*Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban were officially announced today as judges for season 13 of “American Idol.” It’s the first time in the show’s history that the panel consists entirely of singers — like NBC’s “The Voice.”
Lopez returns after a two-season run as judge in 2011 and 2012 that was a boon for the show and her career. Connick, a respected jazz singer and musician, proved adept as a mentor in several “Idol” appearances.
Urban’s return to the contest was announced last month by Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, who said the singer didn’t get a chance to show his personality in his first turn as a judge. Urban appeared overwhelmed last season by the Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj debacle.
“I think this season of ‘Idol’ is gonna be a blast,” Urban said in a statement Tuesday. “New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!”
Fox also announced that original judge Randy Jackson, who exited along with the bickering Carey and Minaj at the end of last season, will be back in a new role as in-house mentor to the contestants. Ryan Seacrest, also part of “Idol” from the start, will again host.
“Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all,” said Jackson. “The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America.”
Record executive Jimmy Iovine had served as mentor in recent seasons. Fox said that Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records, under Iovine’s direction as chairman, will continue to release “Idol” winner and contestant music.
Tryouts are ahead in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Detroit; Omaha, Neb.; Salt Lake City and San Francisco. “American Idol” returns in January.