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Here's why you should still care about 'American Idol'

January is a magical time. Sure, it’s the start of a new year—but while ambitious folks across the country are joining gyms and stocking up on leafy greens, a very special, very loyal part of the population is feeling hopeful for another reason: American Idol is back. The dinosaur of a show kicks off its 14th season tonight, and while it may have lost some 20 million viewers during its lifetime, a solid 10 million of us are still in it to win it, dawg—still hoping to witness the birth of pop music’s next Kelly Clarkson.

Real talk: This show is probably not going to yield any more superstars. (But please, Idol, prove me wrong!) Good old Phil Phillips is the closest we’ve come in years, and he’s no Carrie Underwood. That said, we should still watch. Here’s why. READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': Harry Connick Jr. confirms he will return next season

Now that American Idol has been renewed for a 14th season — albeit slightly adjusted — fans want to know what next  year’s judges’ panel is going to look like. Well for now, we can at least tell you it will have a bit of a crooner edge.

Harry Connick Jr. officially confirmed his return to the show during a visit to Live! With Kelly and Michael Wednesday. When asked about his status for next season, Connick replied, “I’ll be back.”

Connick’s return is not a shocking development for most fans, as all judges are anticipated to reprise their roles, but fans can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his scruff will once again be a part of their weekly television routine.

'American Idol': Harry Connick Jr. on his 'harsh' nickname, the most frustrating part of being a judge

When Harry Connick Jr. joined the judging panel of American Idol this season, fans were hit with a fresh perspective behind the desk with some musical critiques that hadn’t been heard in the show’s previous 12 seasons. Connick had appeared on the show before as a mentor and was a fan in the past, watching with his family at home. But following in the footsteps of Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, Connick took his role as judge pretty seriously from the moment he was hired, as frustrating as it may be.

“The most frustrating thing is that the job is to judge,” Connick told EW. “It’s not to be a mentor, it’s not to be a cheerleader, it’s not to be best friends, it’s not to wrap the kids up in a blanket and try to give them as much information that you can; it’s to judge. And that’s what I was hired to do. You have about 30 seconds to be very succinct with information that you think will help them to grow and you know, like, a woman came up to me the other day who I’ve known for years and said, ‘You use the word “sharp” a lot. What does that mean?’ I was shocked, and this was someone I’ve known for 10 or 15 years and I was like, ‘Really?’ That’s something you learn on the first day of music class. Some of these kids don’t even know that. So I wish this was a six-hour show and I could give them information, but that’s not the gig.” READ FULL STORY

Stupid Questions: 'Idol' judge Harry Connick Jr. on J.Lo's third arm, Keith Urban's fake accent, and laser dolphins

He has tickled the ivories to fame and acclaim. Now the 46-year-old jazz crooner/actor will tickle your funny bone as he plays along with Stupid Questions — and helps find the next singing champ as the new (and enthusiastically received) judge on Fox’s American Idol.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Sing me a song about how Idol is going to have a big comeback year. And make it something that really swings.
HARRY CONNICK JR.: I think I could do more of a hip-hop thing: I don’t drink/but if I had a beer/I’d tell you what/Idol‘s great this year/I’d drink some whiskey/I’d drink some wine/but by this time/I’d done run out of time.

That’s just off the top of your head?
Well, the middle of my head, where my mouth is. But I am doing a movie with a dolphin who has a hole on the top of her head.

We’ll get to Dolphin Tale 2 in a sec. The judges seem to be getting along so far. What will you do to fix this problem?
It’s all fake. Being up there with Jennifer Lawrence and Keith Sweat isn’t exactly my idea of a panel, so I got stuck and I gotta deal with it.

What is something surprising about Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban that may or may not be true?
The whole [in Australian accent] “Oh, I love it, mate. Yeeh, it’s griite” — Keith is actually from Brooklyn. His name is, like, Frank Clemente. And Jennifer has a third arm. She’s a beautiful woman, but it’s a little off-putting. It comes straight out of the middle of her back like a fin. It’s a functioning third arm. It’s got a hand, and it can sign contracts. If you’ve ever wondered why she’s able to wear those sexy dresses and not have a wardrobe malfunction, it’s because that third arm is holding it in place.

'American Idol' judges Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. talk audition rounds -- VIDEO

American Idol‘s new season is in full swing on Fox and though the season kicked off with a ratings low note for the series, if you ask EW recapper Annie Barrett, the new judges panel was a rousing success, praising Harry Connick Jr. for his honest judging approach.

When EW caught up with him and fellow judge Keith Urban during the Television Critics Association press tour this week, he opened up about his approach to critiques, citing his willingness to be blunt as a necessary skill. “Sometimes it’s best to cut to the chase and say, ‘I didn’t like that. Here’s why,'” he said. “…I think honesty has to be the source of every single comment.”

Watch more from our chat with the duo below. READ FULL STORY

Harry Connick Jr. approached about 'American Idol' gig -- REPORT


How eager is Fox to get new judges on American Idol?

Representatives of the show are reportedly flirting with singer — and recent guest mentor — Harry Connick Jr. while the current team is still in its chairs.

Fox doesn’t need an Idol judges panel in place until late summer and typically doesn’t get really serious about scouting new talent until after the previous season ends. But this week’s Idol mentor told E! that he’s been approached about taking a seat at the table next season. “You know, they kinda wanted to know if I would be interested in it,” Connick Jr. said. “It’s been talked about before, who knows what’ll happen in the future.”

The crooner seemed to downplay the odds that he’d join the show, joking that he’d want $600 million to come aboard and noting he has other commitments. “I’m going on tour this year so, like, when would I do it? It’s that kind of thing.”

Previously, there was a report that Fox dreamed about changing the panel before the end of the season, bringing back former judge Jennifer Lopez to replace Mariah Carey. Idol seemingly needs to do something to stop its ratings free-fall, though some wonder if changing the current judges will really solve the show’s problems.

Read more:
‘American Idol’ recap: No parade for you


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