After five seasons of over-the-top costumes, iconically awkward interactions with contestants and even the occasional wardrobe malfunction, we can’t imagine American Idol without Katy Perry.
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Fortunately, we won’t have to, as ABC recently confirmed that Perry — along with fellow judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, as well as host Ryan Seacrest — will be back for Season 22 in 2024.
While we await the show’s return, let’s take stock of some of the bonkers moments that have already cemented Perry as one of the show’s all-time top judges, including a few she’d probably rather forget. (As you’ll see, she learned a lot from her first season on the panel.)
Read on for a breakdown of our top 10 moments from Perry’s time on Idol, then drop a comment with your own additions to our list below.
For what it’s worth, we knew that Perry was meant to be an Idol judge from her very first episode (Season 16, 2018). In fact, we can pinpoint the exact word that affirmed her position on that panel: “wig.”
Uttered softly by contestant Noah Davis ahead of his audition, that word established an unspoken bond between the Arkansas native and the “I Kissed a Girl” singer, much to the entertaining confusion of her fellow judges. “It’s not your language,” she told Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. “It’s just for us.”
Of course, it quickly became just for everyone, leading to the first viral moment — for better or worse — of Perry’s Idol career.
9. Glass Sipper
Everybody knows that Snow White can communicate with animals, but Perry’s take on the iconic princess has another fun party trick up her puffy sleeve. Perry made her first Disney Night a memorable one in Season 16, grossing out her fellow judges by removing her royal slipper — which previously she tried to squeeze onto Bryan’s bare foot — and using it as a drinking glass. Cheers!
8. Wiccan of the Sea
Cinder-who? Snow What? After playing it relatively safe with her first two Disney Night costumes, Perry decided to go all out in Season 17 (2019), giving us absolutely everything — including a nightmare or two — as Ursula, one of cinema’s most iconic villains.
7. Throat G.O.A.T.
Sorry, is this American Idol or America’s Got Talent? Because wow.
During some audition downtime in Season 16 (2018), Perry showed off her uncanny bullfrog impression, successfully freaking out Bryan and Richie in the process. And that’s always a fun bonus.
6. Ariel Flounders
One thing you can always count on from Perry on Disney Night? Commitment.
The highly stylized Ariel costume she wore in Season 20 (2022) was so constricting, her fellow judges had to wheel her on stage using a handcart. As if transporting Perry to her chair wasn’t enough of a struggle, the poor woman also slipped right off in the middle of the live broadcast. And that’s to say nothing of her character work during Nicolina Bozzo’s performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
5. The Elephant in the Room
Can something be undeniably beautiful and completely insane at the same time? We’re going to say yes, based solely on this 2020 performance of “Baby Mine” from Dumbo. Perry could have settled for giving us a lovely rendition of one of the saddest tunes in the Disney songbook, and we would have thanked her for it — but since when does she ever settle?
Instead, this song got the full Perry treatment, from the appearance of her pet poodle Nugget to their matching Dumbo/Mrs. Jumbo outfits.
(To be clear, we know that this performance was actually for ABC’s Disney Family Singalong: Volume II, but we’re still including it because  it was part of Perry’s duties as an Idol judge, and  some art is so profound, it simply transcends boundaries.)
4. Simply Incredible
Perry’s latest Disney Night lewk (Season 21, 2023) might have been her best yet. Were we concerned that she was going to pass out in that skin-tight Elastigirl costume? Absolutely. And her running commentary about the lack of air conditioning did nothing to ease those fears.
3. The Shame Game
When 25-year-old Season 21 contestant Sarah Beth revealed herself to be a mother of three during her 2023 audition, Perry was speechless. Well, not totally speechless.
“If Katy lays on the table, I think I’m gonna pass out,” Beth joked, to which Perry replied, “Honey, you’ve been laying on the table too much.”
Beth dropped out of the competition rather suddenly during Hollywood Week, explaining in a TikTok that she felt “mom-shamed” by Perry.
2. Whoopsie ‘Daisies’
Did you know that the American Idol logo doubles as a censor?
Perry learned this lesson the hard way when she dropped it like it was hot — perhaps too hot — during Michelle Sussett’s Season 16 audition (2018), resulting in a fantastically awkward wardrobe malfunction. And what would a reality show be without a few of those?
1. She Kissed a Boy… and He Didn’t Like It
Not everybody can say that their first kiss came courtesy of Perry on national television. And not everybody would want to.
Enter 20-year-old Benjamin Glaze, who told the New York Times that he felt “uncomfortable” when Perry planted one on him during his Season 16 audition in 2018.
“I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately,” he told the Times. “I wanted my first kiss to be special.”
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