'American Idol' Season 14: Why Clark Beckham Should Win (Opinion)

"Not since season 11's Phillip Phillips has there been an Idol winner who will appeal to many different radio formats," writes Billboard contributor Fred Bronson.
Michael Becker / Fox

There will be no small irony when Clark Beckham sings his coronation song Tuesday night as season 14 of American Idol airs its penultimate episode. The tune chosen for him by the Big Machine team is titled “Champion,” and that’s what the 22-year-old Tennessean plans to be — the 14th champion in Idol history.

Here are the reasons why Beckham is going to win:

1. He’s been this season’s winner right from the very beginning. Early in her career, Lily Tomlin was asked when she knew she was a star. She replied that she was always a star, the rest of us just didn’t realize it yet. Beckham began his Idol journey as a star and like his fellow finalists, improved week by week, but he started out in front and he ended the season way out in front as well. An early clue was mentor Scott Borchetta’s declaration that Beckham has the best voice of any contestant. Speaking of which:

2. He’s an extraordinarily gifted singer. I believe that, but those aren’t my words. The quote is from Scott Borchetta, delivered backstage after last week’s show. Don’t be fooled into thinking Borchetta lost faith in Beckham after their “dust-up” two weeks ago in which the finalist stood his ground instead of taking the advice offered by the Big Machine CEO and President. Another Borchetta quote from last week: “He's always saying don’t be afraid to push me and that's why I push him so hard, because he's so talented… He's putting in all the work… and I'm a big fan of his.”

3. He has the best chance of any Idol this season to appear on multiple Billboard charts. Not since season 11’s Phillip Phillips has there been an Idol winner who will appeal to many different radio formats. Look for Beckham on Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40 and Mainstream Top 40. With the right blue-eyed soul performance, he could join artists like George Michael, Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith on the R&B charts and if his faith influences some of his material, he could be a big factor on the Christian charts as well. This crossover appeal will add up to a big number on the Hot 100.

4. He has the likability factor. Don’t discount the fact that Beckham scores full marks on the likability scale. Even when he said on one episode that he “desperately wants to win,” he didn’t come off as desperate or egotistic. One week during a backstage conversation, Beckham said to me, “I hope this doesn’t come off as cocky…” and I wanted to assure him that was not a problem he had to worry about. Being likable is a huge advantage when people are voting for you. Just ask past likable winners like David Cook, Kris Allen and Scotty McCreery.

5. It’ll be the best birthday present, ever. Beckham turns 23 two days after the finale, on May 15. What do you get the man who already has everything? How about a whole bunch of votes?

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