Day ones! The original American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson reunited for the first time in years on September 18. And, that wasn’t the only reunion. The OG singing competition judges also reunited with American Idol‘s season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson. Simon, 59, Paula, 57, and Randy, 63, were all guests on the singer’s new week-day talk show on Wednesday, which marked the first time all three original American Idol judges have reunited together with Kelly since she won the first season of the show in 2002.
“It’s been 17 years, y’all. I would’ve never thought that show would’ve had the impact that it [did],” Kelly, 37, said. “I mean, look at what it did. The domino effect, like, was crazy!”, she gushed.
Simon, Paula and Randy all went on to thank the Grammy-winning singer for helping to catapult the singing competition show to immense popularity. “I actually genuinely do not believe we would be sitting here today if you hadn’t entered the show that year,” Simon said.
“The whole premise of the show was we had to find a star who was gonna sell records. We found some great people that whole year but when you delivered that moment on that first live show, when you sang that winning song at the end,” he explained. “It was a game-changer,” Paula added.
Randy then recalled a special moment between the judges during Kelly’s season 1 finale. “We looked at each other at the end, at the finale, and said, ‘Wow! This thing is really going to work.’ I think that was the moment that we knew,” he said.
The talk show host went on to point out that she, runner-up Justin Guarini and third-place finisher Nikki McKibbin had no idea that American Idol had “blown up” at the time, “because we were all in that bubble.” Kelly also admitted that she “knew nothing” about Simon when she auditioned for the show.
“I didn’t know it was a TV show until the audition [where] I was in front of y’all,” Kelly recalled. “I was like, ‘Paula Abdul’s here. Some Simon dude, like, he’s some English dude.’ I also did recognize Randy because I knew he had played with Mariah [Carey]. I was like, ‘Aw, snap!’”
Randy, who admitted that he didn’t know Kelly at the time, said he did know that she had star power the moment she tried out for Idol. “On that day, when [you] auditioned, I knew you were gonna win,” he said.
Simon, Paula and Randy left American Idol after seasons 10, 9 and 13, respectively. When the show moved its airing platform from Fox to ABC in 2018, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan took over.
Despite exiting the show, Simon, Paula and Randy continue to be fixtures in the music business. Paula’s still performing and just opened a residency in Las Vegas, Simon is still with America’s Got Talent, and Randy is still managing writers and producers. Additionally, Randy said he’s launching a health and wellness company.
Simon also admitted that he wouldn’t be opposed to doing another competition show with Randy and Paula. “If I’m being honest with you, this does make me think, if I had one wish, it would be to make another show with us again,” Simon said to Paula and Randy. “I’ll tell you why because apart from the fact that we had so much fun and like I said, to credit you, Kelly, we wouldn’t be here without you, the fact that you are one of the most successful singers in the world. Unlike the majority, you are the same person off-camera as you are on camera.”
Kelly also brought out Justin Guarini, who was her season’s runner-up. After the two recalled memories from their time on American Idol, Justin opened up about his career in commercials, his book and his time on Broadway.