Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 2

We got into the Finale week of American Idol Season 14 deadlocked with two strangely different yet similar contestants.

Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani. Two contestants who have done quite a bit of damage on this show in the past few months and who gave it their all tonight - Oh, and Jax was eliminated in what was one of the most sad eliminations on the show's history. Seriously. You had the girl prepare three songs and not let her sing, at least, once?

That said, the show's final performance night was as solid as I expected thoroughly enjoying every single one of them. There's no dud, just pure music entertainment. I will miss this.

For those that don’t know how I do this, I break the rounds up and judge them individually, pointing out winners of each round as I go, and then make my prediction at the end of my article.

So, without further ado, let’s do this. 

Round 1: Reprise

Clark Beckham
Georgia On My Mind
This was a very smart choice for a reprisal. Clark first performed it more than ten weeks ago when she was just starting out at the House of Blues. It's unlikely it will sound stale to the audience, and he somehow worked it even better now than he did back then. Yes, it was still the usual old school song choice with his usual soulful affectations, but if it's this good, who am I to complain? His ability to connect strongly with the lyrics was what made this really good. 8.5

Nick Fradiani
Bright Lights
The interesting thing about this Clark-Nick finale is how different they are in terms of their performances. I agree with Harry, Clark is more of an inward performer while Nick uses the stage to really connect with the audience. On paper, I would've picked Back Home or What Hurts The Most for his reprise, but watching this made me think that he had a clear strategy. He's not just a good vocalist, but he's also a great performer. 8

VERDICT: I'd say Clark Beckham won this by a hair.

Round 2: Simon Fuller's Choice

Clark Beckham
Ain't No Sunshine
I genuinely had doubts when I heard Simon gave this to Clark. Seriously. It's another overdone song choice and another throwback soulful song for him especially after he did Georgia On My Mind in the first round. Fortunately, Clark was smarter than I initially expected. The acoustic arrangement of Ain't No Sunshine backed by his soaring vocals was brilliant and while it was still pretty laidback, it gave a different feel compared to his first performance. The first verse was divine. 8.5

Nick Fradiani
I Won't Give Up
While I Won't Give Up was a pretty solid song choice for Nick and that he did try something new with himself playing the piano, I would've liked a different song for him. Yes, his tone was on full display here and there's intensity in his delivery, but there’s one problem.. Clark Beckham. He’s a vocal powerhouse and he does this better than him. It gave him a direct comparison to his competitor and he paled in comparison. So, unfortunately, giving Nick this song and with that staging and arrangement was like arming a soldier with a pointy piece of cheesecake and sending them into battle. It just didn’t fit. 7

VERDICT: Clark Beckham. Easily. 

Round 3: Winner's Single

Clark Beckham
Ah, yes. The dreaded Coronation Song, or as they refer to them nowadays, the "Winner's Single". Clark closed his performances tonight strong with a single that had a bit more of a coronation song than Beautiful Life, but also had a significantly higher cheese factor. To be honest, this sounded like a decent coronation single compared to previous seasons. He sounded mostly fine in terms of his technical vocals, but he did seem a bit awkward walking around the stage - something which he didn't do until last week's mess Beautiful Day. 7

Nick Fradiani
Beautiful Life
Like Home did for Phillip Phillips back in Season 11, Nick was lucky to sing a less drivel and more commercially accessible material. To me, Beautiful Life was the more contemporary and relevant tune. Nick used this upbeat anthem to take control of every inch of that stage and beam at the audience. When his voice soared, it soared high, and we saw that he was having an epic amount of fun up there. It was certainly a strong finish. 9

VERDICT: No contest. Nick Fradiani.


1. Beautiful Life
Nick Fradiani

2. Georgia On My Mind
Clark Beckham

3. Ain't No Sunshine
Clark Beckham

4. Bright Lights
Nick Fradiani

5. Champion
Clark Beckham

6. I Won't Give Up
Nick Fradiani


1. Nick Fradiani
There's something about Nick Fradiani that clicked tonight - and for the past couple of weeks, to be honest. Based from his previous performances and tonight, he looked like he genuinely fighting really hard to win. HE WANTED TO WIN! He sounded good on most of his numbers, he looked like a legitimate star, and he managed to end the show with an excellent Winner's Single.

2. Clark Beckham
By my count, he clearly won with two rounds under his belt. He was solid throughout the night, but his less than stellar single Champion made him look like a runner-up to Nick. I don't know. I have been a fan of Clark since Hollywood Week and it's odd to see myself put him at this spot.

Prediction will be on another post!  


Anonymous said...

It's really hard for me to care about the finale this year without Jax or Joey. That being said, I've liked Nick since the beginning (I would have put him in 3rd place behind the two J's).
Clark on the other hand... I just don't get. I would have rather seen Rayvon in the finale than this guy.

And since it seems like Clark is going to win, this will be yet another year where I just can't get behind the winner of AI. And it looks like The Voice is going to be similar this season (if Sawyer wins)... which, if I remember correctly, is the 1st time since season 2 where I felt the winner didn't deserve it.

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