The person who received the most attention this week on American Idol wasn’t any of the contestants or even the judges. Rather, it was Harry Connick, Jr. After seeing his involvement as a guest mentor, fans everywhere wondered if he should be considered as a possible judge or next season.
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Following Thursday’s Top 4 (redux) results show, Harry Connick, Jr. talked with E! News about his time as a mentor and all the speculation. “It’s a fun show,” he said. “It’s been talked about before, who knows what’ll happen in the future. What I’ve done thus far on the show has been really fun, so I’ve had a great time.”
He went on to confirm that Idol has approached him. “You know, they kinda wanted to know if I would be interested in it. I think you need to be completely honest, and I think you need to be diplomatic. I think there’s no reason to be mean, but it is called being a ‘judge.’ You have to judge. That’s what you do.”
If you’ll recall, Connick, Jr. was also a mentor in season 9, and the same rumors came up even back then about him being a judge. “The last time I was here,” he went on to say, “I was so flattered that they were kind of talking about it. And it didn’t work out. There were a lot of things going on on their side and a lot of things going on on my side with just stuff. It’s hard to make a commitment like that.”
But would he able to fit Idol into his schedule? After joking that he would need $600 million to join the show, he said, “I’m going on tour this year so, like, when would I do it? If’s that kind of thing.”
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Why Harry Connick, Jr. Would Make a Good Idol Judge
Now that we know the show is considering him, the next thing we should ask is, should he join the show, and would he make a great judge? The answer to both is simply: yes. Based on his time as a mentor, maybe he should be a coach on The Voice instead. But if he can pull off this role, then he’s already qualified to be a judge.
Why would be be a good judge? That’s easy: he knows what he’s talking about. When he had one-on-one time with each of the Top 4 finalists, he knew how to dig deep into a song. He wanted the contestants to understand what the lyrics meant; if you can’t do that, how can we know that you believe the words you’re singing?
Amber Holcomb had no clue what “My Funny Valentine” was about. So he went through line by line and asked her, what does this mean? What is that all about? Because she stumbled through, this moment became a great example for future wannabe superstars on how they should tackle the process of not only selecting a song, but connecting with it as well. It’s easy to just pick a song because it’s catchy or upbeat or it’ll allow you to showcase your voice, but you’ve hit a roadblock if you turn into a pageant-like singer (or come across as amateur) as a result of poor decision-making.
Along the same lines of being knowledgeable, this isn’t to say the current panel is completely clueless. As a singer/songwriter, Keith Urban has professed key insight (and constructive critiques) into the process of pulling off a top-notch performance, from song selection to the lyrics and much more. Nicki Minaj knows about current music. (Yes, we can debate other attributes that may or may not make her qualified, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, and in between her constant ramblings and Paula Abdul-like comments, there have been times she’s also expressed true insight for what makes a performance work.
And then there’s Randy Jackson. There’s no denying his years of experience in the music industry, depth of knowledge and credibility in the field. But over the past several years on Idol, that cred has tarnished somewhat as he has morphed into generalities, annoying catchphrases like “In it to win it!” and just basically losing his touch as a judge. Enter Harry Connick, Jr….
Whereas Randy has become a bit jaded, Connick, Jr. is nowhere near that level yet. He gave very specific comments to the contestants this past week about how to improve their performances (things like not doing runs when they’re not necessary). These singers need specific advice like that. The judges overall this year haven’t really given them much help in that area. This week’s guest mentor can start to fix this issue.
Not only does he have the credibility as a successful artist and actor, but he’s got the personality that’s made for TV. On a show like American Idol, you need to be ready for primetime. (Something Britney Spears on The X Factor wasn’t ready for.) He has a sense of humor, is quick-witted and knows how to play off of something a contestant says. Look at The Voice: Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in particular have all of these characteristics, and as a result, we the viewers can sit back and enjoy the show. Connick, Jr. would bring a lighter air to the judging panel following a season of tension between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. If the judges aren’t having fun, we’re not having fun.
Also, he’s not afraid to confront the other judges. At the end of Wednesday’s episode, he sat in Keith’s chair and argued with Randy over Kree’s performance. His comments above to E! News are backed up by this exchange. “You need to be completely honest … I think there’s no reason to be mean, but it is called being a ‘judge.’ You have to judge.” It’s about striking that balance, he’s saying. He obviously would take the role seriously, and wants to make sure he’s doing his job right ( living up to his end of the bargain) so the contestants can do theirs.
Once season 12 comes to an end on May 16, the speculation and rampant rumors will begin and continue all summer long on who’s staying, who’s leaving, which judges are being forced out and who might stay. It’s pretty much a given that at least one of the female judges, if not both of them, will leave. Last year, they demoted Randy to a mentoring position before reinstating him as a judge after a deal with Enrique Iglesias fell through. So it’s obvious Idol isn’t against firing him.
As far as the male judges are concerned, the best scenario would be to see Randy be replaced by this week’s fantastic guest mentor. Once Randy became the sole original judge, he took up the mantle of the “elder statesman,” so to speak, and tried to continue on where Simon left off. I could actually see Harry Connick, Jr. step into that role as the lead judge.
What do you think? Should Harry Connick, Jr. become an American Idol judge? And do you think he’s qualified to step into that role? Or should he join The Voice instead?
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(Image courtesy of FOX)