Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Finale Part 2: Season 14 Winner Crowned

Welcome back. The American Idol champion will either be Clark Beckham or Nick Fradiani. Tonight there will be a lot of performances, a lot of video packages and not a ton of results until the last minute of the show, so we will try our best to make the recap as concise as possible. From the reviews online, the seemingly incredibly reaction in the audience, and general judge's feedback and support it would seem that Nick won the show. But anything can happen, Clark could win also, it wasn't 100% clear cut, so we will have to wait and see.

Before we get to the Finale recap we want to recognize the Top 12 contestants and Season 14 of American Idol in general. With next season being the last we don't know what time we will have to do this kind of Season Review, but we at least wanted to bring it to you this year. Hope you enjoy. If you rather just read the Finale recap then feel free to scroll down the page, but we do hope everyone checks it out:

Season 14 Review

Season 14 Awards & Superlatives
Best Performance 
Jax (I Want To Hold Your Hand-Audition)
This set the bar for this season. Her audition was a little preview of what we were going to get this season, in terms of talent, creativity and importance on song choice for all the contestants.

Most Resilient Award 
Rayvon Owen

Due to the advent a.k.a. taking the idea from The Voice, the Fan Twitter Save was put into place this season. Due to Rayvon's ability to really step up at the right moment he was able to win the Twitter Save 4 times despite being in the bottom 4 weeks in a row. He went from possibly being in 9th place to standing on his own feet and outlasting Tyanna to achieve 4th place. 

Most Messed Up Award
Maddie Walker versus Rachel Hallack- Top 48 Week
Basically Maddie was told she was eliminated, but then after she leaves the judges "spontaneously" decide to bring her back to do a "Sing-Off" between her and Rachel Hallack. They said that they felt it was always close call between Maddie and Rachel and as soon as they eliminated Maddie they rethought their decision.Ultimately, they saved Maddie and eliminated Rachel.  To bring Maddie up, tell her she was eliminated, then to bring Rachel up and tell her she would have made it if they didn't feel a twinge or something came over them when they eliminated Maddie, and then to make them do a Sing-Off, that really didn't make either of them stand out over the other, and then pick Maddie over Rachel was so messed up. 

Most Awkward Moment
Quentin versus Harry Connick Jr
This was a case of misinterpretation versus ill timed emotion. Quentin was upset that his best friend, Joey, was in the Bottom 2, with his other friend Rayvon. But when he said that it was "whack", Harry Connick Jr misinterpreted this to mean that Quentin thought the whole show was whack and told him he could leave at any point. Then Quentin ran up to the judge's table and stood really close to Harry and told him that he was just upset at his friends leaving, not anything bad about the show. No matter how you slice it, or interpret it, that was super awkward. 

Most Shocking Elimination
She had been riding high for awhile. She did stumble the week prior to her elimination, but she brought creativity and there was a uniqueness to her voice that hadn't been heard on the stage before and sicne. She might not have been everyone's favorite, but you at least have to give her credit for trying different things and seeing if they worked.
Runner Up: Jax
In Top 3 Week she was outstanding on 2 out of her final 3 performances but it was the third performance that was her weakest, and given how close the voting has been, the memory of the last performance might have stayed in people's minds rather than her first two. We'll never know if it was her last song that did her in, but it didn't help and she came up just short of making the finale. 

Least Shocking Elimination
He had been pretty awful for awhile, and it took until Top 9 for him to be eliminated. He was Rayvon's first victim in the Twitter-Save. Rayvon out-sung and outlasted him and Daniel, deservedly went home.

Our Top 12 Contestant Season Recap
These are our picks for each contestant's best performance and the average grade they received from us during the season. 

                              12th Place                                               11th/10th Place                                11th/10th Place
                          Sarina-Joi Crowe                        Maddie Walker                                Adanna Duru
Avg Grade:                      N/A                                                       C+                                                       B
Best Performance:  Mama Knows Best(Top 24)         She's Country(Top 11)              Runaway Baby(Top 11)

                     9th Place                                            8th Place                                        7th Place
                       Daniel Seavey                   Qaasim Middleton                                      Joey Cook
Avg Grade:                   D+                                                  C+                                                         B
Best Performance:  I'm Yours(Top 24)                   I Wish(Top 16)                                   Fancy(Top 11) 

                               6th Place                                                                   5th Place       
                         Quentin Alexander                                                       Tyanna Jones
Avg Grade:                            B                                                                                   B+
Best Performance: I Put A Spell on You (Top 24)                                Tightrope(Top 11)

                                 4th Place                                                                    3rd Place
                           Rayvon Owen                                                                     Jax                                  
Avg Grade:                         B                                                                                    B+
Best Performance:        Believe (Top 4)                                                       White Flag(Top 5)

                                     2nd/1st Place                                           2nd/1st Place
                                    Clark Beckham                                            Nick Fradiani
Avg Grade:                                                           A-                                                                     A-
Best Performance:   It's A Man's Man's World(Top 12)        What Hurts The Most (Top 4)

Now let's get to the FINALE RECAP:

Performance #1= Clark and Nick Perform with Fallout Boy. They sing "Centuries", well the lead singer Patrick Stump really sings the main parts and Clark and Nick sing a bit. I love this song, but it doesn't really highlight Nick or Clark that well. 

Performance #2= Tyanna Jones performs with The Jacksons. It's 3 of the original Jacksons. They sing a medly of "I Want You Back", "ABC", "Love You Save", and "Shake Your Body To The Ground". They are obviously missing a big part of the Jacksons but it was alright. Comparing Tyanna to Michael Jackson isn't a fair comparison but they tried.

Performance #3= The Top 12 ladies perform with Sister Sledge. They sing their classics "We Are Family" and "Le Freak". It was nice to see Sarina-Joi, and reminds me that I really am still upset that she was eliminated so early, same with Adanna Duru. There were a lot of strong, creative contestants that were in this season. Maddie, Jax, Joey and Tyanna were all sounding great. Then they say sang Sister Sledge's new song "I'll Be There". It wasn't as fun as the hits, but it was quickly over and they went into "Good Times" and then did Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper Delight". That was a weird end, but I overall I enjoyed this performance.

Perfomance #4= Ricky Martin then performs. He first came out to perform his new song "Mr. Put It Down". He looks really good. He hasn't aged in 20 years, it's really insane actually. Then he performed "Livin La Vida Loca" with Quentin and Qaasim. Not sure if this would have been either Qaasim or Quentin's ideal song to sing, especially Quentin, who is a more moody, emotional kind of singer. But there ya go. Ricky and then the rest of the boys come out to dance. Then Nick, Clark and Rayvon sing a new remixed rock version of "She Bangs". It was cool and sultry.  Then all of the guys and Ricky sing "The Cup of Life" and it's a pretty rocking song. Very high energy.

Performance #5= Janelle Monae comes out to sing her new song "Yoga" with Adanna Duru. While she sings the song "Yoga" her backup singers perform some yoga positions and dance around. It's a catchy song, I didn't really get it for the first minute, and although it's no "Hey Jude" or "Hotel California" it's not bad. Adanna really comes on late to the performance and is just part of the backup ladies, she doesn't stand out at all.

Performance #6= Prince Royce sings his song "Back It Up" and it features Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. It was alright, nothing too special, but it got Jennifer Lopez involved and it seemed to get the audience dancing, so there ya go.

Performance #7= Echosmith performs their hit song "Cool Kids" with Joey Cook. It was in Joey's lane, very chill, very cool. It was a good match of song and style for Joey. The band and Joey seemed to have fun up there and sounded well together.

Performance #8=Keith Urban performs his song "Even The Stars Fall 4 U". Sometimes you forget that these judges are actually really big stars and have big hits, either currently or in the past. This was a nice song and has really lovely lyrics. I am taking a guess and thinking he wrote it for his wife, Nicole Kidman, but that's just a guess.

Performance #9= Jamie Foxx performs "In Love By Now" with Rayvon Owen. Remember when Jamie Foxx was in "Ray" and he won the Academy Award? Yea, now he just sings and does the National Anthem really terribly at boxing matches (Mayweather/Pacquio) and sings with American Idol contestants. This song does suit Rayvon well. Even better than Jamie Foxx, sorry but it's true.

Final 2's Mentors= Nick's mentor is Nick Abraham, his lead guitarist in his band. Pastor Jim Phillips is Clark's mentor and was his choir director in college. Both mentors get a brand new Ford Focus and so did Clark and Nick. That's nice.

Performance #10= New Kids on the Block performs with Daniel Seavey. They perform a medley of "Please Don't Go Girl" and "Step By Step". I think Daniel is still too young and needs his voice to develop a little. When you have his voice meshing with adult men, singing their classic songs, it really doesn't work. But he is still adorable. Then they sing "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)". For some reason it looks like Donnie Wahlberg is wearing a skirt on top of his pants, but hey, that's his personal preference, just not sure why. But it was fun to hear NKOTB perform their hits and try to include little Daniel Seavey. 

Performance #11= Vance Joy sings his song "Riptide" with Quentin Alexander. This is more in Quentin's style, he even performed this song early on. It was beautiful and more mellow than some of the bigger, high energy performances so far tonight.

Performance #12= Pitbull and Chris Brown perform their song "Fun" with Qaasim Middleton. It was "Fun"....yep, I had to say it. It was actually just alright, nothing outstanding. Just another performance I'll probably forget about in 10 minutes.

Performance #13= Steven Tyler sans Aerosmith performs his new song "Love is Your Name". It's actually country-infused and very different than Aerosmith, but Steven's voice is still outstanding. The man is nearly 70 years old and still has one of the best voices in music. Incredible. I actually dug the song, and liked that it wasn't like his old songs, he is trying something different and it worked for me. Then Jax and he performed "Piece of My Heart" and they just blend so well together. Steven just rocks the hell out of this tune, if you missed it check it out on Youtube or something. Jax kills some of her lines as well. This is by far the best performance of the night. Steven Tyler is the ultimate performer. He even gets a little hug and kiss from Jennifer Lopez as a parting gift. Really well done all the way around for Steven Tyler tonight. And after the performance was over, out of the blue, Jax apologizes for not thanking the judges and the audience for her time on the show. Really mature and nice by Jax. It wasn't her fault that American Idol ushered her away like she wasn't actually on the show last night. She did great and was very appreciative of her chance to be on the show.

Performance #14=Michael McDonald and Clark Beckham perform "Takin it To The Streets" in a dueling or at least side by side piano performance. It sounds amazing, but it's not current if that's what you are looking for, but if you are looking to get that from Clark you haven't been paying attention this whole season.

Performance #15= Andy Grammer performs "Back Home" with Nick Fradiani. Nick performed this song last week after his hometown visit. I never heard this song before Nick sang it, and now I really enjoy it. Nick and Andy could be brothers, they have very similar looks and mannerisms. Then they sing Andy's other song "Honey I'm Good". If Nick decides to go this route with his career then he will be in fine shape. This is a great style and sound that Nick should try to emulate.

Performance #16= Judge's Perform. Jennifer, Harry and Keith perform together, just as they did at last year's finale. The first song that Jennifer sings, Keith plays on the guitar and Harry plays on the piano is "Diamonds".  Jennifer sounds and looks beautiful on this version. Then they perform "Locked out of Heaven" and Keith takes lead at first with Jennifer accompaniment and Harry does some great piano work. It was pretty amazing. It was too bad we didn't hear Harry sing, but he can play the piano amazingly.

The time has finally come. The season began in January and it's been a long 4 months but it's time to crown the next American Idol.
Winner of American Idol Season 14

 Nick Fradiani

Final Thoughts

*Nick deserved the win. He had been getting better and better every week and stepping it up. He was definitely one of the biggest underdogs of the season but kept listening to the people helping him, kept growing and ended up being one of the better performers on the show.

*Clark was a great singer, but Nick was an all around great performer.  I think if Clark finds the right lane and sticks to it then he might be able to do well on some charts. I have thought that his old school style was more like Taylor Hicks, but for his sake, I hope Clark has a little more success with his musical career. Obviously, no disrespect to the Season 5 champion.

*There were a ton of performances tonight, so many of them were not actually live, including the judges performances and many of the performances with the contestants. You could tell that it wasn't live when Ryan introduced the performances in the audience, and then the judges magically disappeared, then reappeared, wearing the same clothes they wore from the beginning and their hair didn't move at all. It is what it is, it's 2-hour show, they had to get it in under time, so not surprised that this happened. Just had to make note of it.

**Finally, I say it every year, but I'd like to Thank each and every person that has come to this blog. Whether it be reading it one time, or reading every single recap, we appreciate you reading our thoughts and our opinions about this (sometimes) crazy show. It's a lot of time devoted to a TV show but we enjoy it, and are glad that you do as well. Next season is it for American Idol and for our blog, so please come back, tell a friend, or a few friends and enjoy with us the last season of the show. We will be providing a lot of Idol history, recounting some memorable moments from the past 14 years and seeing if the last group of constants can do the show justice.

*Congrats to Nick Fradiani the new American Idol champion.

Please come on back here from time to time for some Idol news and then we will return with our regularly scheduled blog in January of 2016. So until then, see ya!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 2 Revealed & Perform: Finale Part 1

Welcome back. Obviously before we talk about anything else we have to talk about the big American Idol news...Ryan Seacrest got a haircut. No, for real though, as most people know at this point, after next year, Season 15, American Idol will end. American Idol has been around for a large portion of my life, so for it to be ending is a little surreal, it's a little sad, but it is necessary. The ratings have been pretty weak for a few years now. At its peak in 2006 it managed nearly 36 million viewers for its finale, it's been averaging between 7-9 million this season, with last week actually below 7 million. The show is pretty expensive to make, the artists coming out of the show (at least more recently) haven't made any significant impact in the music industry and it's not as relevant anymore. Even with all that said it's nice that FOX allows the once-most popular reality show juggernaut to have it's proper swan song.  We will have all next season to talk about the show ending and it's impact on the music industry, on the TV industry and pop culture in general, but I would have been remiss without mentioning it.

Anyways on to tonight. It's the Finale! Or at least the performance part of the finale, as soon as the 3rd place finisher is revealed. Once they are revealed we will post our weekly rankings, and regular synopsis.

3rd Place Finisher Revealed
Jax. The news is a bit disappointing. It really is. I think that Clark has been gliding for awhile now and put it all on cruise control. Nick has been really solid but doesn't take the chances that Jax takes. I liked how she tried to make things different, even if they didn't always work. Last week her last performance was her weakest, and sometimes the Idol fans have short memories when they vote. It is what it is, it's just too bad.

Final 2?
Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani. The finale is set, the next American Idol champion will either be Clark or Nick. It hasn't been 2 guys in the finale since Season 8 with Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. Just a little nugget for you there. Anyways, let's get on with our regular recap.

I'dol Be The Judge Rankings-Season Recap
We usually post our power rankings here, but given that this is the finale you never know what can happen. So in lieu of that, posted below is how Clark and Nick fared in our Power Rankings all season long. You'll see that Clark has landed as our number 1 pick more times than Nick, more times than anyone, but the past couple weeks moved him out of that spot, and it's the final weeks that are even more important to be #1 then early on. Nick on the other hand has always been ranked around the 4 spot, but he has gotten better and better in the past few weeks. 

We do these Power Rankings paired with all the other contestants and never do the 2 contestants side by side, so it's interesting to see their two journey's next to each other and see what kind of path they took to get to the finale.
Top 10 Week-Clark # 3, Nick # 4                                             
Top 9 Week-Clark #3, Nick #4
Top 8 Week-Clark #1, Nick #4
Top 7 Week-Clark #1, Nick #5
Top 6 Week-Clark #1, Nick #6
Top 5 Week-Clark #1, Nick #4
Top 4 Week-Clark #1, Nick #3
Top 3 Week-Clark #3, Nick #2
Top 2 Week-Clark #2, Nick #1 

Singing Order
The order in which the contestants perform is possibly very important. Some might say it isn't but let's take a look at some recent Idol history.  Last season Caleb Johnson went last and won, 2 seasons ago Candice Glover went last and won, 3 years ago Phillip Phillips went last and won. The last time the person who went first won the show was Scotty McCreery in Season 10. So although it doesn't mean everything it means something. I mean there is something to be said of being the last voice heard, the last person receiving feedback and praise from the judges.

Finale Performances-Round 1 (Favorite Song From This Season)

Clark Beckham
(Georgia On My Mind-Ray Charles)
This was a great song choice for Clark the first time, and a great choice this time. Clark is most comfortable behind the piano and not looking directly into the camera. His voice is so good, it's strong and he does his thing with it. Is it old-school? Sure. But that's Clark, and he is in the finale, so it's worked out well for him thus far.
Judge's Comments=Keith-Like a whole mess of flapjacks covered with syrup. Jennifer-Always had the talent, and reminded us why he is here. Sang it better than the first time. Harry-Always stretching and pushing, and a great way to start the show.
Our Grade=B+

Nick Fradiani
(Bright Lights-Matchbox Twenty)
Nick singing a Rob Thomas song makes sense in that they do sound very similar, but despite him doing a really nice job with it the first time I would have loved for Nick to try something else. But, and it's a big but, Nick kills this song and proves that he could be be singing these kinds of songs on the radio right now. Clark's song choice of "Georgia On My Mind" is a classic and a more notable song than this one, but Nick sounds a lot more contemporary than Clark this round.
Judges' Comments= Jennifer-Has the voice, the look, the presence, everything it takes what American Idol can be. That was another performance that gets him to the next level. Harry-This is a perfect opportunity for the audience to vote. Nice job. Keith-Not just about the voice, but can I relate, and everyone can relate to Nick.
Our Grade=A

Our Round One Winner-Nick

Performances-Round 2 (Creator (Simon Fuller)'s Choice)

(Ain't No Sunshine-Bill Withers) 
It's another song from over 45 years ago, but that's Clark's comfort zone, that's his bread and butter. I have seen this song done a few times on Idol and it's always different given the type of artist singing it. Clark does an acoustic, vocally charged performance. Clark is just playing his guitar and no band backup at all, just him sitting on the stage. His voice is the best part of him, his focus sometimes shifts, but this song plays on Clark's strengths and he does a great job with it.
Judges' Comments= Harry-Has a lot of guts to do two back to back slow songs. He is more inward and Nick is outward. It was soulful. Keith-That was fantastic. Jennifer-Who was the "she" he is singing to? It was beautiful, heartfelt.
Our Grade=A-

(I Won't Give Up-Jason Mraz)
This entire season, and we are talking 4 months, Nick has been the front guy, the guy with the guitar or rocking out. Tonight Nick is sitting at a piano with all focus on him, no band for at least a verse . It was super smart for Nick to try something different now. He has been deemed as consistent but predictable, this was different, and it proves that Nick can try things different and still sound great. If we did a competition of piano playing between Clark and Nick then Clark would win, but Nick's eyes were wide open and he was in it.
Judge's Comments= Keith-Great song choice. First time he played piano. His heart is so good. Jennifer-Another strong performance, they are going toe to toe. Harry-Strongest thing is how he lays it all out there and it's huge. Emotional, heartfelt performance.
Our Grade=A-

Our Round 2 Winner- Clark (by the smallest little bit)

Performances-Round 3 (Original Song/First Single)

(Champion-Original  Song by Clark Beckham)
One has to remember that this song will be used during the FOX airing of the Women's World Cup, so the songs have to be pretty anthem-y and catchy. Not saying that is bad, just prefacing. I think Clark being more of an inward artist, a more quiet artist, isn't suited the best for this genre, but it is what it is. The song gets people singing along. It sounded like he was catching up to the song at points, but given it is an original song I don't know if it is supposed to sound like that. The judge's can't really bash either song because if the person ends up winning despite them it will be the theme song, so they have to be careful with what they say. Not bad, but definitely not Clark's personality.
Judge's Comments=Jennifer-It's great to see him come into his own. Sounded great. Harry-This is where it gets interesting. Did a good job with it. It's obvious it's a new song. He is just learning it. Keith-It's an inspiring song. 
Our Grade=B+

(Beautiful Life- Original Song by Nick Fradiani)
This song is more in Nick's lane, it just is. It isn't Clark's fault, but it just gels with Nick's voice more. I think Clark's song was a little more catchy, but this song has a great hook. Nick gets a little winded at points and his voice dips at a couple spots, but his energy keeps him going and singing and fighting and it really suits him.
Judge's Comments=Harry-Really enjoyed it. Really strong. Got really lucky because it sounded tailored for him and that's a big deal. Jennifer- Felt amazing when the audience was with him. It was him in the moment. Keith- That's the kind of song people want to buy and see him in concert. Bullseye.
Our Grade=A-

Our Round 3 Winner-Nick


Who Should Win Season 14 American Idol?=Nick. Clark is very consistent, he is a good looking, beautifully sounding guy, but Nick should win. He out sung Clark on at least 2 out of the 3 songs tonight and pushed himself out of his comfort zone a little. That could do it.

Who Will Win Season 14 American Idol?= Nick. I think the last song clinched it for Nick. Like Harry said, that original song sounded tailor made ready for him, while Clark's song did not match him as well. If Clark wins it he wouldn't be the worst Idol winner in history, but Nick deserves it more.

Final Thoughts

*Nick is the kind of artist that American Idol needs to win. Clark has a beautiful, strong voice, and one that can do well on certain charts, but Nick sounds more current and fits the current trends more than Clark. If it was just a pure voice competition then Clark would win hands down, but it's the full package and Nick has the edge.

*With the crazy format being the way it is, with Judge's Saves, with Twitter Saves, with no results shows, I think it would have been amazing to have a 3 person finale. We never got to see Nick versus Clark versus Jax because they didn't do the elimination of Rayvon until after he performed last week. We don't know how Jax's Original song would have sounded compared to the others. I know that the results could have been the same no matter what, and it's always been a 2 person finale for 13 past seasons, but given that the show is going off the air next year, given that we never actually got a Top 3 performances week, and given that all 3 performers prepared for this week it might have been cool and different to see how the finale would have shaken out.

*Because we have 14 seasons of American Idol history to gather facts and figures from let's take a closer look at this finale and what could happen. As we stated earlier there hasn't been an all-male finale since Season 8 when it was Adam Lambert versus Kris Allen. In that finale Kris Allen, the eventual winner, sang last. There has been only 2 other times that it was all male. Season 7 was David Cook versus David Archuletta, David Archuletta sang last and then lost to David Cook. Season 2 was Ruben Studdard versus Clay Aiken, Clay Aiken sang last and then lost to Ruben. So despite the person singing last seemingly looking to be an advantage, it's not as big when it's all- male finale.

*Does any of this mean anything? Nope, but it's something to think about, and next season is the last time to mention any of this. It's also a little taste of all the Idol history we plan on doling out next year. We are going to try to put a lot of Idol history into the blog as much as we can.

This has been a really great season, and we'll finish up with our last blog of the year tomorrow night after the 2 hour finale. We have a few "awards", some recaps of the season and then our full blown recap of the show. So expect a decent sized blog tomorrow. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the show. So come on back here tomorrow and until then, see ya!