Nobody knows the Phantom like the Howard McGillin knows the Phantom. The actor has played the infamous theater-dwelling nuisance a record-breaking 2000-plus times.
So it is high praise when he says that David Cook "nailed" one of the Phantom of the Opera’s most famous songs on last night’s Andrew Lloyd Webber-themed Idol.
The Broadway star told the Extra show: "He nailed it. It’s such a difficult song to sing. He sings with such purity and such a beautiful sound, but he did great."
Howard wasn’t alone. Randy Jackson was just as impressed, even if he phrased his approval slightly differently. Last night the judge called the rendition a "molten-hot lava bomb," while Paula Abdul joined him in admiring David’s "beautiful instrument".
David had looked more than a little uncomfortable when Sir Andrew helped the finalist practice the song by making him gaze deep into his eyes and imagine the 60-year-old songsmith as a sexy teenage girl. But it looks like it was worth the his cringes.
Mr McGillin’s critique will air on tonight’s edition of Extra.