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Lionel Richie Wants This ‘American Idol’ Alum to Replace Katy Perry (Exclusive)

Lionel Richie is ready to work some magic! The 74-year-old American Idol judge is preparing to say goodbye to fellow judge Katy Perry at the end of this season and already has some mega stars in mind to replace her. 

“Finding someone to replace Katy with a sense of humor, it’s gotta be fun but no ego because we’re gonna insult each other so much,” Richie told ET’s Denny Directo after Monday’s live show. 

Coincidentally, Richie ran into the first-ever American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, over the weekend, and thinks she would be a perfect judge. 

“I didn’t want to bring that up,” Richie admitted of the open judge’s seat. “Not only did I think about it, I slipped important notes. You know what I’m saying, Kelly, we’ve been together a long time.”

Lionel Richie and Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2019. – Adam Christopher/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

He added of the talk show host, who has previously been a judge on The Voice, “Kelly, if you don’t have anything else to do, I’d like to drop that out there. Big fan!”

But Richie didn’t stop there. He decided to shoot for the stars, including the biggest star out there currently — Taylor Swift

“By the way, Taylor, if you’re available, we’d like to have you out here. Call me!” he quipped. 

Richie, Perry, and Luke Bryan are on this season’s panel of judges, but Perry plans to take her leave after the finale. She previously told ET why it was time for her to go. 

“I’m just trying to make space for other things,” she explained to ET. “It’s not like me ending this show means I’m going to go retire on an island, even though that would be fabulous. I’m gonna go to work.”

Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Ryan Seacrest after American Idol's live shows. – Monica Schipper/Getty Images

In addition to Richie’s picks, pop star Meghan Trainor also served as a coach during Monday’s show, giving several of the cast some ideas. 

“I think Meghan’s always been real fun. You know, that’s kinda been her brand, to have fun,” Bryan shared with ET. “[She’s] real witty, so certainly.”

Host Ryan Seacrest was in agreement, saying, “She was very good. Meghan is a super talent, too, and she’s got a great sense of humor. She’s fun and she’s spontaneous.”

American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu. 


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