Connick Jr. sets a new standard for Idol mentors

Connick Jr. sets a new standard for Idol mentors

We just got through watching this week’s American Idol and Harry Connick Jr. is without a doubt the best mentor they have even had.  Setting aside some of the lackluster performances tonight, having Connick Jr. not only mentor, but arrange the songs and play with the Idols was a stroke of genius.

It still amazes me that we spend 10+ weeks every year listening to the future Idols perform songs that are in no way related to the kind of music they will make after the show.  This week’s theme was no different – Frank Sinatra.  Don’t get me wrong, the songs of Sinatra are great – but does anyone really buy that Casey or Aaron would ever be caught in the same zip code as the songs they performed tonight, had they not been forced to by this week’s theme?

That being said, Harry Connick Jr. set a new standard for mentoring.  Right off the bat, to hear him coach Aaron about not stepping on the turn, I knew that we were in for something different.  (Not to mention the fact that I’m not even sure that Aaron knew what the “turn” was…).  After weeks of being subjected to mentoring from such musical luminaries like Mylie Cyrus, to have an actual musician on the show – and have him actually MENTOR them, not just mug for the camera’s and promote an upcoming album – was a breath of fresh air.

I’m a Harry Connick Jr. fan, and I think that he did himself proud tonight.  The arrangements were spot on, the band sounded lush, and Harry’s piano and organ work was top-of-the-food-chain.  (As an aside – we watch this show with our kids.  I could REALLY do without the cheap “organ” jokes from Ellen – it makes me miss Paula.)  And having Harry actually perform with the top 5 was such a stunningly good idea; I can’t believe it’s taken them this many seasons to come up with it.  Perhaps it’s because so many of the mentors really aren’t musicians, they are singers.  Let’s be crystal clear – this format only works with someone of Harry Connick Jr.’s caliber – we do NOT need to see the Idols performing duets with a Jonas brother, or getting background vocals from Lady Gaga.

All in all, it was “just okay for me, dog” tonight.  The performances were decent, but forgettable.  There were no “moments”.  The judges were overly critical of Crystal and FAR too in love with Big Mike and Lee.  Is there any doubt that the producers want Crystal, Big Mike, and Lee on the finale?  I still think it’s Crystal’s to lose, but I’m starting to lose interest a little.  This group of five just doesn’t have the charisma of previous seasons.  Maybe the bloom is finally off of the rose – maybe it’s just a bad season for talent.  Either way, I’m still watching every week – so the wheels aren’t off the bus yet.  I’ll be there tomorrow, hoping to see Big Mike or Aaron featured in a farewell montage.  See you then!

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