What makes an ‘American Idol’? Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie talk the ‘it’ factor

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LOS ANGELES — What does it take to be an “American Idol?” The judges are weighing in.

“They just got to have the star ‘It’ factor, the magic,” said country superstar and judge Luke Bryan.

For Lionel Richie, all he thinks about is “instant identity.”

“In other words, five seconds into your voice, can I remember your voice?” he said.

“It’s intense. It’s exhausting for them,” said Katy Perry.

The three star judges along with host Ryan Seacrest are reflecting on Season 22’s contestants who have made it through to Hollywood Week.

“They just can do it, and you’re sucked into what they’re doing,” said Seacrest. “You don’t feel like they’re thinking so much about it when they’re performing. That’s power.”

Bryan said the first thing they see when they meet a contestant is innocence, youthfulness and hope.

“… and drive and determination,” he said. “And to get to where we have, you got to have all of that.”

Richie said every contestant that performs is 100% ready for what’s to come.

“That reminds me so much of us,” he said. “Me especially, because when I was 19 … The Commodores … we’re ready. Let us go. It was seven years later, we made it, you know, in terms of the hit, but they all think right now, today, ‘I just left my bedroom. I’m ready to kill it.'”

Perry doesn’t care what contestants choose to sing – it’s all about their spirit.

“They can sing one of our songs and make it sound like they wrote it, so if they embrace it, I’m in,” she said. “Really delivering it with their heart. It doesn’t matter if they get a little pitchy or if they don’t do it perfectly. If they connect emotionally, I think they win.”

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