Just like other competitions, American Idol has had various celebrities and artists sitting in the chairs of those who decide who gets selected. In the judges’ history, there have already been 14 different names that have gone through the show.

The rotation of these essential cast members has been a common feature in the program to maintain freshness and a diversity of opinions. However, some names have become quite iconic, such as Katy Perry or Simon Cowell.

Each of them has had an essential role in the development of the program, as their judgment and experience in the music industry influence the decision-making on who advances, making it more interesting and even chaotic.

American Idol judging panel over the years

Randy Jackson

Randy Jackson was the third member of the original judging panel and remained on the show until 2013. He was known for his colloquial language and his role as “the Dawg”, bringing a more technical musical perspective to the competition. His music-related jargon was highlighted on several occasions.

Phrases like “That was out of the park” or “That was a little pitchy, dawg” became part of his distinctive style. Although he left the program after the twelfth season, he returned as a mentor in subsequent seasons and occasionally as a guest judge.

Simon Cowell

Simon was known for his brutal honesty and direct comments. His involvement in the show from 2002 to 2010 significantly contributed to its success, and he has become one of the veteran judges of American Idol, being there since the first installment.

He has always been seen occupying the important seat, not only in the talent reality show but also in other competitions. According to Yahoo Style, he is the highest-paid judge in the history of the show, with a salary of $36 million per season.

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul was another one of the original judges of the show, serving from 2002 until 2009. Her more compassionate approach and encouraging comments complemented Simon Cowell’s critical style. The dynamic between the two of them became an iconic part of the program.

She left the reality show at the end of the eighth season in 2009, citing contractual differences as the main reason. Her absence was notable, and many missed her presence on the judging panel, but she returned as a guest for the finale of Season 8 and for Season 9.

Kara DioGuardi

Kara DioGuardi joined the judging panel in the eighth season of American Idol in 2009. Her addition expanded the panel to four judges, including her alongside Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Before the competition, she was known for her successful career as a songwriter and music producer.

Kara’s unique perspective as a songwriter allowed her to provide specific feedback on the quality of the songs and the adaptability of the contestants to perform them. Unlike other judges, she also had the responsibility of participating in elimination decisions during her time on the show.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres joined the reality show as a judge in the ninth season, which began in 2010. Her addition was part of a change in the judging panel, with the departure of Paula Abdul and the arrival of new members. Unlike the other judges who had experience in the music industry, she brought a more entertainment-focused perspective.

Her expertise was in comedy and television. She was known for her kind approach and sense of humor. Although she provided amusing comments, some critics and fans felt that her participation lacked the musical experience that other judges possessed.

Ultimately, she decided to step down as a judge after the ninth season, citing the difficulty of judging musical competition as the primary reason for her departure.

Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler, known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Aerosmith, was a judge for two seasons. He joined the panel in the tenth season, which began in 2011, and stood out for his eccentric style, charisma, and unique personality.

His presence on the show added an element of unpredictability and entertainment to the judging panel. He returned as a judge for the eleventh season, solidifying his role on the program. However, after this season, he announced that he would not continue in the following installment.

Jennifer Lopez

JLo joined the judging panel in the tenth season, which began in 2011, bringing rich experience in the entertainment industry to the program. Her versatility and success in various fields provided a valuable perspective for evaluating the contestants.

Her presence brought forth her elegant style and charismatic personality to the judging panel. Adding a touch of glamour to the show, she became a prominent figure for the viewers.

In addition to being a judge, she also took on the role of mentor and advisor for the contestants. The singer left the show after the twelfth season in 2013, but her time there left a significant impact, and her departure marked the end of an era in the history of the judging panel.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey joined the panel for the twelfth season in 2013, and her inclusion was part of an effort to revitalize the program and attract new viewers. She not only brought her experience to guide contestants in the development of their artistic and vocal skills but also provided detailed feedback and advice aimed at helping participants grow as artists.

During her time on American Idol, she had some conflicts with her colleague Nicki Minaj, who was also a judge that season, and their disagreements garnered media attention. The iconic singer only participated as a judge in the twelfth season and did not return in subsequent seasons.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj’s addition to the program aimed to attract a younger and more contemporary audience, bringing significant success to the twelfth season. Known for being a successful rapper, singer, and songwriter in the hip-hop industry, her presence on the judging panel added a unique and modern perspective to the show.

As a judge, she focused on the authenticity and originality of the contestants, valuing individuality and encouraging participants to showcase their true artistic personalities. Despite the positive moments she brought to the show, she did not return to American Idol for subsequent seasons.

Keith Urban

Keith Urban’s participation in American Idol was one of the most memorable in the program’s history, especially due to his exceptional work as a judge and his unique personality. He brought a distinct perspective to the show as an experienced musician and country singer.

Throughout his time as a judge, he stood out for his kind style and constructive approach. He provided positive and constructive feedback to the contestants, encouraging them to improve and grow as artists.

In addition to being part of the panel, he took on the role of mentor and advisor for the contestants, offering additional guidance on the music industry and stage performance.

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr. joined the judging panel for the thirteenth season, which began in 2014, and stood out for his detailed and technical approach as a judge. He often provided specific critiques on technical aspects of performances, such as pitch and musical interpretation.

The star is known for his musical versatility, spanning genres like jazz, pop, and classical music. His varied experience allowed him to offer feedback and guidance to contestants across a wide range of musical styles. Throughout his three seasons as a judge, he maintained a positive dynamic with the other judges and brought a unique energy to the panel.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry joined the judging panel for the 2018 season, which marked the return of the program after a brief hiatus. Her return to the set was part of an effort to attract a younger and more contemporary audience, and it was successful, as she became one of the top judges to date.

Not only has she won the hearts of the audience and reality show fans, but she has also solidified herself as the second-highest-paid judge on the program, with a salary of $25 million per season.

Known for her candid and sometimes humorous style, she provides direct and emotional feedback to the contestants, sharing her experience and unique perspective in the music industry.

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie joined the judging panel of “American Idol” for the 2018 season, becoming part of the new lineup of judges after the program’s brief hiatus, similar to Perry. He is also known for his kind and mentoring style as a judge, providing constructive and encouraging feedback to contestants, sharing his wisdom and accumulated knowledge.

In addition to his role as a judge, Lionel Richie takes on the role of mentor and inspirational figure for the contestants. His presence goes beyond evaluation, offering valuable guidance for the artistic development of the participants. Up to the present, he has continued as a judge in subsequent seasons after his debut, and his participation has been consistent.

Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan is a renowned singer and songwriter in the country music genre, making him an interesting and successful addition to the judging panel of American Idol. His expertise in the genre brought a unique perspective to the panel of judges, allowing him to assess and advise contestants exploring different musical styles.

Throughout his seasons as a judge, Luke Bryan has maintained a positive dynamic with the other judges, contributing to a collaborative atmosphere. He is known for his relaxed and friendly style as a judge, offering warm and constructive feedback to contestants, sharing his knowledge in a way that few can.