The country star announced the disappointing news on social media on Monday, April 12, writing: "I'm sad to say I won't be a part of tonight's first live @AmericanIdol show. I tested positive for COVID but I'm doing well and look forward to being back at it soon."
"Luke will be missed at our first #AmericanIdol LIVE show tonight, but he is resting now in quarantine at home and we're wishing him a speedy recovery," the network said in a statement posted to Instagram.
Abdul seems more than happy to be stepping into her former position. "The secret’s out…I’m beyond excited to make my return to the judges desk on @AmericanIdol TONIGHT‼️ Stay tuned at 8|7c on @abcnetwork 💋 #AmericanIdol #PaulasBack."
The "Straight Up" singer appeared as a judge on FOX's original American Idol for 10 seasons from 2002-2016. Her return marks the first time she will judge on the singing competition series since its move to ABC.
Idol has had to make serval adjustments in the COVID-19 era. During the pandemic, the network launched a “live virtual audition tour'' dubbed Idol Across America using “custom-built Zoom technology.”
Season four of the ABC reboot premiered February 14. In addition to the pandemic drama, the new season has received extra attention as Claudia Conway, the outspoken daughter of former Donald Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, auditioned. The 16-year-old TikTok influencer made it past the first round but was eliminated on the Monday, March 22, "Duets" episode.
American Idol airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.