Jessica Meuse ‘Mad’ at Harry Connick Jr. Over Harsh Criticism [Interview]

American Idol 2014 Top 10 finalist Jessica Meuse is “mad” at judge Harry Connick Jr. over his harsh criticism of her performance of “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People. She says the American Idol judge just didn’t get what she was trying to do with the song.

“I knew that song was going to promote controversy,” Jessica said in an interview with Synergistic Productions. “But I just wanted to do it because it’s just such a well-written song. It’s almost like ‘Goodbye Earl’ by the Dixie Chicks.”

Jessica Meuse on American Idol

“They talk about murder and it’s like all happy and it’s all hidden with this really joyful, awesome melody,” Jessica said. “And so I was kind of playing with that, because I feel like it’s such a well-written song. And I respect them as artists so much for doing something like that.”

Jessica was quick to repeat, however, that she does “not promote any homicidal activity whatsoever. Or violence against any human being because that is just mean and you should not do that. You should be nice and love each other.”

As for Harry Connick Jr.’s extremely negative critique of her performance, Jessica Meuse says the American Idol judge “made me mad!”

“He was being like I promote that kind of activity. I’m like ‘no Harry, no’ — it’s juxtiposition of music. I don’t want him to be mad at me because I really like Harry,” Jessica said. “J-Lo totally understood. What she said was exactly what I was focusing on, and it’s exactly what I did, and I’m really happy the point got across and she called it out.”

Source: Interview courtesy of Synergistic Productions





  1. Go Jessica! Harry just wants something to pontificate about. Since he couldn’t fault the vocal he had to find something to belittle. There are far too many police procedural TV shows for anyone to be unaware of sociopathic people. Cordial serial killers, cheerful mass murderers and amiable villains abound. Screw Harry.

    • Stormy, Good for you! I guess I am not the only one who thinks he knows it all. he needs to Listen to Kelly Clarkson’s ” Mr Know it all. “

      • Sherry, I have to disagree. Harry is the most right on! If he were here last season Lazaro wouldn’t have been in the Number 1&2 positions (almost till the end until Nicki finially told him he was flat as a pancke), while Candice was in the bottom two. CJ Harris is last years version of lazaro and while Keith and JLo have kid gloved him, Harry keeps telling him he’s sharp and off key!

      • Champion, I am sorry but I have to disagree. It doesn’t matter about last season. Harry is just way to Picky. Now Picky can be good. But Harry doesn’t much like any of the contestants. If he likes one of them I am like WOW!! Harry actually likes him, or her!! Yes Harry doe’s catch somethings that JLO and Keith miss.. JLO and especially Keith are telling them what they are doing wrong this year! Keith used to be so non talkable that it was bad last season. He is speaking up and teling them things in musical terms. Harry said once ” What did he say”.? I still just think Harry should get just a bit looser. He is being to hard on some of them. But I do not agree that Keith and JLO are wearing kid gloves this year. They are definitely saying more creative things than last year.. Have a nice day Champion. One other thing, I think between the 3 judges that sometimes they confuse the contestants. Wouldn’t you agree with that? By the way champion, Nice to see you again this year! Sherry K

      • The reason Keith & JLo (for that matter) have been saying more is because of Harry–who has opened up intelligent dialogue about music, its impact and what it means to be an ‘artist’ in today’s world. That’s something to be commended not condemned. Let’s face it, the music industry has played a huge role in the dumbing-down of young minds. It’s about time a member of the music industry (a well-respected one) help open minds about re-defining an ‘idol’.

      • Some good points! The Voice just seems to praise all contestants (nothing much to help improve their performance) but keeps the show all positive which seems to work for the ratings anyway. No great breakout yet! I think Danielle Bradsberry could be the first though. Voice uses all Pro/Semi pro
        contestants Worldwide whereas AI uses only American made. Recently though AI is using pros like Jena Asciutto- one of her relatives put somewhere here that she has 12 originals (at age now 17). That’s why I believe they dropped her last name (and other girls) so as to hide this?

      • Harry pretty much does know it all.
        Even though I don’t agree with all of his comments to Jessica this past week, there is still likely something she can take from them and use to improve her performance on the next round.

  2. And yet no one takes offense to the song lyrics that Sam sang in We Are Young which promotes drug use, drinking so much you can’t stand and physical abuse of your girlfriend.

  3. One of Harry’s band member’s and friend lost a daughter ana grace in the sandy hook shooting.

    • That doesn’t mean he should judge a national talent show from a skewed perspective. The producers cleared the song and if he bothered to attend rehearsals he could have vented then. Let him take his issue with the song to the songwriters. He was out of line.

  4. I think Harry’s comments are too harsh too! But really Who caresat he say’s? The other two judges disagree with him. And JLO stuck her tongue out at him. Go girl.

    • Yeah, that was really ‘telling’ him–very mature indeed. Who could argue against such an intelligent response like sticking-out your tongue?

      • Since it a family show, JLo could scarcely tell him he’s an a-hole. i find her childlike response endearing, particularly since her kids probably do that.

      • Hey Stormy (your name says it all…), since when does imparting an intelligent critique about song interpretation make a judge an ‘a-hole’–especially when that judge knows what he’s talking about from a purely musical stance, and the feedback ultimately helps the contestant improve their skill as an artist? JLo’s ‘childlike’ reaction was childish, hardly ‘endearing’ and proof of her inability to communicate intelligently on the same level as Harry & Keith.

      • His job is to judge the performance, not the material. If the producers OKd the song, then his issue should be with them. He’s turning into a jerk.

      • What is the performance if it isn’t the material? The show is “American IDOL” not “Glee”. Artistry is more than just being able to sing–which was established when the contestants got into the finals. The word ‘idol’ suggests way more than just to sing well. It’s not about what ‘producers OKd’. If that were the case, then the producers would’ve been the judges. Harry’s not a ‘jerk’, he’s a judge (OKd by the producers–by the way). His job is to judge not mentor the contestants. This is a competition not a karaoke hang-out–these contestants knew what they were in for.

      • Watch the video by Foster The People on youtube. It’s their song. Count all of the smiling faces. The band smiles when they do the song. I guess you know better than them, huh? You must work for Harry.

      • Harry is great. Because of this particular song, it is likely the only time I would disagree with his fundamental premise that the lyric is something that has to be fully understood and conveyed correctly by the singer. In just about any other song, I would agree with him, but this one is more along the lines about what Jennifer said, that the jaunty tune is played against the lyric, not with it. On purpose.

  5. Harry was spot on. The singing was decent but, he was right to question her interpretation–which is an important component to artistry. If you listen to the original interpretation by “Foster The People” (the name of the group says it all, I think), the song is sung with a cold, ironic spin. It isn’t done as a ‘happy’ tune. The melody is not happy–it has an anticipatory, almost suspenseful, metronomic beat to it–the point of the melody was to emphasize the ironic lyric content. (Let’s face it, the irony of a nation that protects ‘freedom’ means that many will lose that freedom at the receiving end of a gun–which has, sadly, become an all too frequent tragedy.). Keith’s argument had more to do with the quality of Jessica’s singing–which was better as compared to past performances. His argument, however, lost credibility when he said ‘despite the lyric’–which Harry, again, was right to point out that “Pumped Up Kicks” is ALL about the lyric and not just the melody (because the melody supports the song’s ironic message). A point that obviously got lost and went over JLo’s pretty little head. Good Harry for sticking to your ‘guns’!

    • Thank you for stating exactly what I thought about Foster the People’s video. IMO, Jessica didn’t do the song justice. The original musician’s video was showing how disconnected the young audience was from the words of the performers. When a mass shooting occurs, all the friends say, “I didn’t think he would do this.” They are superficial…going for the fun beat and missing the true danger behind the words.

  6. Jessica’s start on her last performance was rough as a cob. She’s trying to sound like Stevie Nicks but comes off with more of the swimmers nose clip sound-like “Jake Bugg!”

    • I thought it was Jessica’s best, most comfortable performance of the competition. She finally understood the cameras, and used them.

  7. If I wanted to win American Idol, I wouldn’t use a song as Jessica said,

    “I knew that song was going to promote controversy,” I would use a song that people voting for me would like. Lost a lot of votes doing it HER way.

  8. Annaka Turner, shame on you! This article was written for no other reason than to sabotage Jessica. All the singers are trying the best they can under great pressure. You have singled Jessica out to create controversy…WTH!! What did she ever do to you? You should be fired for writing an article like this about only one of the contestants..totally unfair, when they depend on the public votes to keep them in the competition. I’m sure that almost all the contestants have said that they are mad at, or don’t agree with the judges’ critiques at some point or another, because the judges’ comments influence votes. To slam an active contestant is irresponsible, unfair, and sleazy! BAD journalism!

    • More of the contestants need to be slammed by the media, because several in the Top 13 were absolutely not good. Kristen – never should have been there. Emily – never should have been there. MK – never should have been there. Majesty – never should have been there.

      • I just wanted to say that this should absolutely NOT be happening. Focusing this whole subject on one contestant only, along with the fact that they are still in the competition makes it unacceptable to make an article about this. It’s like the author is trying to send contestants home just because they don’t like said contestant. Very rude, and very shameful.

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