American Idol season 21: release date, judges and everything we know about the hit singing competition series

Ryan Seacrest, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry posing for American Idol season 21 key art
Ryan Seacrest, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry in American Idol season 21 (Image credit: ABC)

It’s time for American Idol season 21, which is great news for those who can’t wait to see the latest crop of contestants blow away the judges and the rest of America. 

When it comes to reality TV, there are plenty of competitions that showcase up-and-coming musicians vying for that one shot that puts them on the map. For example, there are shows like The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. However, American Idol reserves a unique space in this genre in that it has stood the test of time and has been on the air for nearly two decades. 

In almost 20 years, the series has crowned winners that have gone on to be talk show hosts, Grammy winners, actors and one has even recently earned her way into the exclusive class of EGOT recipients (those individuals with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). So what can loyal American Idol fans expect in the show’s 21st season? 

Here’s everything we know. 

American Idol season 21 release date

American Idol season 21 debuts live in the US on Sunday, February 19, at 8 pm ET/PT on ABC. The premiere episode becomes available on Hulu the next day. 

By the way, you can see what else airs on Sundays on primetime by checking out WTW's US TV listings.

At this time, we don’t have release information about a UK release of the season.

American Idol season 21 premise

 Since the beginning, the show has always been a singing competition that crowns a winner based on the judges’ feedback and America’s votes. Here is the official synopsis of American Idol

"American Idol, the iconic series that revolutionized the television landscape by pioneering the music competition genre, returns to airwaves for season six on ABC. Helping determine who America will ultimately vote to become the next singing sensation are music industry forces and superstar judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. Emmy Award-winning host and producer Ryan Seacrest hosts the beloved competition series.

"American Idol ranked as the No. 1 program in the Sunday 8-10 p.m. time slot last season among Adults 18-49. In fact, American Idol won its time period for the third straight year in Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s No. 1 program last season in total viewers."

American Idol season 21 judges

Ryan Seacrest, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan in key art for American Idol season 21

Lionel Richie, Ryan Seacrest, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan in American Idol  (Image credit: ABC/Gavin Bond)

Returning to the series to help guide viewers in their weekly voting are Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. Bryan is a top-selling country musician that is well-known for songs like "Drunk on You," "That’s My Kind of Night" and "Play It Again."

Perry is one of the most successful pop artists of all time. Her album Teenage Dream alone earned the distinct privilege of becoming the first album by a female artist to produce five number-one Billboard Hot 100 singles. Some of Perry’s most popular tracks include "Dark Horse," "Firework," "Hot N Cold," "Roar" and "California Gurls." 

Last, but certainly not least, is Richie. He is a four-time Grammy winner, and best known for hits like "All Night Long," "Lady" and "Hello." He also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the film White Nights.  

American Idol season 21 trailer

It’s a little too early for an official trailer. However, a teaser for season 21 has been released. Check it out.  

How to watch American Idol season 21 

Episodes of American Idol season 21 air live on ABC. For those that have cut ties with traditional cable/satellite TV, ABC is also a part of live TV streaming services such as FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV). Episodes also become available to watch the next day over on Hulu. 

As more information becomes available to us about a UK release of the season, we’ll pass along the update here. 

Terrell Smith

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.