By Lyndsey Parker· Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music

When we last left American Idol, in the middle of a dystopian 2020, Season 18’s production had been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic — forcing the finalists to remotely perform in their living rooms, converted garages, and backyards, with eventual champion Just Sam celebrating her victory alone in a corporate apartment via Zoom.

Nearly a year later, on Sunday’s Season 19 premiere, the show was mostly back to normal (“Dreams are not canceled!” declared judge Katy Perry), although Ryan Seacrest was sporting a lush quarantine beard and many of the auditioners were virtually accompanied by their family and friends, who loomed large on an “immersive” digital wall.

And there on that billboard-sized Big Brother wall, in a viral moment totally on-brand for a dystopian 2021, was Kellyanne Conway, former White House senior counselor to Donald Trump, telling her 16-year-old social media star daughter Claudia, “This is your time to shine, but remember: Winners are people who are willing to lose.”

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