American Idol: 10 alumni who could return as a mentor in Season 20

Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood
Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Pic credit: NBC/Fox/©

This is the 20th anniversary season of American Idol and there should be a lot of celebration for long-time fans of the show.

While this is just the fifth season on ABC, there is a long history of talented stars who came from the series when it appeared on Fox.

Bobby Bones, who worked as the mentor for the singers since the show moved to ABC, has left the show.

Instead of replacing Bones in the cast, the series will bring in older contestants who went on to succeed to mentor the up-and-coming singers from Season 20.

“There’s not anyone to replace Bobby per se, but this year we will be leaning into our amazing American Idol universe alum to help our current Idols along the way in different stages of the competition,” executive producer Michaels Wolflick said.

”Lots of those familiar faces America has grown to love will be seen throughout the season, and we’re really excited to give back.”

Ryan Seacrest hinted at some of those stars returning for this season.

“In terms of the contestants, I want to see every one of them come back, way back from the beginning,” Seacrest said.

”I remember a moment with Clay and Ruben, I want to see Carrie again, I love seeing Jennifer Hudson. I can remember standing next to them looking at their faces and reactions in moments of success and challenge.”

This opens up a lot of possibilities and there could be some big names returning as mentors this season.

Here is a look at 10 American Idol alumni who we want to see return as mentors in Season 20.

Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)

The best person to bring back is the one who started it all. Kelly Clarkson won the very first season of American Idol and has become the second-best-selling performer from the show’s history.

However, there might be a chance Kelly wouldn’t be allowed to appear on the show.

Kelly is currently a coach on The Voice, a rival singing reality show on NBC, and her contract with NBC might not allow her to appear on an ABC reality series.

However, if she could swing it, Kelly Clarkson absolutely should appear on American Idol Season 20 as a mentor.

Carrie Underwood (Season 4)

The most successful singer to ever come out of American Idol is Carrie Underwood, who won the fourth season of the show.

The Oklahoma native then went on to sell over 70 million albums worldwide, while winning seven Grammy Awards.

She even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

No one deserves to return as a mentor to American Idol in Season 20 more than Carrie Underwood, and ABC would almost surely be happy to see her accept the offer.

Chris Daughtry (Season 5)

Chris Daughtry didn’t win American Idol, and he didn’t even make the finals. As a rock singer on a reality competition series, it is almost impossible to get the votes needed.

However, after coming in fourth place in Season 5, he had tremendous success.

With his band Daughtry, he has sold more albums than anyone from American Idol outside of Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

If American Idol has a week that focuses on rock songs, Daughtry is the one man the show needs to bring back as a mentor.

Scotty McCreery (Season 10)

Scotty McCreery won the 10th season of American Idol and went on to have some nice success in the country music industry.

His debut album was certified platinum, and he even released a Christmas album that was certified gold.

He just released his newest album, Same Truck, in 2021, and American Idol Season 20 could allow him a chance to promote the new music while mentoring the next generation.

Kellie Pickler (Season 5)

Kellie Pickler came in sixth place in Season 5 of American Idol. While she fell one spot behind Daughtry, the two ended up selling more albums than anyone who finished in the Top 4 that year (Taylor Hicks won that season).

Pickler has gone on to become a major star, with three Top 10 albums and a syndicated daytime talk show she co-hosted from 2017 to 2019.

Pickler has a relationship with ABC, appearing on Dancing with the Stars and winning with Derek Hough in 2013, so bringing her in as a mentor in Season 20 of American Idol is something the show should seriously consider.

Jennifer Hudson (Season 3)

Jennifer Hudson might not have sold as many albums as some other American Idol alumni, but she did so much more.

Ranking 11th on the list of best-selling American Idol alumni in the United States for sales, Hudson moved on from making music to acting and had tremendous success.

Hudson finished in seventh place in Season 3 but never looked back. She has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Daytime Emmy Award, and two Grammy Awards.

Jennifer Hudson would be a huge name to come and mentor any aspiring singer on American Idol.

Jordin Sparks (Season 6)

Jordin Sparks competed on the sixth season of American Idol and won the entire competition that season at just the age of 17.

Sparks then moved on to a successful career, her debut album going platinum and selling over two million companies across the world.

Sparks followed a similar road as Jennifer Hudson, moving toward Broadway and acting, with roles in plays such as In the Heights and Sparkle.

With success as a music maker and on Broadway, Sparks could bring a lot if she returns to American Idol in Season 20 as a mentor.

Adam Lambert (Season 8)

Adam Lambert had one of the most amazing careers of anyone who ever competed in American Idol.

As a flamboyant vocalist who varied between classical and modern music, his place in the music world was never assured, but he found his calling.

After finishing Season 8 as the runner-up, Lambert moved on and joined up with legendary rockers Queen, replacing the late Freddy Mercury on their reunion tour and performing with the band for over a decade now.

Just the experience of touring with Queen makes Lambert a man that any aspiring musician should want to get advice from.

Katharine McPhee (Season 5)

Katharine McPhee appeared on American Idol in Season 5 and finished that year as the runner-up to Taylor Hicks.

While Hicks has sold more records in the United States, it all mostly came from his debut. McPhee has had less success, but has released more albums and has enjoyed a small career in the music industry.

McPhee recently returned to the public eye by appearing on The Masked Singer with her husband, record producer David Foster, and that appearance might be enough to catapult Katharine back to the forefront to mentor in American Idol Season 20.

Fantasia (Season 3)

Fantasia was the third winner of American Idol, taking the crown in Season 3.

Since that time, she became the fifth best-selling American Idol alumni in the United States, with over three million albums sold. She also headlined five of her own tours, while co-headlining four more.

Fantasia also took her talents to Broadway, with a role in The Color Purple in 2007 and then a guest role in After Midnight.

With seven studio albums and five number-one singles, Fantasia is another American Idol alumni who could bring a lot to Season 20 as one of the guest mentors.

American Idol Season 20 premieres on Sunday, February 27, 2022, at 8/7c on ABC.

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