Harry Connick Jr. Steals American Idol Premiere

Harry Connick Jr. said no a lot. So we know the rookie American Idol judge is not a yes man. But despite his unwillingness to give just anyone a golden ticket, I think Connick just might steal the show on this, the 13th season of American Idol.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still 100 percent behind Keith Urban. And he is still 100 percent committed to being the guy who can critique without humiliation.

But on Wednesday’s (Jan. 15) season premiere, Connick won the charm-off. He is slightly old-fashioned, very sweet and funny as hell. And on top of that, he has the technical precision to give each contestant some seriously helpful advice. At one point during the show, Jennifer Lopez even told him, “You know too damn much.”

So the big news from the new season kickoff is that Connick is the best thing to happen to this show since Urban.

The other big news? The chamber. It’s like an elevator-sized waiting room for one with cameras and a mirror. Contestants go there to get nervous before their audition. I think the producers must have felt that without the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey cat-fighting at the judges’ table, they needed to make up for the drama with the contestants’ angst.

My top three favorite contestants so far are Sam Woolf from Florida, Madelyn Patterson from Georgia and Austin Percario from New Jersey. They all earned high praise from Urban. High praise from him usually consists of a “good Lord” or a “baby,” but he’s also very effusive with his praise about tone, range and pitch.

Also, this is just a little sidebar: Why are the terrible singers on Idol always the most confident?

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.