Harry Connick Jr. Kicks Into ‘Dad Mode’ Again After Contestant’s Sexually Suggestive Song

Since I’ve been watching the Olympics for the past two weeks, my “American Idol” viewing fell a little behind before catching up on the DVR this weekend. One of the most interesting moments of Tuesday’s performances by the girls was seeing Harry Connick Jr. kick into ‘Dad mode’ again.

As my fellow Patheos blogger, Catholic Mom Lisa Hendey, wrote about a few weeks ago, Connick questioned the song choice of a 15-year-old contestant who auditioned for the judges with the Grace Potter song “Ooh la la (Paris),” which contains the sexually-charged lyrics:

You got me down on the floor
So what’d you bring me down here for?
You got me down on the floor
So what’d you bring me down here for?

If I was a man I’d make my move
If I was a blade I’d shave you smooth
If I was a judge I’d break the law
And if I was from Paris
If I was from Paris
I would say
Ooh la la la la la la la

Potter herself has said the meaning of the song is basically, “I want to have sex right now.” Connick, a father of three daughters, said he was “creeped out” by a 15-year-old singing these lyrics.

Well, that song was sung again on this past week’s show by 18-year-old contestant Emily Piriz, who explained in the video package leading into her performance that she didn’t choose it because of the lyrics, but rather because of the music’s emotion and female empowerment feel.

After Piriz finished, Connick was respectful and congratulated her on a good performance, but then he asked her to speak the first two lines of the song. She responded, “You’ve got me down on the floor so what’d you bring me down here for?”

Connick then said, “Okay, is that really what you want to sing? I know you said you’re not interested in the storyline. But you’re a singer. This is your choice now; you’re 18-years-old. Is that really what you want to be singing about? I’m just curious. Is that what you want to do?”

Perhaps a little flustered by Connick’s challenge, Piriz answered, “I just chose the song because…I mean, Grace Potter wrote the song because…I mean, yeah, it’s a woman getting what she wants and being powerful, and this is what I want.” (I don’t get how a man telling a woman to get down on the floor is empowering to the woman. But I digress.)

The audience cheered Piriz’s statement, and Connick responded, “Okay, it’s your choice. I just wanted to learn a little bit more.”

Keith Urban then said he wants to make sure that Piriz is being true to the singer they see her as, which was expressed by a more soulful and personal performance of the song “Stars” during Hollywood week. He saw that kind of performance as her strength, not the current one. Though he expressed his opinion a little differently than Connick, the two men seemed to be on the same page.

Some websites have criticized Connick for “shaming” Piriz, but it seems to me that he was simply trying to treat her like an adult and force her to think about the decision of who she wants to be musically. Though his feelings are likely the result of having two teenage daughters himself, it may go beyond that as well.

Connick has built a successful and long-lasting career on singing standards and jazz, among other genres. When you’re singing the songs of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, there’s a level of class to the lyrics that most modern songwriters don’t achieve. And on his latest album entitled “Every Man Should Know,” Connick’s singing about women is refreshingly old-fashioned. The title track, for instance, includes the chorus:

Every man should know how to love her.
Every man should know how to care.
Every man should recognize what she’s saying with her eyes
And help with her burdens to bear.

Connick didn’t try to humiliate Piriz or tell her she shouldn’t sing that type of song. He just challenged her to consider who she wants to be because he knows young people can get lost in the lure of money and fame. That’s not a sign that he wants to shame her; it’s a testament to the fact that he cares about her. It’s something any good Dad would do.

(You can watch the whole segment here:)


Emily Piriz – Paris Oh La La – American Idol 13… by IdolxMuzic

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

  • Jenn

    It’s interesting how the contestant talked about “empowerment”. Just yesterday, I was reading Patti Maguire Armstrong’s blog related to the Miley Cyrus concert. A mom of a 13yo said Miley’s performance was “empowering” for her daughter. Sex ed curriculum, feminist propaganda buzzword?

  • Barbara Bowman

    I appreciate what Harry Connick said. Too many judges would have let it pass.


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