And the big winner of tonight's American Idol was...Harry Connick Jr.
Just when we thought Idol had gone and abandoned having guest mentors, the smooth crooner popped up to coach the final four ladies for this week's "Then and Now"-themed performance show. And, just as he had during season 9, when he last offered tips to contestants, he proved himself to be not only dryly funny but astute in his criticisms (stick to the melodies, ladies!) and invested in each performance. On a night where pretty much every song was a ballad, Harry injected some much-needed energy into the show.
If producers are indeed looking to remodel the judging panel for next season, they surely took note of how at home the singer looked sitting at the judges' table tonight, after Keith Urban pulled him from the audience and planted Harry in his seat. The contestants certainly did.
"I would love for him to be a new judge!" Angie Miller told us backstage after the show. "The stuff that he said was really honest and very true. It was helpful to hear from him."
What was the best piece of advice he gave her? "I like how he said that you don't have to do all these runs and stuff that you think sounds good," Angie said of a tip he offered for her performance of the classic "Someone to Watch Over Me." "Like holding out a note is such a powerful thing. It was helpful knowing I didn't have to do all this crazy stuff, that I could just be simple."
Candice Glover, who took Harry's advice and subsequently wowed the judges with her renditions of tunes by both Bruno Mars and Etta James, couldn't stop raving about the New Orleans singer backstage. "Oh my God, he is the most honest person I've ever met in my whole life!" she gushed. "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." That'd certainly keep things lively, no?
With just two weeks to go before the big season-12 finale, Candice told us that the remaining singers—including Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb—are hard at work making decisions about possible debut singles should they win. "We've been, like, talking to writers to get an idea of what we would wanna sing about," Candice spilled. "I think all of us have a lot to talk about. We've all had our own walks of life before we came in here, so we definitely are thinking of some things to put together for that. This is a song that would be on the radio if we win, so I think we should have some type of say."
She has a point. Phillip Phillips had a say in "Home" last year, and we're still humming that catchy little thing.
Tell us: Do you think Harry Connick, Jr. would make a good Idol judge? Which three ladies deserve to get the coveted hometown visits — and who should be sent packing tomorrow night? Hit the comments and let us know!