The show must go on: 'American Idol' judges share challenges, benefits of all-remote show

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 'American Idol' made history on Sunday night as the top 20 finalists performed from home, but that doesn't mean the legendary judges are lowering their expectations.

The contestants sang their hearts out with backdrops like backyards, sheds, bedrooms and even family rooms with loved ones or furry friends looking on.

Even 'American Idol' judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as host Ryan Seacrest, went live from their homes.

Without the glitz and glam of a studio and audience, the artists had to focus on more than just bringing their voice to the table -- they had to bring their light and let their personality shine through.

While there is something exciting about playing in front of a crowd, and there's an energy that even the judges miss, they still say the remote format is still not all a bad thing.

"I think there are a lot of advantages actually to doing it this way, I think we get to continue to be up close and intimate with these performers and hear the nuances in their voices," Perry said. "Sometimes when we're doing these big shows with audiences, you lose some of the intimacy and some of the subtlety and the beautiful nuances because there are so many people."

Richie warns that he and his fellow judges will be watching even closer and judging those performances even harder.

"In this case we get to see their creativity from another level -- they're creating a set at home -- but there's nothing like a crowd screaming to get the reaction you're looking for, all that matters, especially in a case like 'American Idol,' because the people at home will feed off of that," Richie said
As far as what to look forward to next week, Coach Bobby Bones says the top 10 will sing songs about home.

"They've picked songs that either remind them of home or that talk about their specific home or songs that somebody in their home used to sing to them," Bones said. "I think next week's episode is going to be one of the deepest and rawest that I've ever seen on 'Idol.'"

The judges even had some words of advice for NYC's own Julia Gargano:

"It's about song selection right now and if you really like Julia or someone in particular, what you have to do in order to get them to go to the top 10 is vote right now," Perry said.

Richie chimed in that the contestants cannot get close to their dreams without America's help.

And no matter the format of "American Idol," that's one thing that remains the same -- the decision is up to you, America!

Hear more from 'American Idol' coach Bobby Bones:
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"American Idol" coach and mentor Bobby Bones speaks about the challenges facing contestants with an all-remote competition.

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