Above and beyond all its competition rivals, “American Idol” truly makes its coronation night a time of celebrating the season and its top contenders, and May 13’s Season 14 finale was jubilant and energized beyond most in recent memory. The votes had ordained that Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani would be the two princes contending for the title, and following a night of top notch selections, both experienced dream come true collaborations on stage, but they were not alone in sharing sensational stage moments. The superstars had as much fun as the stars in the making!
Fall Out Boy opened the night with “Centuries,” and Fradiani and Beckham both gave evidence of what brought them to the finals, as accomplished street and stage performers, seasoned from years of performing, neither looked like a less-than against be accomplished band, and spirits were already soaring. “It’s going to the tight,” proclaimed Ryan Seacrest. The judges made a spectacular entrance, Harry Connick, Jr. in tux, Keith Urban stylishly suited, and Jennifer Lopez in elegant black lace. Tyanna Jones returned with her blue coiffe and buoyant energy, performing with the Jacksons, and taking everyone with heart or ears on a journey across time. Jones showed such poise and perfection in her song and her choreographed steps, she easily could be an adopted sister to the family, and they surrounded her in love at the close, while standing ovations were all around! The ladies of the Top 12 were tremendous performing with Nile Rodgers and Chic, doing “We Are Family,” their latest song, “I’ll Be There,” and then letting season favorite, Joey Cook, be the first to come out with “Freak Out.” The ladies were working it, and working the cameras, too, while Keith was standing singing along, and Jennifer sang her heart out, too. Ricky Martin had some fine support from the Top 12 guys, and his medley of hits had everyone up and dancing, from “La Vida Loca” to the final chant of “Ale, Ale, Ale!”Adanna Duru was a delight to see doing “Yoga” with Janelle Monae, booties and voices in sync.
Latino star, Prince Royce, had high-power backup for his crossover hit, “Back It Up,” with Jennifer Lopez , and Pitbull providing extra passion and punch. Joey Cook was the perfect choice to perform “Cool Kids” with Echosmith. It was partnership perfection, ending in beautiful tones of Joey’s glorious giggle! When asked who would win, Harry replied, “I have absolutely no idea,” and Keith stood by his “by a hair, Nick” prediction, while Jennifer spoke “I’m gonna say Clark.” This one was far from over, and went right up to the wire. Keith Urban performed his song, “Even the Stars Fall for You” under the gaze of his beloved wife, Nicole Kidman, in the audience. Jamie Foxx and Rayvon Owen offered Foxx’ emotional ballad, “In Love by Now,” feeling every note. Asked to sum up his Idol experience, Clark Beckham explained that winning was about “being good at a lot of things” before presenting his good friend, Pastor Phillips, with a vehicle from Ford, at the same time that Nick got to do the same for guitarist friend, Nick Abraham. The boys were completely unsuspecting when Ryan Seacrest announced that they would be getting their own Ford Fusions, too! Daniel Seavey was adopted as a member of New Kids on the Block, being quite nimble on his feet, despite being teased about me feet. He was high-stepping just fine, and Donnie Wahlberg gave him a big hug before all the other hugs came. They don’t move too bad for middle-aged dad and granddad’s!
Quentin Alexander and Vance Joy sang like brothers from another mother on “Riptide,” so much so that an album from them is easy to imagine the future. Big Machine label head and mentor, Scott Borchetta, made it clear that there was no time for resting on a title for the winner, with radio and retail tours waiting, on top of attending the CMA’s, and recording a new album. Chris Brown and Pitbull had fun performing “Fun” with Qaasim Middleton, who is plenty of fun on his own, but the fun level was ramped up several notches by Steven Tyler, who performed a track from his upcoming country album, “Love Is Your Name,” before fulfilling his promise to JAX, doing “Piece ‘O My Heart,” so passionately that they could dare resist spreading themselves out across the judges’ desk. It’s only rock ‘n roll, after all! This time, before she left, JAX gave thank you’s to everyone, including Steven Tyler. It was dream come true time for Clark Beckham and Michael McDonald, side-by-side, seated in dueling pianos, performing “Takin’ It to the Streets” as if they did it every day. When Ryan Seacrest talked to the Fradiani family, senior Fradiani said he was most proud that the whole world got to see his son’s talent, thanks to “American Idol,” and that talent was on display again with Andy Grammer as the two performed “Back Home” which he sure to make Nick’s concert set. Grammer’s hit, “Honey I’m Good,” got everyone up, including Keith Urban, to a standing ovation. The clapping chorus only heightened the joyful mood with spirits shining.
The judges weren’t through dazzling, either. Jennifer Lopez sparkled as she sang the opening to “Diamonds,” before diving into “Locked out of Heaven.” The panel not only proved that they were sensational stars, but that they were truly cohesive collaborators. The moment of the evening finally arrived, and it was all up to the votes. Clark graciously said that he would never pick another person other than Nick with whom to share his competition journey, and Nick commended Clark as “the finest musician” with whom he had ever worked. Their mutual admiration is real. The lighrs dimmed for the last time in Season 14, and Nick was welcomed as the 2015 “American Idol” titleholder!