This year radio host Bobby Bones served as a mentor to the contestants and he's sharing some show secrets with us.

By Rebecca Angel Baer
May 21, 2018
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American Idol Finalists 2018
Credit: Eric McCandless / Contributor/Getty Images

American Idol has made a triumphant return to television on a new network this year with a new set of judges, giving new life to the hopes and dreams of musicians coast to coast. In the new version of the show on ABC, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan are seated at the judge's table and while Ryan Seacrest remains in his post as host, another new name has joined the team. Radio personality, and Arkansas native, Bobby Bones served as mentor to the contestants this year, offering them an ear and a good dose of honest advice. And as the man behind the biggest radio show in country music, he has a bit of advice to give.

Ahead of tonight's season finale, Bones recently spoke to Southern Livingand let us in on some behind the scenes secrets from the first season of the ABC reboot.

The judges actually get along

"I was genuinely curious if the judges liked each other. Because sometimes you take celebrities, you put them together, and they're just there making their paychecks," Bones said. Before joining the show he asked his friend Luke Bryan for the real deal.

"I asked, hey do you guys get along? Because I didn't know. I didn't know if he had a relationship at all with Katy or Lionel. And they actually really like each other. And I think you can see that now a bit."

One judge's four-legged pal is always around

"Katy Perry has her dog with her all the time. We were out and this little dog was running around the whole time. And I love dogs." This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to anyone who is familiar with Katy's pup Nugget. The micro teacup poodle even has her own instagram.

American Idol romances

Bones really spilled the beans on this one. He let us in on the romances blooming behind the scenes. "You know whenever you're eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one years old and you're all crammed in a hotel, I guess you start dating each other. And so Cade and Gabby were/are a thing. And then Caleb/Madde Poppe were/are a thing," Bones divulged. Ahh, young love!

Smaller than it appears on TV

"The American Idol studios, where they have their performances, the stage is so much bigger than I thought on television but the audience really isn't that big. I mean they cram ‘em in there like sardines, but they do such a great job…it looks massive on screen but the people are super close to the performers too. I know from performing at one, people are sitting really close to you. It's nerve wracking. The judges are a lot closer to the contestants than I thought they would be too."

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Long hours

"We would tape for an hour and a half with each contestant and they would use about 2 minutes. And so they're very long days. I would just sit down with them and really try to explore what's happening in their minds and in their personal life," Bones said. The producers and editors whittle it down to the brief segment we see on television but seasoned radio host took his role as mentor seriously. And he kept his advice as real as he could.

"I was just kind of letting them know, once you get off American Idol, it kinda sucks. The window's been cracked but all of this is an insolated bubble {that} you've been in, and it's been hard, but you haven't seen anything yet. So don't think you're going to go right from American Idol into being a superstar artist." But Bones added that he does plan to be a resource to the finalists because he truly thinks all three of them are very talented.

For more honest words of wisdom from Bobby Bones, his new book, Fail Until You Don't: Fight Grind Repeat hits bookstores June 19th. Or tune into the Bobby Bones Show daily.