AmericanIdol has experienced a wide variety of changes to the judging panel over the years. The classic line-up began in 2002 with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson all ready to try and find America’s next biggest pop star. But over the years, the programme has played host to massive artists such as Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and even Steven Tyler.


In the article below, we’ve gone behind the scenes of the reality music programme and taken a look at the real life partners of the American Idol judges. Find out which judge was once married to Emilio Estevez, plus we reveal which previous panel members are set to walk down the aisle in the next year or so. Fans of American Idol will definitely want to keep reading. Enjoy!

1. Simon Cowell & Lauren Silverman

Simon Cowell is the king of reality TV.

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He’s acted as a regular judge on more music contests and talent shows than we can count – and of course, he’s been a judge on American Idol since it first aired in 2002. Cowell eventually left in 2010 to go and work on the American X Factor, and his personal life has certainly been very interesting since then.

Cowell is currently with Lauren Silverman – the pair have been dating since 2013 and share a son, Eric, together. The story of how they got together is a little bit awkward though…

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Cowell and Silverman were actually having an affair while Lauren was still married to her now ex-husband Andrew. To make things even worse, Andrew and Simon were supposed to be good friends!

Things got ugly when Lauren and Andrew started divorce proceedings, but eventually they managed to settle out of court which allowed Simon to avoid being called as a witness in their case!

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The couple have been together ever since and regularly appear on the red carpet together. Lauren gave birth to their son Eric in 2014.

2. Paula Abdul & Emilio Estevez

Paula Abdul was a fan favourite judge who often provided welcome relief from Simon’s cutting remarks.

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Abdul featured on the very first panel of judges in 2002, alongside Simon and Randy Jackson. She was initially horrified by Simon’s judging style and almost considered leaving the show after the first season, but eventually stayed on American Idol until 2009.

Abdul has had an interesting love life over the years. She was married to former Brat Pack member Emilio Estevez from 1992 until 1994, but sadly the marriage ended in divorce.

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Abdul revealed that she had been struggling from bulimia and that all she could think about was food. Another strain on her marriage to Estevez was the fact that she wanted kids, while he wasn’t so keen.

Estevez already had two children from a previous relationship and didn’t want to start another family. Abdul later stated that the decision was “heartbreaking for us both”.

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It’s unclear whether or not Abdul is currently dating anybody, but we definitely wish her well!

3. Katy Perry & Orlando Bloom

For many people, Katy Perry was a surprising addition to the American Idol line-up.

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Her career is still going strong but she must have wanted to try out some reality TV for a change because Perry joined the series in 2018 and instantly proved to be a major viewings hit. Perry herself earned $25 million for her appearance on the music show.

The ‘I Kissed A Girl’ singer was famously married to Russell Brand for a brief period, but after that particular union went down the drain, she started seeing hunky British actor Orlando Bloom in 2016.

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Things must be going very well for the notoriously private couple, because they announced their engagement in February of this year. Congrats!

Good luck trying to spot them out and about together though…the pair don’t show up to awards ceremonies very often and try to stay out of the limelight as much as possible.

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Stay tuned for more news on their upcoming nuptials!

4. Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez

J-Lo is another massive pop star to have served on the American Idol judging panel.

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Lopez experienced a dip in her career in the early 2000s, but that all changed with her appearance on the tenth series of the reality music contest in 2011. She replaced Ellen DeGeneres and starred alongside Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Lopez then returned for the eleventh series and earned a whopping $20 million in the process.

Away from American Idol, Lopez has had a highly publicised love life with previous partners including Ben Affleck and ex-husband Marc Anthony.

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However, celeb watchers will know that J Lo is currently dating baseball star Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez. In fact, the couple announced their engagement only a couple of days ago!

A-Rod must have been tamed by Lopez because he has long carried a reputation as a notorious ladies man. Lopez will soon be joining her fellow judge Perry as a married woman once again.

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Congratulations guys!

5. Randy Jackson & Erika Riker

Randy Jackson is the longest-serving judge on American Idol.

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He always provides a nice balance to the judging panel and has a lot of experience in picking out potential winners in the entertainment industry. Jackson eventually left the show in 2013 after 12 seasons on the series, and only returned briefly in 2013 to serve as an in-house mentor on the programme.

So who is he dating in real life? Jackson got hitched to Erika Riker in 1995 and the couple share two children together – a daughter named Zoe and a son, Jordan.

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The pair were together for several years and often appeared in public while Jackson was serving as an Idol judge. However, Riker filed for divorce in 2014, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’.

The pair’s divorce proceedings took a while to sort out, but as of 2019 they are now officially divorced. It’s unclear whether Jackson is currently dating anyone.

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He was previously married to a woman named Elizabeth Jackson but they ended their union in 1990. He has a daughter named Taylor from his marriage to Jackson.

6. Mariah Carey & Bryan Tanaka

Mariah Carey had a troubled time on American Idol.

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It’s safe to say that the pop singer doesn’t have very fond memories of working on the show, after previously describing it as “like going to work every day in hell with Satan.” Carey was referring to her fellow judge Nicki Minaj – the pair often ended up arguing and Carey eventually quit the series.

Carey has also experienced some ups and downs in her love life over the last few years. She was engaged to Australian billionaire James Packer but they went their separate ways in October 2016.

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Rumour has it that Packer was growing increasingly annoyed by Carey’s close relationship with her back-up dancer Bryan Tanaka…and sure enough, only a few months later it turned out that the pair were dating.

The couple were quickly spotted out and about enjoying a string of date nights and luxury holidays together, but since then things have gone very quiet.

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Carey hasn’t been spotted out with Tanaka since Christmas 2018. Potential drama on the horizon!

7. Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman

Keith Urban is a New Zealand-Australian singer/songwriter who joined the American Idol team in 2012.

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Fans of the series will remember that Urban was brought in to replace Steven Tyler, and he quickly embedded himself into the judging panel. Since then he has acted as a judge on three seasons of the show and remains a popular addition to the series.

Urban is married to Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman. They first met at an LA event celebrating Australians in the entertainment industry and the couple quickly got engaged.

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Only one year after first laying eyes on each other other, Urban and Kidman got married in 2006 at a chapel in Manly, Sydney. Apart from a brief stint in rehab for Urban, the couple have enjoyed a very happy marriage.

Kidman gave birth to their first daughter Sunday in 2008, before having another girl named Faith in 2010. Aww! The pair can often be seen supporting each other on the red carpet.

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The family currently split their time between America and Australia.

8. Nicki Minaj & Kenneth Petty

Nicki Minaj is no stranger to drama.

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And she definitely didn’t get on well with Mariah Carey, her fellow judge on the twelfth season of the show in 2013. Minaj was forced to deny allegations that she had stated “If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch [Carey].”

Away from American Idol, Minaj has been making more headlines with her choice of boyfriend in recent weeks. It’s been reported that the rapper has gotten together with her ex-flame Kenneth Petty.

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Petty has a troubling rap sheet – he is actually a convicted sex offender and has also served time for murder. Sounds like a charming young man. Unfortunately it looks as though Minaj has completely fallen for Petty…

She’s been posting plenty of dodgy social media snaps with the ex-convict, who is 40 years old. She has allegedly also hinted to fans that there might be wedding bells in the near future.

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We can’t imagine what her family must think of this one.

9. Lionel Richie & Lisa Parigi

Lionel Richie is a judge on the ABC revival of American Idol.

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He’s definitely a welcome addition to the judging panel – selling over 90 million records worldwide makes Richie one of the best-selling artists of all time, and any contestants would love to hear from a guy with that much experience!

Richie has been married twice before – once to his childhood sweetheart Brenda Harvey and then again to his long-time love Diane Alexander. But recently Richie has hooked up with a much younger woman.

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Richie’s marriage to Alexander ended in 2003. In the last year or so, he’s been spotted hitting the red carpet with a much younger lady on his arm named Lisa Parigi.

The 69 year old music icon can often be seen shopping and at restaurants with his girlfriend Parigi, who is in her thirties. He’s so in love that Richie has even talked about having some more kids late in life!

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It’s rumoured that the pair have been dating for over seven years.

10. Luke Bryan & Caroline Boyer

Luke Bryan is a country music singer who has sold millions of albums worldwide.

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Like his fellow judge Richie, Bryan signed up to the ABC revival of American Idol in 2018. With that dazzling smile and those good looks, he was a natural choice to feature on the judging panel of the reality music show! So who is he dating in real life?

It turns out that Bryan has been married to his wife Caroline Soyer since Boyer since 2006. The happy couple first met at university in Georgia and have been together ever since.

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The couple have two sons together named Thomas and Tatum – Caroline is clearly very supportive of her husband’s career and can often be seen at awards ceremonies with Bryan.

Did you know all of these real life partners of the American Idol judges? Let us know in the comments section!