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The American Idol season-14 finale opened with finalists Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani singing “Centuries” alongside Fall Out Boy. But only one could go down in history as the next American Idol.
Of course, before Ryan Seacrest got to the results, American Idol packed in two hours of exciting performances with season-14 contestants, judges and huge stars from the music industry. To kick things off, fifth-place contestant Tyanna Jones performed a medley with The Jacksons, and it was a stark reminder that Jones should have lasted longer in the competition than she did. At 16 years old, she was one of the most consistent and versatile artists in the competition. She held her own with The Jacksons, and she’s definitely headed for greatness.
Next, Jones joined fellow top-12 ladies Adanna Duru, Jax Cole, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Joey Cook and Maddie Walker for a medley with Nile Rodgers and Chic. Jones, Cole and Cook stood out in particular, but overall it was one of the best group performances of the night. The top 12 this season had so many strong and talented women, so it’s a shame that none of them made it into the finale.
Ricky Martin took the stage next to sing “Mr. Put It Down.” For “Livin La Vida Loca,” “She Bangs” and “The Cup of Life,” he was joined by Beckham, Fradiani, Quentin Alexander, Qaasim Middleton and Rayvon Owen. It was fun to see natural performers Alexander and Middleton back on the stage where they really shine. But the performance definitely highlighted the fact that Beckham is not a dancer.
Wearing a crown because she’s an actual queen, Janelle Monae performed her new hit “Yoga,” and it was everything you can expect from Monae: a fun and artful performance that was impossible to not dance along to. Duru joined her, as well as Jidenna for his verse. Duru sounded great, and let’s just say her dance skills are a little (read: a lot) better than Beckham’s.
“What’s up American Idol? It’s your new boyfriend,” pop singer Prince Royce said as he took the stage next. Slow down there, Royce. Take American Idol on a date first or something. The eager Idol boyfriend was joined by fellow Bronx native Jennifer Lopez for his single “Back It Up,” and J.Lo got to show off those dance skills she’ll be rocking during her Las Vegas residency in 2016. Pitbull also appeared, wearing sunglasses, naturally.
Season 14’s most unconventional artist Joey Cook became a cool kid, performing alongside Echosmith, followed by Keith Urban singing his single “Even The Stars Fall 4 U.” His wife, movie star Nicole Kidman, sang along from the crowd. Jamie Foxx and fourth-place contestant Rayvon Owen performed next, with Foxx on the piano. It was well within Owen’s wheelhouse as a slow and soulful performance.
Seacrest took a chance to check in with the finalists, asking if either of them were nervous at the halfway point. “I think we did the best performances we’ve ever done and did what we wanted to do,” Beckham said of their show last night. “I think we both are deserving of it,” Fradiani said. When asked what surprised them about the competition, Beckham explained that contestants have to be good at a lot more than just singing to make it. Fradiani praised the crew: “They’re so supportive of us.”
Next, Daniel Seavey became the newest kid on the block, joining New Kids On The Block for a performance and learning their signature dance moves. As the youngest contestant in season 14, Seavey continually impressed with his advanced vocal abilities and maturity, but he also went home at the right time.
Quentin Alexander and Vance Joy performed “Riptide,” followed by Pitbull, Chris Brown and Qaasim Middleton singing “Fun.” Middleton honestly outperformed Pitbull and Brown on their own song. They were followed by former Idol judge Steven Tyler, singing his new country single “Love Is Your Name.”
Tyler was then joined by Jax Cole for “Piece of My Heart,” and they both rocked it out, ending on top of the judges’ table. Jax Cole could have so easily been a finalist tonight. This girl can rock. She finally got the moment of closure that eluded her when she was eliminated so quickly last night. After a stellar performance, she thanked her fans for getting her as far as they did.
Beckham then took the stage with Michael McDonald for “Takin‘ It to the Streets,” both playing along on the piano, followed by Andy Grammer and Fradiani singing “Back Home” and “Honey I’m Good.” By this point, even Seacrest was getting antsy for the show to be over with, telling the Fradiani fam that he was getting hungry.
But it still wasn’t quite time for the results. Next, all three judges covered Rihanna‘s “Diamonds,” with Harry Connick Jr. on the piano, Urban on guitar and J.Lo singing. They then transitioned into “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and Urban and J.Lo sang together. It was fun to see the judges on the other side of things for once, and J.Lo looked like an actual diamond.
After one last commercial break, it was time to get down to business. For the final time this season, Seacrest opened the results envelope, and the lights dimmed. Nick Fradiani became the fourteenth American Idol, with Clark Beckham as the runner-up. Fradiani was joined by the rest of the top-12 contestants, and Fradiani accepted his trophy, speechless as Seacrest congratulated him. Then he closed out the show with his debut single “Beautiful Life” as the confetti fell.
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