Judge Katy Perry expressed her pride on Instagram for the "glowed up" contestants she first met last summer. She wrote that the singers were so good during the promo, which aired during the Oscars, that she thought the music video was part of the ceremony.
The judges sat down with Good Morning America this week to talk about the show's 17th season.
Lionel Richie said he was especially impressed by the attitude and professionalism of the younger contestants.
"I know what I was doing at 15, and it wasn't standing and saying, 'Give me the ball,'" he said. "It's really quite amazing, the talent and the level."
Some of the Idol hopefuls from the previous season will be back for more, the judges confirmed. Perry said they "took their pop star vitamins" before giving it another shot.
"It's just so fun to watch them grow. That's the beauty," judge Luke Bryan added. "We try to grow every day as artists, judges, songwriters. To watch these kids in their infancy start growing in front of our eyes is so inspiring."
The judges said they wanted to help the top contestants understand that in the end there can only be one winner, but their placement may not dictate what they do down the road.
Bringing it full circle, Perry brought up two prominent past Idol contestants who weren't winners.
"Look for instance: What a good thing about being on the Oscars. Adam Lambert! Jennifer Hudson!" she said. "That's proof. Isn't that proof?"
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American Idol, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, returns Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. ET|7 p.m. CT on ABC. Premiere week will continue on Wednesday, March, 6 at 8 p.m. ET|7 p.m. CT.
After that, Idol will air on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET|7 p.m. CT.