American Idol has made a smart choice in adding neo-jazz legend Harry Connick, Jr. to their new judging panel this season. He’s intelligent, honest, funny, and actually (gasp) knows something about music. In fact, he’s so confidently candid that it makes me wonder whether the judges are back to actually making their own choices about who to let through, as opposed to reading their lines from executive producer Nigel Lythgoe off camera. (But I digress. Segue!) Sadly, this clip shows that he’s almost too good for America. Various Idol contestants seem genuinely unsure who he even is.
“I’m actually the biggest celebrity, which is why I’m actually a hologram. I’m at home in my bed right now.”
Notice they ALL seem to know who female judge Jennifer Lopez is, but if this educational clip is any indication (brief mild language note) Connick pretty much PWNS her on the musicianship front, and he also thinks more deeply about the contestants than “Licks and runs! Oooooh, aaaah!” It’s like we got Simon Cowell back, but minus the nasty ego. I’ll take it!
Connick is one of several outspoken Christians who also have a significant presence in the secular entertainment world (Jim Caviezel is another example). Curiously, but perhaps not surprisingly, it seems easier to find Catholic examples of this than Protestant examples. This is definitely a two-sided coin. It gives the Christian entertainer a golden opportunity to be visibly different from the world while also pressuring him to conform. In a couple upcoming posts on Christians in entertainment, I will show how Connick demonstrates both sides of that coin. As many of you know, our own rising star Amber Nelon Thompson declined the opportunity to step into that world. Watching its pressures at work on both sides of the table, even on someone as secure as Connick, reinforces the wisdom of her choice to me. It’s been instructive to watch him try to offer some push-back against that influence, yet simultaneously make concessions to it. To be continued…