American Idol Finale Recap: Cool Kids

American Idol Finale

“American Idol” has its Season 14 winner. Since I’m actually posting this the night of the show for once, I’ll play coy about who that winner is until the end of this (likely somewhat short) recap. All I’ll say is, I’m happy with who won. (Since I stated in my recap earlier today that I would be fine with whoever won, I’m sure this doesn’t help you.) So, a few random thoughts about the 2-hour proceedings:

  • I actually didn’t hate the opening number with Fall Out Boy (featuring Clark and Nick). Since I recall tweeting gleefully when Fall Out Boy took a hiatus a few years ago…the times, they are a-changin’. (And it’s not because of Patrick Stump’s recent stint on “The Sing-Off.” He didn’t even say that much then.) Maybe it’s because of the prominent, deliriously catchy sample from Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” that “Centuries” uses? Sure, let’s go with that. Clark didn’t sound terribly at home, but Nick did great.
  • Tyanna’s number with the Jacksons (well, three of them, anyhow)…well, she sounded great. They…were there. Hey, at least she probably got more lead singing time than most of the other contestant-special guest pairings of the night (probably because she was the only one who could actually still sing…yeah, it was that sketchy for them).
  • Nile Rodgers with the Top 6 girls…kind of all over the place. Though Sarina-Joi (who’s way more than her 12th place finish, thank you very much) and Adanna had some nice moments. Joey didn’t sound too bad either.
  • When it comes to Ricky Martin, I love his 1998 CD “Vuelve,” and a few of his later hits (most of them in Spanish), plus his latest album was pretty darn good. That said…his new single (I got confused and thought it was an old hit, then wondered why I had never heard of it in my life) is abysmal, he wasn’t the greatest live, and despite being an occasional longtime fan of his, I wasn’t digging this, especially when the Top 6 Guys came out and tried to sound good on “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” (“She Bangs,” weirdly enough, worked much better for their voices. “The Cup of Life,” I’m pretty sure all of their mics were off by then.) Yeah. I’ll stick to “Vuelve,” thanks.
  • I love Janelle Monae. A lot. But wow, is “Yoga” really not her best. At all. I would have rather had her sing pretty much any one of her other songs, because she didn’t come off that great here. Also, Adanna had pretty much zero solo time to show off her stuff in this performance. After the last two rocky numbers, I was hoping against hope for something good to come along by this point, and the usually reliable Monae letting me down was a bummer.
  • Prince Royce…sigh. Nope. Just nope. I can’t stand him in Spanish, and I can’t stand him in English either. Adding J.Lo and Pitbull to the proceedings did not help matters whatsoever. No quiero nada de esto.
  • I had missed the Fall Out Boy and Tyanna/The Jacksons performances when watching live, so Echosmith’s turn singing their hit “Cool Kids” with Joey Cook was a sweet oasis in a desert of performances that had me dying inside at the state of pop music today. (A bit over-dramatic, I know, but you get the idea.) Echosmith’s lead singer wasn’t terrific live, but Joey sounded excellent, and provided some interesting harmonies (she was singing a full octave lower than the lead singer, someone I was watching the first hour with astutely pointed out). Get that girl to a studio, stat!
  • While I’ve never really been a huge fan of Keith Urban’s music, I respect the guy a ton and he has a terrific voice. (A voice that for years, I’ve been flabbergasted sounds completely non-Australian.) He’s a great live performer to boot. It was fun seeing his wife Nicole Kidman sing along in the audience, too (though Fox, we totally know who she is…we didn’t need you flashing her name on the screen).
  • I was afraid Jamie Foxx was going to rap or something, but he ended up singing a nice little ballad instead, and Rayvon sounded terrific with him on it. Crisis averted. Good music made. Also, let’s get Rayvon some post-show success, please.
  • Remember my semi-involuntary habit of blurting things out in worry/fear/disgust (?) when Daniel Seavey had his nightmarish run on the show this season? It happened again when he walked up to the New Kids on the Block in their rehearsal. A panicked “Oh, no…” just came out of my mouth. I couldn’t stop it. So…can we just not speak of this again? The way NKOTB sounded, I wondered how they ever became popular. And Daniel…well, I don’t know what I can say that I haven’t already said. So yes. We won’t speak of this again.
  • Quentin Alexander and Vance Joy on “Riptide”? Spectacular. The crowd trying to clap along? Ugh. So off-beat. Minus them, this was a great chance for Quentin to shine (he sounded great even though the song was at its normal tempo, not the slow-jam version he did earlier in the season), and Vance Joy was a welcome change to pace from…well, a few other things that happened tonight, you know.
  • I didn’t really pay attention to Pitbull, Chris Brown, and Qaasim’s performance, and I don’t really think I missed out on much. Sad, but true. (I like Qaasim, but like they gave him much to do anyway…)
  • Clark sounded nice on “Takin’ It To The Streets.” Michael McDonald…well, he’s a bit older than he was, that’s all I say about that. Nice piano jamming by Clark, too, I might add.
  • Yeesh, Andy Grammer’s low range on the beginning of “Back Home” with Nick was atrocious. Not really a nice way to put that. But he sounded much better on “Honey, I’m Good” (which he also sang on “Dancing With The Stars” a week or two ago). As for Nick, he did great on both numbers. What if he’s the next Andy Grammer? Hmmm. Food for thought, perhaps.
  • Steven Tyler sang what I presume was a new single (it was a country song, which was interesting, but he sounded great, though he looked as crazy as ever), and then Jax joined him on stage for a take on “Piece of My Heart.” Couldn’t hear Jax that well, but she and Steven were clearly having the time of their lives, even laying down on the judges’ table at one point. May you keep rocking on, Jax.
  • In my brief time as a viewer of “The Voice,” I remember the four coaches performing together to open the show (this was back in season 1, if I recall correctly). “Idol” took a page from that playbook and had J.Lo, Harry, and Keith team up for first, Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” with J.Lo on the vocal (um…she’s no Rihanna, let’s put it that way), and then “Locked Out of Heaven” with Keith first taking the lead, then J.Lo backing him up a bit, while he shredded it on the guitar. (This was much better.) Dang it, Harry was relegated to some short piano solo stuff. Why couldn’t you let him sing, “Idol”? That said, it was fun seeing the three together…they really do seem to get along nicely.

After a long 2 hours, they finally announced the winner of “American Idol” Season 14…

Nick Fradiani!

A clearly emotional Nick capped the show off with a reprise of his single “Beautiful Life”…well, at least part of it, before he bent over, overcome with the weight of the moment, in front of the judges’ table, then went through the crowd to hug his family, Scott Borchetta, all kinds of people, really. It was a great moment for sure. I really hope Nick takes off after the show…although, as I’ve repeatedly said, he’s certainly not the winner I would have picked at the start of this whole shindig, he really worked hard for the “American Idol” crown, and I think he has a lot of potential for success after the show, even if he doesn’t have as much exposure as past winners (due to the much lower viewership). The best of luck, Nick. I’ll be checking out your debut album for sure. And “Beautiful Life” is likely to find its way into my playlist…

Thanks so much to all of you who have read my recaps this season. I’ve spent most of this recapping experience wondering if anyone has been following these, but it’s been a great experience all the same, and a great chance to keep up with “Idol” in its first season since I’ve come back from Peru. See you later with a best performances of the season post, plus lots more great music here on Harmony Avenue.


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