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Harry Connick Jr at American Idol Premiere

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It’s official—Harry Connick, Jr. says he’ll return to American Idol next season.

“I’ve had a blast,” the first-time judge said on a conference call Wednesday morning. “I’ve gone through my negotiation process and I’m going to come back next year. I don’t know about Jen and Keith—I would hope that they’re able to come back, too. It’s just an amazing journey and I look forward to doing it again.”

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Harry admits the chemistry viewers see on screen each week is real, noting it’s tough to fake it on live television.

“We spend a lot of time with each other from the audition stage to backstage to traveling,” he says. “They’re great to be with. Keith is an immensely talented, super bright, fun guy. Impossible not to fall in love with him. He’s just terrific. Jen is as lovely and bright as you would hope. It’s a great combination of us hanging out having fun and being judges on a competition that is to be taken very seriously for these competitors because they’re putting their professional careers at risk by getting up in front of us every week. It spans a gambit and I’ve had a blast.”

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As far as which of the reamining three Idol contestants could take the crown next week, well Harry says it’s anyone’s for the taking.

“They all have strengths and they’re so different, which makes for an amazing competition,” he says. “In a nutshell, Caleb is a very big dynamic performer with a big strong voice. Gina has such variety in her song choices and in her performances from ballads to Benatar. And then you have Alex who has these little idiosyncrasies and small and more delicate performances and this little minutia that goes into his performance. They’re all three very strong and very different.”

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American Idol airs Wednesday, May 15 at 8 PM and Thursday, May 16 at 9 PM on FOX.

Who do you think will be crowned this season’s American Idol? Tell us in the comments or tweet @OKMagazine.

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