Will someone just hire Harry Connick, Jr. already? The charismatic crooner turned up as guest mentor on Wednesday's "American Idol," and he not only stole the show, but he gave this season's disconnected judges' panel a run for their money.
The Top 4 theme was "Now and Then" -- fitting with Harry on board this week. In addition to being a great source of info for Great American Songbook standards (the second half of the theme), the New Orleans singer is a part of "American Idol's" past: He was the show's most involved mentor ever back in Season 9, when he accompanied all of the contestants on the piano as they belted out Frank Sinatra songs. At the end of that season, judges Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres all left the show, and "Idol" should have filled one of their slots with Harry Connick, Jr. then.
But that was then, this is now.
The singer's mentor redo was even more dynamic than his first appearance on the show, as he simultaneously coached and outshined the ballad-singing Top 4 on this girls-only season.
Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb, Candice Glover, and Kree Harrison all sang their hearts out, although their hearts didn't seem to be totally in it. Amber, especially, who began to cry after performing "My Funny Valentine," was likely thinking about how she narrowly escaped elimination last week. The show saved her -- as opposed to the judges -- but it almost seemed as though she'd given up this week despite a stellar performance of her final song. (Her first offering, Pink's "Give Me a Reason" was forgettable at best.) But mentor Harry chimed in that he didn't like Amber's high notes and runs at the end of the song.
"Hitting high notes at the end of 'My Funny Valentine' doesn't make any sense," he said, citing the fact that standards don't need them.
The mentor got into the act again -- big time -- after Kree Harrison performed the Lena Horne song "Stormy Weather."
When Randy Jackson told her she would have done better with the bluesier Etta James version of the song, Harry leaped from the audience to debate with the longtime "Idol" judge, saying Kree needed to learn the melody first.
Randy waffled and told the aspiring "Idol" that she should always "stick to who you are."
"Kree, just be Kree, baby! We just want you to be Kree!" Randy cheered.
Harry deadpanned, "We want you to be Kree but choose the Etta James version."
And, of course, Ryan Seacrest couldn't let this moment go by without a good dig: "You're making Nicki and Mariah look very benign here," he told the dueling dawgs.
Meanwhile, Angie Miller got a dose of Harry's dry humor when he revealed that everyone in his household loved her -- except for him.
So what's the consensus on Harry Connick, Jr. as an "Idol" judge next season? (Because, we have a feeling there will be a vacant seat or two.)
Candice Glover told E Online, "He is the most honest person I've ever met in my whole life! I think he should be a judge next year. He has such a dry sense of humor that you never actually know if he's kidding or being serious."
Comic relief on "Idol"? It sure beats the diva dynamics on this season's panel!
"American Idol" Season 12 airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on FOX.
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