For Old Time’s Sake: The American Idol XIV Finale Blog

It’s been a while since I blogged American Idol.  I guess I gave up just before FOX did (OK, long before FOX did).  But with the announcement that the road to Idol’s retirement is paved, I figured I could break out the ol’ blog and make fun of the annual 2-hour 6-minute spectacle that only gets good after 2 hours and 1 minute…

I have been watching, off and on, since the cut to 20.  For the first time, I actually have a small connection to a contestant.  Rayvon Owen is a friend of the CSz Richmond Theater – he comes from the Henrico High School Center for the Arts, and I think participated at CSz back in the day. Last summer, as he was raising money for his audition trip, he played a concert with his band at CSz Richmond. I was the tech in the booth, but I had it easy as he had fellow Idol aspirant (and current CSz iProv keyboardist) Mike Brown doing the mixing for him.  All I had to do was make sure the speakers were on.  But still… that’s more than I’d ever done for any other Idol contestant.

I was glad that Rayvon was able to claw his way to fourth place – he got to have the Hometown day, and has certainly made an impression in the music business.  We’ll hear more from him, and I mean after the Idol Top Five tour (including a Richmond stop, July 21).  There was another Virginia-based artist voted off in fourth place a few years ago that you might have heard of.  Does the name Chris Daughtry ring a bell?

Last night, I was reminded of one of the reasons I gave up on Idol.  The performer voted off in third place should have won.  But Jax had two problems for the core Idol crowd.  She wasn’t a WGWG (white guy with guitar), and she didn’t play safe pop music.  She’s a rocker.  The Idol audience will, inevitably, turn on rockers.  They’ve set up a double-WGWG final.  What makes it interesting is that mentor/producer Scott Borchetta (the guy who discovered Taylor Swift) has made it clear that he has a preference tonight — he would like to see Nick Fradiani win as he finds Clark Beckham too stubborn and difficult to work with.  Now he didn’t say that in quite so few words… but it’s there.  However, Beckham has that whole “God-fearing Southern boy” thing going, and that goes right into the wheelhouse of the Idol voting audience.  It’s going to be interesting.

And long.  This is always long.  As I did back in the day, I’ll stop at each commercial break and mark the time so you can get an idea of how badly padded this show is likely to be…

Showtime, 8:00pm EDT

From the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (a step down from the Kodak Theatre, site of previous finales)… it’s the official finale montage.  Including a street-side acoustic intro to “Centuries”, which jump-cuts into the theatre with the two finalists singing along with Fall Out Boy.  I like the song.  I think I’ve lived it once or twice (“just one mistake/is all it will take”)…

And cut to Seacrest in the Official Idol Tuxedo.  Why?  THIS… is American Idol!  (of course) All hands are introduced (Seacrest, judges – the law firm of Lopez, Urban & Connick, and the finalists)… Urban’s wearing an actual suit instead of the usual t-shirt, Connick’s in a tux, and J-Lo’s barely wearing a black designer outfit.  We get a tease for a performance by the judges later (The Voice does it every year, so why not?).  The finalists enter through the crowd (after running around the building from the stage, obviously).

The Idol Variety  Hour continues with the Jacksons and special guest star, fifth-place finalist Tyanna Jones (taking Michael’s lines).  The Jacksons’ medley starts with “1-2-3”, and rolls through “The Love You Save” and “Shake Your Body Down To The Ground”.  Call me crazy, but this just might work.  The Jacksons may want to look at taking Tyanna on the road…

BREAK (8:11 – 8:15)

The ladies of the Top 12 join Nile Rodgers and Chic – and they start with “We Are Family”, moving into “Le Freak”, the new Chic single, “I’ll Be There”, “Good Times”,  and “Rapper’s Delight”.  I knew all the songs (except the new one), and thus am officially Old.

No stopping the music, as we go right to Ricky Martin and his new single, “Mr. Put It Down”.  And if that wasn’t enough, the guys of the Top 12 join in for “Livin’ la Vida Loca”, then “She Bangs” and the 1998 World Cup anthem “The Cup of Life”.  1998?  I’m Old. 🙂

BREAK (8:27 – 8:32) – Expect the extended Top 10 Duets sequence to start now…

We start cold with Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, and co-10th-placed Adanna Duru, doing Monáe’s current single “Yoga”.

Jump right to birthday boy Prince Royce, doing his new single”Back It Up”, with his the featured artists on the single, Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull.   So Royce gets Snoop Dogg on his first single, then J-Lo and Mister Worldwide?  Nice to have friends in high places.

BREAK (8:40 – 8:43)

Seventh-place Joey Cook becomes the fifth Sierota for a night, joining the sibling band Echosmith for their breakout hit, “Cool Kids”.

This leads into the inevitable Farewell Season Audition Tour plug, including the Bus Tour (not coming to Richmond) and YouTube audition processes.  Curious?  Visit to learn more.  Seacrest kills time congratulating J-Lo on the Vegas gig at Planet Hollywood, and asking the judges who’s going to win before throwing to a behind-the-scenes video showing how close the judges are.

During the video, Keith Urban made his way to the stage for his new single, “Even The Stars Fall 4 U” (yes, with the txt-like title).  And, yes, Nicole was in the audience.  The director thanks you for asking.  (OK, I suspect this might have been a pre-tape.)

BREAK (8:54 – 8:58)

Hour 2 starts with Jamie Foxx on piano, doing “In Love By Now”, joined in due course by Rayvon Owen.  Great choice for Rayvon’s duet, and the crowd at the Dolby ate it up.

Cut to Seacrest in the crowd with Clark and Nick, one hour and 4 minutes before The Decision. Oh, right, this is the Ford Focus segment, where the Idol finalists give trips to the finale to their mentors. Of course, the mentors wind up new cars, and we wind up with a blooper reel special as the guys blow their lines.  Aaaand the guys each get their own cars, which is supposed to be a surprise but everyone knew that was coming, too. Annual tradition, don’tcha know?

Time for another duet, as NKOTB team up with the youngest Idol, ninth-placed Daniel Seavey. The gimmick is that he’s trying out to be the newest New Kid.  His audition happens live on stage, starting with a snippet of “Please Don’t Go Girl”, then “Step By Step”, and “You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff)”. Naturally, he “passed” the audition. Hate to say it, but seeing the teenaged Seavey with the middle-aged NKOTB was… awkward.

BREAK (9:10 – 9:15)

The duets continue with sixth-place Quentin Alexander joining Vance Joy for Joy’s only hit (so far), “Riptide”.  Alexander’s the contestant who both got the judges’ save and later pissed off Harry Connick Jr. to the point where Alexander had to give an on-air apology.

Back to the finalists with Big Machine’s Borchetta, who tries to defuse his previous comments by saying he’d be proud to work with either finalist.  The winner tonight will present at the CMT Awards and immediately starts his new album in Nashville this week.

Pitbull is back, along with Chris Brown (ugh), for Mister Worldwide’s new single,”Fun”.  Eighth-placed Qaasim Middleton joins the fun.  Pun absolutely intended.  Sorry.  The audio engineers buried Pitbull’s audio on this one.   They also remembered to turn Brown’s mic on.  Two slaps on the wrist.

BREAK (9:23 – 9:27)

It’s time for the duet we’ve been waiting for.  But first, Captain Jack Sparr — no, wait, that’s former judge Steven Tyler, never mind — opens with “Love Is Your Name”, before third-placed Jax joins for “Piece of My Heart”.  While she has a mic, she makes it a point to say the “Thank You” she never got the chance to do last night.  To be honest, it looks to me like Tyler took advantage of a star-struck teenager and never really gave her a chance to be part of the song, but maybe it’s just me…

BREAK (9:34 – 9:38)

There’s apparently a contest at the Idol website allowing fans to be part of the winner’s album. While you ponder that, Seacrest interviews Clark’s family.  Speaking of whom…

It’s time for Clark’s finale duet, with Michael McDonald, on the Doobie classic “Takin’ It To The Streets” – on side-by-side pianos.  The song is almost 40 years old.  I remember it from back then.  I’m OLD.

And that takes us into the Official Season Recap Video.  That says it all.

And now that the stage is reset, it’s time to chat with Nick’s family to lead into his duet with Andy Grammer on a medley of Grammer’s two most recent singles, “Back Home” and “Honey, I’m Good”.

BREAK (9:48 – 9:53)

10 minutes or so to a winner… but first, “Diamonds”, featuring our three judges.  J-Lo singing, of course… Connick on keyboards, Urban on guitar.  They segue into Urban duetting with J-Lo on “Locked Out Of Heaven” (this was absolutely pre-taped).

It’s almost time… in fact, it has to be after this —

BREAK (9:57 – 10:02)

Final segment, so it’s time for the reveal. Clark and Nick express their bro-ship, and then it’s time for the envelope from the CEO of the vote-tallying company.

Kieran, dim the lights… here we go…

The winner… of American Idol XIV… is… not me.

It’s Nick Fradiani.  I’m kind of surprised.   Seacrest tries to present the Silver Microphone, but Nick is being mobbed by the Top 12.

Nick takes us out with his first single, “A Beautiful Life”.

And roll the credits, it’s a wrap.

I’m thinking of bringing back the weekly Idol blogs for the kiss-off season.  I’ll let you know in January.  I’ll try to find something to write about before then.  Maybe.  If you all behave.


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