A good American Idol finale is kind of like the Fountain of Youth — and that’s not only a reference to 43-year-old Ricky Martin, 45-year-old J.Lo and 44-year-old Jordan Knight taking the stage and looking like they halted the aging process back in the late ’90s.
After 13 grueling weeks of voting — encompassing some 250 competitive performances and a pupu platter of “Wait! Noooo!” eliminations — it’d be easy for even the most committed Idoloonie to feel drained, dazed and depleted. And yet tonight’s Season 14 capper proved so fun, so festive and so jam-packed with music — most of it actually pretty good! — I’d be game if Fox told me they’d scheduled the show’s 15th (and final) season to kick off in June. (Don’t get it twisted, ABC. I’m in no way asking for Season 2 of Rising Star.)
The elegantly hypnotic Quentin Alexander brought us a flawless “Riptide” alongside Vance Joy. Eliminated-too-early Sarina-Joi Crowe and Adanna Duru served up ’70s realness alongside Nile Rodgers on a medley of Chic hits. And let’s not forget solid moments for Joey Cook (harmonizing sweetly with Echosmith), Jax (writing on the judges’ table with Steve Tyler) and Tyanna Jones (fronting a geriatric Jackson 5).
Oh, and did I mention Rayvon Owen — freed of competitive pressure and delivering a superstar-level vocal on a duet of Jamie Foxx’s (really great) new single “In Love By Now”?
Whoops! Sorry, folks! I’m burying the big news, of course — which, put in the terminology of the board-game Clue, would go a little something like this: “Ryan Seacrest, in a tux, with the results envelope!”
Would it be season-long front-runner Clark “Church in My Howl! Not a Whole Lot in My Eyes!” Beckham, whose status looked cloudier after clashing with mentor (and possible future boss) Scott Borchetta and stumbling in the final weeks of the competition?
Or would the confetti shower go to Nick “King of Consistency — Maybe ‘Cause I Never Leave My Lane!” Fradiani, whose month-of-May crescendo included a vastly improved stage presence and a coronation-single performance that converted even Doubting Cowells such as yours truly into loopy, unmedicated Paulas?
At the end of the zippy two-hour telecast, the lights were dimmed (by Kieran, thank goodness) and Ryan dropped the bombshell: The winner of American Idol Season 14 is… NICK FRADIANI!
I’ll be back to update this recap with Finale Night Awards and other commentary, but until then, your turn…
Did the right person win Idol? Who gave your favorite performance? What moments did you love/loathe? And did J.Lo have an auto-tuned mic? Sound off in the comments!