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Back during the Top 24, Nick Fradiani struggled to stand out. But over time, he became more and more certain of his strengths and worked hard to use the judges’ advice, showing more growth than any other top-12 artist. Hard work pays off — or, at least, it should. Fradiani’s Idol arc has been fun to watch, and it seems only natural that it should conclude with him on top.
1. He’s experienced. The judges have been saying it since the very beginning: Fradiani’s age is an asset. At 29, he was the most senior contestant all season. As a result, he has the most touring experience and has had more time to figure out his strengths and weaknesses. His vocals are always precise, but he never got too cocky about his years of experience. He continued to work hard and better himself.
2. He knows who he is as an artist. This is definitely tied to his experience, but all along, Fradiani has carried himself with a self-assuredness about his music and artistry. Harry Connick Jr. pointed out in his initial audition that Fradiani’s genre is a competitive one. There are a lot of guys who can do what Fradiani does, but over time, he has shown that he can do it masterfully. Some of his best performances have been of huge hits like Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night” and Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” but he finds ways to make them his own. There’s something very authentic about Fradiani and an effortlessness to his performances that reflects confidence.
3. He’s peaking. Or, if you’re Jennifer Lopez, he’s “peeeeeaking.” While it’s certainly important to stand out early in the competition, a little bit of momentum can go a long way. Tyanna Jones, for example, started out the season as someone who could win it all, but she started to lose steam in some of her final weeks, and it became nearly impossible for her to top herself. That sounds like a strange thing to criticize, but when it comes down to it, all of the top-12 artists are immensely talented. Any of them could technically be the next American Idol, but it’s always a much more compelling narrative when an artist shows growth. Every week, Fradiani’s song choices became stronger, his performance sensibilities heightened and he provided a clearer picture of what kind of music we can expect from his eventual album. Watching that journey has been exciting.
4. He has strong musical instincts. For the past several weeks, Fradiani has been making the best song choices of any other contestant in the competition. But beyond just that, he has also made really strong choices when it comes to arrangements. With the help of his vocal coach, he came up with a really innovative and catchy arrangement of “Only the Good Die Young” during the top six performances. Fradiani would undeniably put together a thoughtful album because he knows what works for him. At the same time, he’s always very receptive to feedback and has incorporated the notes he has gotten from the judges and Scott Borchetta throughout the season.
5. He has wide appeal. Though Fradiani tends to excel at classic hits that would primarily appeal to an older crowd, his nebulous rock genre has a lot of crossover appeal across demographics, which is why it’s such a competitive category. He might not be the most versatile singer, but some of the most successful Idols have been masters of their respective genres (Kelly Clarkson with pop and Carrie Underwood with country). Fradiani shows that same level of mastery when it comes to contemporary rock.
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