'Idol' judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie hint at awesome new talent

After taking on the iconic show for the first time last year, the three judges discuss what makes a successful contestant.
8:22 | 03/01/19

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Transcript for 'Idol' judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie hint at awesome new talent
reality staple for 17 seasons, but it's not just the singers carrying the idol tune, but we have how the judges are tipping the scale. Cousin Ryan. Uncle Ryan, papa Lionel, and we're the misfits. These are my kids. Reporter: They've quickly become a reality show family. Children, children. Katie asked me, you have met this guy? Do you know this guy Luke Bryan? You're going to love them. Reporter: That prediction came true. They're from three very different worlds. Katy Perry, the pop princess who made us roar. And Luke Bryan who knows exact exactly what makes you country. ??? Everybody sing, everybody dance ??? Reporter: And Lionel Richie, the legend who's had us dancing all night long for decades. So it was basically love at first sight. Absolutely. Reporter: These "American idol" judges have formed an unexpectedly tight friendship on and off the screen. Sometimes Lionel invites us over to his very large mansion. Very spacious. Don't even play around. Reporter: And I heard you have a text chain that you have a name for. Yeah, it's called the judgmentals. Reporter: This reality show staple has enjoyed 17 seasons and counting, launching careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood. And Jennifer Hudson. I've seen a lot of groups of judges together. This one definitely has the tightest, closest, most candid bond of all of them. Reporter: Why do you think they have such chemistry? I can tell you one other thing, too. We're all artists. What do you do for a living? Right now I work as a janitor. Reporter: Artists reminded by all these young hopefuls of what it was like for them to be a starving artist. I wonder how your role with "American idol" changes the way if you approach your own career. Gratitude. I've been doing this and have had a lot of, you know, wonderful opportunity for over a decade, and I know, you know, my friends have here as well, and sometimes you do get used to a nice hotel room. And then you kind of forget along the way about who that person was. You -- I got signed and dropped two times and cars repossessed and sleeping on couches. The contestants remind us of ourselves. We see other selves in them and they reinvigorate us. Brrrr. How many cups of coffee have you had today? Don't ever drink coffee again. Brrrrr. Reporter: How do you break the news to someone if they're super quirky or they have no talent? Well, we celebrate. Quirky is great. I mean, quirky is great. I made a career out of it. ??? ??? Reporter: The California girl, the rebellious daughter of a preacher made waves with her first hit. ??? I kissed a girl ??? ??? and I liked it ??? My first single was "I kissed a girl." Do you think my parents were excited about that? Reporter: How did your parents react to that? Oh, you know, they're doing just fine now. Reporter: I heard, Katie, you see yourself as the tough judge. You call yourself Simon Cowell with -- Makeup on. I'm fair but direct. 1,000%. Reporter: What happen when is you disagree? I take my heels off. It gets a little raggedy. It's so stressful. Reporter: For these judges, personality counts. Hitting the high notes isn't always enough. We will have great singers. Like, they've never hit a bad note, but they're not connecting with us emotionally. Yeah. ??? Voice of an angel ??? ??? pretty eyes that shine ??? Reporter: But when young hopefuls do connect, the moment is equally powerful, on both sides of the judges table. My name is Shayla Wynne. I just became legally blind about a year ago. Her attitude was these are the cards I was dealt, I guess I got to get on with it. Just that statement alone hits you right in the gut. But she still says I don't want anything to deter me from my dreams, so I'm going to then she opened her mouth and started singing. ??? I rise up ??? ??? I rise up ??? Of course I just lost it completely to the point of embarrassment. I'm so in love with you. Oh, thank you. That's the show. MM. That's what it's all about. Thank you. Reporter: And sometimes the contestants' private pain mirrors the judges' own lives. In January I lost my older brother to suicide. Oh, bud. And in April I lost my 17-year-old brother to suicide. ??? So come on, let it go ??? ??? just let it be ??? ??? why don't you be you ??? ??? and I'll be me ??? I haven't brought it up on this show because I haven't had to. But as somebody who's lost both siblings, you know, man, I applaud you for keeping a positive attitude and continuing to be a light. It was just so powerful, so healing, so real. And that's what, when we can clock in and sign up for that every day, it's like get us on the plane and fly us there, and let's go have some amazing ??? I see the words across her face ??? ??? savin' my last breath for you ??? Reporter: So how satisfying is it to be able to mentor these young people? So fun. So fun, that's what I was going to say. It's like having a literal lottery ticket that we can give these kids. Reporter: What do you say to the criticism that oh, "American idol" doesn't make stars like they used to. Oh, please. Baloney. There are 35,000 songs that come out on Spotify every day. To get any traction you have to basically lig yourself on fire on Instagram. We don't recommend that. They need an a little something extra, so they're coming to idol. There are a lot of great shows, but it's the only show that truly makes superstars. And by the way, if anyone were to say "American idol" doesn't make stars, I'm sorry, watch the oscars last weekend. ??? We will, we will rock you ??? And Jennifer Hudson can sing her booty off. I call the university of "American idol." Reporter: With idol in swing, Katy's in full bloom, announcing her engagement to Orlando bloom. Do you have to have a sling for that ring? I mean, it's super heavy. You don't have to zoom in, honey. Wide lens. Reporter: There's no wedding planning going on? W, there's just being in the moment. She's in the moment. She's loving it. I'm happy. Reporter: This idol family's so close, even offering wisdom about love. Papa Lionel. Let's go to marriage university now. You know, what you do in your 20s, you're still exploring. You don't even know who you are. The 30s, you have a better idea what you're doing, who you are, where you're going. And therefore, can you predict a little bit more success. 30s. Then 40s and 50s, I can tell you those stories, too. But you're not there yet. Reporter: Papa Lionel doing what papa knows best. Our thanks to juju. "American idol" "A new journey" begins right here on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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