17 January 2014

Harry Connick Jr. on American Idol: Honest but not Obnoxious

What a breath of fresh air Harry Connick Jr. is on American Idol’s 13th season! I watched the auditions of the new season for the first time last night and was immediately impressed by Connick.

Being a first timer, he is perhaps a tad choosy; but that’s fine. It’s the sort of honesty that has been missing since Simon Cowell left the show. Connick offers the show the same sort fo suave and debonair charm that Cowell once gave, but without the Brit’s obnoxious sarcasm.

If anything, Connick can even be more forthright than Cowell ever was. Reacting to the antics of one of the crackpots who typically audition to get some airtime, Connick told the offender straight to the point: “You disrespected the show’s process!”

The poker face when an audition is ongoing aside, Connick is also capable of humour, Not the black humour of Cowell nor the bawdiness preferred by Steven Tyler, who swore as frequently as he breathed; but in a more wholesome way befitting of what is – essentially – a family-oriented show.


What I hope to see less off are the crackpots who come seeking attention but who realistically do not really stand a chance of making it to the show proper. These offered a charming comic relief in the early years of the show. After a few seasons when the novelty has worn off, they have simply become tiresome to watch.
Younger readers will probably be unfamiliar with Connick; but he brings to the table impressive credentials. He is a Grammy Award-winning musician who has seven Top 20 albums in the United States and ten number one albums in the jazz category.

Moreover, Connick has starred in numerous motion pictures over the years. He is also fondly remembered as Leo Markus in the hilarious hit sit-com Will and Grace.

It was also great to see Jennifer Lopez back; albeit as before, she will willingly slip Mr. Bean through to Hollywood just so she will not hurt his feelings. I suppose she replicates the role of the positive judge erstwhile played by Paula Abdul; but with so much more eloquence and sex appeal.

Anything, of course, is better than the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey feud which, I am sure, hurt the ratings; else they would have been retained. I used to be a big fan of American Idol and watched nine straight seasons despite the changes in judging personnel; but stopped watching last season.

For reasons I cannot myself fully explain, Minaj’s face annoyed me; as did her demeanour. Frankly, I could not stand her; and the fact was that I did not even know her before American Idol. In local lingo, she is what would be called “maarte pa sa maarte.”

I thought Mariah Carey was pleasant; but if there was anything that made me stop watching the show altogether, it was that both judges were way too repetitive and did not offer believable insights.

Of last year’s panel of judges, I felt that New Zealand-born country singer Keith Urban was the only one who offered any sort of credibility. Not enough to keep me watching last season; but I am quite happy to see him back for the current one.

It is early days yet, but the chemistry of the current set of judges seems to be working. The repartee, perhaps, is not yet as flamboyant as when Steven Tyler was around; but there is a nice balance to the personality of the judges that makes American Idol worth watching again.

I noticed last night that musical instruments are now allowed during the auditions. I am not totally convinced that is a good thing because the instruments take away focus from the voice.

What I hope to see less off are the crackpots who come seeking attention but who realistically do not really stand a chance of making it to the show proper. These offered a charming comic relief in the early years of the show. After a few seasons when the novelty has worn off, they have simply become tiresome to watch.

Acknowledgment:
1. Information on Harry Connick Jr. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Connick,_Jr..
2. Top photo from cravedfw.com .

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