Harry Connick Jr. is awesome. 'Idol's' ratings? Not so much
January 16th, 2014
12:06 PM ET

Harry Connick Jr. is awesome. 'Idol's' ratings? Not so much

Harry Connick Jr. has managed to give "American Idol" something the show desperately needed - good buzz - but he hasn't been able to lift the reality singing competition out of its sad ratings slump.

The series returned for its 13th season on Wednesday with 15 million tuning in and a 4.6 rating in the adult demographic - enough to help "Idol" dominate the ratings on Wednesday but still a drop nonetheless. According to EW, Wednesday's episode was the lowest-rated premiere in "Idol's" history.

But at least "Idol" execs can hope that Connick will help turn things around. The musician was met with a largely mixed response when Fox announced he and Jennifer Lopez were going to replace former judges Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey, but Connick managed to win over his critics during the premiere.

To begin with, he's actually funny. "Idol" fans have gotten used to Jennifer Lopez's charm and Keith Urban's mellow approach, but Connick was an unknown. On the first episode, he set a tone that everyone instantly fell in love with: witty, but still serious about cultivating only the top talent.

Prime example: When one contestant, Munfarid Zaidi,proved himself to be a superfan, Connick promised that if Zaidi blew the judges' minds with his first song, he'd pick the contestant up like a baby.


A crazy promise, but Connick made good on it after Zaidi earned a ticket to Hollywood with his rendition of Adele's "Crazy For You."

The best part of the scene isn't just seeing Connick awkwardly holding a 19-year-old fan, but the reactions of his fellow judges. Who knows what else the season has in store, but Wednesday's premiere was blessedly tension-free.

Add to that Connick's deep knowledge of music, which he's able to use to say exactly why a performance did or didn't work, and you have a judge who "almost single-handedly brought a sense of fun back to 'American Idol,'" says Variety's TV critic Brian Lowry. "Whether spoofing his lack of celebrity relative to Jennifer Lopez or clowning with Keith Urban, there’s an easy camaraderie among the judges that should make the show better company."

By the time the premiere was over, several fans were pleasantly surprised.

"The Idol premiere tonight - I am not lying - is sort of ... delightful," tweeted NPR's Linda Holmes. "Oh, man. That is a curve ball from the universe."

What'd you think of the premiere?

Filed under: American Idol 2013 • television

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Stevie

    I adore Harry Connick, but not even he could get me to watch this awful dreck purporting to be entertainment.

    January 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kate

    Haven't watched Idol in years, but since most of you are saying it was good, fresh and fun again, and because I kinda have a wee crush on Harry, I will be tuning in next week!

    January 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cindy

    Honestly, this is the first season in the last 3 or 4 that I didn't immediately turn the channel after just a few minutes. This season is GREAT. Instead of focusing on the antics and personalities of the judges, it actually seems to be about the contestants this year. AI has gone back to its roots – and has won me back. It is GREAT !

    January 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blakenaustin

    It was time for Randy to go. Minaj was an abrasive, self absorbed, fool. Mariah, too much of a diva. Finally a little class and talent. We'll see if this is enough to save the aging program.

    January 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elmer

    #idol was like reset with a brand new OS. Like, its a new show altogether, like the past never happened. Harry is a saint! Been praising him for 2days now. Jlo is captivating and keith smells good on tv! 🙂

    January 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Di

    best three judges ever -at least they know what music is about and the show is about finding a good singer not just looks. love Harry – he is a pure Pro

    January 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Debbie

    Cautiously watched the premiere of American Idol on Wednesday, after the crazy drama last year that was Minaj and Carey (which ended with me not tuning in because I couldn't tolerate it the crap) I have to say I was relieved and really enjoyed it. Connick is a break of fresh air and the chemistry between Harry, Jennifer and Keith is fun and charged. I don't know how Keith Urban managed to get through last season with all the drama but I bet you he is as happy as the rest of us are that Harry and Jennifer are sharing the judges table with him. I definitely be watching this season!!

    January 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wil Smith

    Jimmy JIMMY What are you doing; you cant bank at that speed!

    January 17, 2014 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |


    January 17, 2014 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. LouisianaProud

    Harry Connick has a great voice and is very talented. Loved him in Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock. I stopped watching last year with the chaos of Nikki and Mariah, who wants to see all that drama! I am hooked again with the chemistry between the three. Keith's charm, Jennifer's warmth and Harry's humor are an absolute great combination. They weren't trying to outshine each other but compliment each other's talents and knowledge of the industry. Thanks Idol think you got it right this time....

    January 17, 2014 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. darlene

    IDOL is getting old!!!!!

    January 17, 2014 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Meh

    Its probably time to start putting infomercials on the same channel on how to get a GED for those who watch this nonsense

    January 17, 2014 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. kim

    Harry Connick Jr. is hilarious. The show has never been so funny. We are back to watching it again.

    January 17, 2014 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. laughingman

    I've always waited until American Idol was down to the last dozen singers before I started watching full episodes. The try-outs? Haven't watched them since the beginning. I turned the first episode of this season on and watched the whole damn episode! Not intentionally. I just liked the "chatter" I heard between the judges. There were laughs, chuckles, and snickers... did I mention laughs?
    Just wait until word gets around that this isn't the same old Idol. This line-up works, and it works well!

    January 17, 2014 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Melanie Rosser

      Idol has my attention again. I found last night's premiere so enjoyable and do not plan to miss an episode! The combination of these three judges, I believe, is the best ever. They all, without a doubt, know how to analyze the characteristics of the singing voice, recognize and appreciate when a contestant sings an original song, and they render comments about each contestant in such a way that the viewers can actually understand what Idol is really looking for. Bravo, Judges!

      January 17, 2014 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. David Jones

    I thought Harry was the best. He calls it as he sees it and is not arrogant and full of himself. On tonight's show when the last contestant, the music healer, he said the guy was a fake. This is what everyone else was thinking but were not willing to say it. I do miss the segments where they show the background of interesting starlets looking for a big break or had to overcome a lot to be where they are. Overall.. well done American Idol. I hope the show gets alot of buzz because it deserves it.

    January 17, 2014 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  16. Rob

    Yay Harry the whole trio work so well together ...Keith looked so uncomfortably out of place last year,he looks so relaxed
    with Harry and Jlo...Had to fast forward all the utter DRIBLE last year except for the talent and KEITH I probably would have switched off too : ( Now I can't wait till the next show : )

    January 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Name*chas

    Maybe Harry needs to start appreciating fans and stop mocking them. Irritating

    January 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Was a fan...

    Loved Harry Connick Jr. as a mentor on the show and was happy to hear he would be a judge this year. Back watching Idol because of him and truly enjoyed the show.

    January 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Dan

    Harry is simply awesome. Great combination of critical, knowledgeable judging along with a great sense of humor and wit. Too bad the show didn't have this breath of fresh air much sooner. They almost completely ruined the show last year with Nikki Minaj and Mariah. They would be hard pressed to get a better panel of judges than what they have this season, but it would not be the same without Harry, much like it wasn't the same without Simon.

    January 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  20. jujubeans

    JLo is still HOT!

    January 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  21. JoJao

    I will watch this show in the future only because of Harry Connick Jr. He is an extremely talented and gifted musician (the best on that panel of judges) who, I believe, will give very helpful advices to the AI's contestants.

    January 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Suzanne

    AWESOME!!!! These three need their own variety show because I have never laughed so hard. Harry is hilarious!!! I literally couldn't breathe from laughing so hard and much. So looking forward to this season, not the show, just the panel.

    January 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jan

    I love Harry Connick, Jr. The judges had chemistry and the premiere was fun to watch! I didn't watch at all last year after being a faithful fan...so, I am excited to think this year will be better! Loved the little gal who wrote the song about her grandpa.

    January 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |

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