Thursday, May 28, 2015

American Idol Season 14 Finale Wrap-Up

A night off from Stanley Cup Playoff intensity, gives me a brief chance to formally wrap up this season of American Idol coverage. Next year, at this time, it will supposedly be gone forever. It's been over two weeks now though since the last episode, so I am going to have to try to see what thoughts are still in my head:

Who should have won American Idol: Nick Fradiani
Who I predicted would win American Idol: Clark Beckham
Who won American Idol: Nick Fradiani

I have said throughout the season enough already that Tyanna Jones deserved to go further than she did, but for the first time ever, we were left with not one, but two white guys, with guitars, and the result was somewhat surprising to me. While I thought Nick got the best on the night of the Final Two, due in large part to a better "coronation song", Clark was considered a heavy favorite throughout the season in my mind. However, I spent virtually no time looking at Idol blogs over the past several months, so perhaps Nick was always more of a contender than I imagined. I thought he came on really strong at the end, but for much of the early part of the season, he came across to me as out of place on American Idol and somewhat desperate to make something of a career that never really had taken off by his relatively advanced age of 29.

Nonetheless, the oldest contestant, the one that the other kids were referring to as "Grandpa" won it all. Either something clicked with him in the last few weeks that made him sing better and look far more comfortable or he was playing rope a dope for a long time previously. All things considered, I was surprised that someone as old as 29 could win, and that a singer from the blue state of Connecticut could beat someone from the red state of Tennessee in a one on one contest. For much of Idol history, the show has been dominated by the southern states. I do not think this has implications for actual politics, but I do think it is very possible that the crashing ratings of American Idol involved a lot less conservatives watching the show. Clark clearly had a bit of a religious background to his music history and life and Nick did not give much of a hint as to his religiosity. Both guys seem like they come from decent families though and interestingly enough, both have received far more fame via their music than their fathers did in their many years of performing.

At various points in the season, I compared the eventual-runner up Clark to past winner Taylor Hicks, in terms of their white guy soul stylings. Clark seemed a bit more reserved and guarded though than Mr. Soul Patrol ever did. I wonder if the video clip of Clark seeming a bit stubborn over a song choice and telling the mentors that he was prepared to lose based on his principles might have hurt a bit.

Early in the season, I made reference to Nick being the "poor man's David Cook or Kris Allen." That was of course a reference to two past winners, back when Idol was going strong, and also the two who ushered in the Reign of White Guys With Guitars. Both Cook and Allen, have not exactly had monster careers since the show has ended, but have made a living doing what they love, and have had more opportunities than they would have otherwise had. That is probably also going to be the case for Nick Fradiani. I do not know how truly marketable either he or Clark Beckham would be, and it will be interesting to see if his signing with Big Machine Records is going to involve him being somehow geared towards pop country music. Nick proved to be fairly versatile with his singing, but country would not be the right alley for him.

So, that's about it. The season as a whole had some high points and low points. Obviously, the elimination of the Results Night and the truncated format made for some unusual and awkward moments for long time Idol watchers. I do appreciate the fact that for the first time in several years,  there were no duets, or trios, or group numbers (besides for a couple half-hearted sing along ones) as a formal part of the competition. The old group numbers on Results Night used to be fun though, so those were missed.

As far as I can remember, American Idol went the entire season without acknowledging the first ever deaths in the contestant family, as two contestants from Season 7, including the once highly touted Michael Johns, passed away during the show's most recent hiatus. That was too bad, regardless of the circumstances of how he might have died. Perhaps, they can remedy that in Idol's farewell season.

It was also interesting that the most recent winner, Caleb Johnson, was basically ignored the entire season. In all past seasons, the most recent winner has been invited on to perform and talk about their new album, and usually also played a big part at the Finale. Caleb never sang on the show. We just saw him sitting in the audience during the Finale, and not even being formally acknowledged as he was standing on stage as Nick was announced the winner. (In fact, Seacrest took the microphone trophy from him to give to Nick himself) was a bit of a slap in the face to the sometimes controversial winner of Season 13.

That just goes to show for the new winner Nick, that like many other winners, "Idoldom" can be fleeting. The first winner of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson will be remembered for a long time, and perhaps there will be a big draw for some talented singer in 2016 to go down in history as the last ever American Idol.


At 10:51 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, I believe that the Idol powers will manipulate votes to get a girl winning for 2016 when the final season comes next year!


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