful critique.

With a back catalog consisting of one of the best-selling and most acclaimed albums of all time, plus several successful follow-ups to boot, plus some good will, we could definitely see the “You Oughta Know” hitmaker becoming a permanent addition to the panel.

Paula Abdul

If we’re talking returns, though, there’s really no one quite like the OG! From 2002 to 2009, for the show’s first eight seasons, Paula led the charge with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, turning the new competition into an American sensation.

While she parted with the show on unfriendly terms (thanks in part to controversial executive producer Nigel Lythgoe), in more recent years, she’s shown that her love for the show remains as strong, as do the love fans have for her.

With her most recent guest judging stint on season 21 being received warmly, maybe bringing back one of the show’s original superstars could take it back to the heights of the 2000s.

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