How Harry Connick Jr. is Saving American Idol — Our Top 5 Reasons
Credit: Matthias Vriens-McGrath/FOX © 2013 FOX Broadcasting Co.    

American Idol

How Harry Connick Jr. is Saving American Idol — Our Top 5 Reasons

Harry Connick, Jr. is a man of many, many talents, but it didn’t immediately seem obvious why the producers of American Idol would choose him as a judge for Season 13. After all, the show has made its mark by employing controversial figures (see: Simon Cowell) and banked on squabbles between the judges to keep the ratings high. (Yet, much to the network’s display, not even Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj could keep viewers interested in last year’s unremarkable season.)

Harry’s got more No. 1 albums than any other artist in U.S. jazz history, but he’s fairly unknown to the younger set auditioning for the show. Does he really have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of reality competition legends? You better believe he does!

As a matter of fact, Harry has (in our humble opinions) single-handedly brought American Idol back from obscurity. While we’re still in the early stages of Season 13, the show’s already better than it has been in years. Sure, J.Lo’s adorable and Keith knows his music, but it’s Harry Connick, Jr. who’s truly stealing the show.

Here are five reasons why:

1. He’s Likeable
Gone are the days of judges cutting down contestants for the sake of their own amusement. (We’re talking to you, Simon.) Harry’s the new dude in town and he’s brought some serious likeability along with him! Even when he’s delivering a solid critique or vetoing a Golden Ticket, he does it in a way that’s honest and constructive without being mean.

2. He’s Knowledgeable
Don’t ever expect the phrase “That was pitchy” to come out of Harry’s mouth. (He doesn’t even believe in the word “pitchy,” OK?) Harry’s critiques are all about music theory and technique. When he’s not advising someone on how to fix their guttural tone, he’s schooling J.Lo on the definition of pentatonics. (For someone with as much commercial success as she has, it’s surprising what she admits she doesn’t know.)

3. He’s Freaking Hilarious and Isn’t Afraid to Make a Fool of Himself
Harry loves poking light-hearted fun at the contestants, as well as his fellow judges. He frequently busts out silly voices and witty remarks, on top of a few slapstick shenanigans like cradling contestants and singing “Pants on the Ground.” The best part of all? Harry’s not afraid to make fun of himself. He wholeheartedly embraces the fact that most of the contestants have no idea who he is. “I went to a bar and got drunk because nobody knows who I am!” he joked in the Season 13 premiere.

4. He’s Handsome
Harry’s talent and experience are undoubtedly the most important factors to his success on the show, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also ogle him in the process! We don’t know a single woman who doesn’t find Harry attractive (we’ve looked), and his ability to pull off newsboy caps and hipster glasses is just icing on top of the cake.

5. That Bromance, Tho
What do we like more than a hot guy wearing hipster glasses? BROMANCE. Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. got mad love for each other and they’re not afraid to show it. It all goes back to last year when Harry served as a mentor on an episode of Season 12. During the live performance, Keith physically pulled Harry from the audience and up to the judges panel. “Oh my God, I’m holding Keith Urban’s hand!” Harry shrieked. Now that they’re past the honeymoon stage, their love has taken a feistier turn with Keith taking the brunt of his tableside snark.

“Keep writing songs, because you’re going to write a song that’s melodically right for you and it’s going to bring out all the best in you,” Keith recently told a rejected contestant.

“That’s great advice. That’s smart,” said Harry. “When is that going to happen to you?”

While we don’t ever expect Idol to return to its glory days of yore, Harry’s brought some much needed class to a show that seems to have forgotten it’s supposed to be about music. Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Harry.

01.30.2014 / 12:00 AM EDT by Jager Weatherby
Related: American Idol, Features, American Idol Season 13, Harry Connick Jr

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