NEW YORK - The debut of "American Idol" on ABC isn't until next year, but there was host Ryan Seacrest near Penn Station delivering his most famous line again, "This is American Idol!"
Yes, he was back on familiar ground as judges collected to greet contestants for the first time on Tuesday.
The judges worked late into the night listening to the first group, gathered from various places on the East Coast. On Wednesday, the judges were back at it with about 3 hours of sleep!
Katy Perry told me she's been impressed so far.
"These young kids are coming in with a confidence I've never really seen before," she said, and we're talking 15 and 16 year olds!
Katy joins country star Luke Bryan and a guy who's sold more than 100 million albums!
Lionel Ritchie calls this panel, "The Dream Team."
"These are friends of mine and we just happen to end up on a show together so how is this possible? So what you're gonna get now is the camaraderie of what we know: the collective thoughts of all we know and we get to turn all of this energy on that which is the new stars. I'm loving that," he said.
Before they face the famous people, the contestants had to survive a couple of rounds of auditions with producers, and this time only the best and brightest get through. So, no really bad singers allowed. Any one of you remember William Hung??!!
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Each judge is ready with constructive criticism, but Luke warns folks not to come with any attitude.
"You've gotta be able to take what we are giving you: our information. Trust us. Apply it. Don't be stubborn. Some of these kids they come in and they think they're there, and we know right off the bat if they're there or not," he said.
The singer/songwriter adds that just because someone has had $10,000 worth of vocal training doesn't mean they're going to be the next 'American Idol.'
Katy Perry was a guest judge on the previous version of 'American Idol' and says the show remains relevant and still capable of discovering future superstars.
"There are still diamonds out there to be found," says Perry. "You'd think everyone's been found through YouTube or through record labels or thru this technology age, but we found some incredible people I mean 2 or 3 people yesterday that we can name by their first names that we are already in love with."
American Idol returns to TV on ABC in 2018.