Though Connick questioned Fradiani’s choice in the video package before the performance, he did tell the finalist after that he “liked the energy.”
Jennifer Lopez was more effusive, saying, “See – that‘s changing the song and making it your own in the best way. That was amazing. I could hear it on the radio today.”
Keith Urban agreed, “I thought it was a killer song for you – only because the spirit of the song … was right. It played to all of your strengths.”
And, once Connick took the stage for his own impromptu performance, Fradiani couldn’t resist ribbing the judge: “Harry I’m sorry,” he joked. “It was okay. It was a subpar performance. I’m sure you’ll get them next week.”
Fradiani later told PEOPLE that taking the Idol stage “felt good finally. It took a little while, but I felt comfortable today.”
He continued, “I think what helped me this week is that I was very involved in putting together the arrangement … and I felt more connected to it than I have in weeks past. I’m not treating it like a contest anymore because that just wasn’t working for me. I’m a competitive person, but, when it came to music, it was never about competition.”
American Idol airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.