Bryan shared that although Richie, 68, is “literally the most genuine, kindest person,” he was completely intimidated by the music icon when they first met.
The country singer explained that the first time he came face-to-face with Richie was ahead of a joint performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Although Bryan said he’s typically not one to break into a nervous sweat, he had pit stains on his sweater when he met Richie.
“Lionel’s like, ‘Whats wrong with you, brother?'” Bryan recalled. “I’m like, ‘Man, I’m about to faint being around you.'”
Bryan is also floored by the experience Richie brings to the judges’ table.
“He’s like, ‘Back when I was watching Whitney [Houston] and Diana [Ross] sing, and we’re like…” Bryan explained with a stunned expression. “He drops these names like, it’s normal life for Lionel.”
As for Perry, “Katy keeps snacks stashed,” he said, revealing that the 33-year-old pop star typically keeps Ritz crackers with cheese on-hand for when her stomach starts rumbling.
Bryan joked, “Katy’s gonna be so mad at me when this back. But we can see Katy when it’s snack time – ‘I need my snacks!’ She gets hangry.”
And when Perry and Bryan get sidetracked, Richie is “like our dad,” the singer said. “He has to rein us back in.”
Bryan also detailed what it’s like to be an American Idol judge, confessing that he’s no Simon Cowell when it comes to being brutally honest with contestants.
“It’s interesting. It’s a little out of my comfort zone to just pick people apart, but you have to,” he said. “It’s what you signed up for.”
The “Light It Up” singer recalled their first day of shooting in New York City and dreading telling competitors that they weren’t going to move on to the next round.
“But then when you learn after 14-hour days of filming, you’re like, no it’s time to get to the next one,” he joked.
“It’s been a learning experience for me,” Bryan shared. “It’s been inspirational for me. It makes me want to get back in the studio and work harder because you see truly wonderfully talented people and it inspires you.”