When 'American Idol' 2023 Starts: Everything About Season 21

American Idol is returning for its 21st season, and fans of the singing competition don't have long to wait for the new episodes.

The show follows aspiring singers as they audition in front of a panel of judges. The successful contestants go on to compete in a series of live shows, in hopes of being crowned the winner.

American Idol judges Season 21
“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest pictured far left with the singing competition's judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. The ABC show is returning for its 21st season on February 19. Gavin Bond/ABC

The winner of American Idol is awarded a recording contract and a cash prize money of $250,000. This year's winner will take the crown from 2022 champion Noah Thompson.

American Idol originally aired for 15 seasons on Fox from 2002 to 2016, before being taken off the air for two years and then revived in 2018 on ABC.

Season 21 marks the sixth season of American Idol since it was rebooted for ABC.

Newsweek has everything you need to know about the upcoming installment of American Idol.

'American Idol' Season 21 Start Date

The 21st season of American Idol will premiere on Sunday, February 19 at 8 p.m. ET.

Episodes will be available to stream on Hulu the next day.

'American Idol' Season 21 Judges

Pop star Katy Perry, country singer Luke Bryan, and musical legend Lionel Richie are all returning to the American Idol judging panel.

This will be the trio's sixth year together as a panel, making them the second-longest-running line-up of judges.

American Idol Season 21 panel
Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan pictured on the show. They are now the second-longest running trio of judges on "American Idol", with this new season marking their sixth season together. Eric McCandless/ABC

The original, and perhaps most famous, trio of judges was Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. They judged the show together for eight seasons from 2002 to 2009.

Other past American Idol judges have included Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Harry Connick Jr.

Ryan Seacrest will, of course, be back as host, having fronted the series from the very beginning. He was the only person from the Fox version of American Idol who returned for the reboot on ABC.

'American Idol' Season 21 Format

As always, American Idol will begin with the audition stages, which, for Season 21, took place in person and online.

Auditions began in August 2022 with the virtual nationwide search, titled "Idol Across America," where hopefuls audition virtually for an American Idol producer.

Successful singers then go on to sing for the judges onscreen and, hopefully, bag a golden ticket to the Hollywood Week stage of the competition.

American Idol Season 21 auditions
Ashley Tankard, pictured, is one of the hopefuls who auditioned for the new season of "American Idol." Viewers will see the judges embark on a nationwide search across New Orleans, Las Vegas and Nashville to find the next singing sensation when the show returns. Eric McCandless/ABC

The in-person audition rounds, with the judges present, took place in Las Vegas, Nashville and New Orleans. At each of the three audition locations, the panel handed out a "platinum ticket," as well as the golden ones.

The platinum tickets are a little different from the golden ones. Not only do they secure a spot in Hollywood Week, they also give singers the opportunity to watch the other auditionees in the auditorium. This allows them to eye up the competition and pick their duet partner.

After the auditions, Hollywood Week and the Showcase Round, fans will watch as the 2023 cohort of American Idol contestants are whittled down to just 24 performers by the judges.

The top 24 will then be cut down to 16, then 12, and only these dozen artists will progress to compete on the live shows.

America's Platinum Ticket

A special "America's Platinum Ticket", which is voted on by the public, has been introduced for season 21 of American Idol.

The winning hopeful has already been revealed as Elijah McCormick, as he was voted the winner during the 2022 American Music Awards in November 2022.

During the awards ceremony, snippets were aired of three auditioning singers: McCormick, Haven Madison and Duncan Laurence.

McCormick received the most votes from the public, following his rendition of "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts.

American Idol returns Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Episodes will be available to stream on Hulu the next day.