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.
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
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)
(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.
(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 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.
(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 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.
(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 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.
*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!