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‘American Idol’ season 20: Everything you need to know about ABC’s singing competition

American Idol
(Image credit: ABC)

Warm up your vocal chords America, because there will be an American Idol season 20. The popular singing competition has gotten the greenlight for its fifth season on ABC — after originally airing on Fox.

The most recent season of American Idol premiered in February, with Chayce Beckham being voted as the winner over Grace Kintsler and Willie Spence. So who will join Beckham and past winners that include Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips and more? We’ll have to wait and see, but here is what we do know about American Idol season 20.

When will ‘American Idol’ season 20 premiere?

ABC renewed American Idol a couple of weeks before it aired the finale for season 19, but of course that was too far out to give any specifics on when season 20 would be ready to go, but it is widely assumed that the show will have an early 2022 release date, as it has for its entire run on ABC.

What we do know is that American Idol is already accepting applications for live virtual auditions across all 50 states, which Idol hopefuls can find more information about on ABC’s website. Auditions for individual states will be held on specific dates, with the earliest taking place on Aug. 6 and going through Sept. 8.

Who is the ‘American Idol’ host?

Ryan Seacrest has been the host of American Idol since the very beginning (he actually had a co-host for the first season, Brian Dunkleman, remember?). While it would be weird to imagine a season of American Idol without Seacrest, when the renewal for season 20 was given it was not confirmed that he would be back. However, it is widely believed that he will return.

The same goes for another one of American Idol’s key figures, in-house mentor Bobby Bones. Bones has been a full-time mentor since season 17 after appearing as a guest mentor in ABC’s first season broadcasting American Idol.

Who are the ‘American Idol’ judges?

Joining Seacrest and Bones with the wait-and-see designation are the judging team of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. The trio have been together since season 16 debuted on ABC, but they also were not confirmed to return when American Idol was renewed.

It may just be a technicality, however. In an interview with Hollywood Life, Perry expressed how much she and her fellow hosts love the job of being judges, but she never definitively said that they would be back for season 20 (or season five on ABC, as she referred to it).

Should the trio return, they would be the longest tenured judges since the original group of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

One other bit of news from behind-the-scenes, Deadline has reported that American Idol showrunner Trish Kinane is stepping down after handling the job since season 15 (it’s last on Fox). Megan Michaels Wolflick, who has been with the show in various roles for 15 years, will take over as showrunner for season 20.

Past episodes of American Idol are available to watch on or on Hulu.

What to Watch will continue to update this page as more information comes out on American Idol season 20. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.