LOS ANGELES — Nick Fradiani is the latest winner of American Idol.
The 29-year-old rocker of Guilford, Connecticut, bested soulful 22-year-old vocalist Clark Beckham of White House, Tennessee, to win the 14th edition of the Fox talent competition.
“This is amazing,” he told Idol host Ryan Seacrest. “This is the best day of my life.”
Fradiani joins such champions as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Phillip Phillips and Kris Allen, as well one more winner to be determined next year. Fox announced earlier this week that the next season would be the last for “Idol.”
Before he was revealed as the winner on May 13, Fradiani dueted with singer-songwriter Andy Grammer.
“I can’t even think right now,” Fradiani said after Seacrest informed him that he received the most viewer votes — without revealing the exact number cast.
Fradiani’s win came on the strength of his renditions May 12 of Matchbox 20’s Bright Lights, Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up and Beautiful Life, intended as his first single. Beckham sang Ray Charles’ Georgia on My Mind, Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine and Champion.
The two-hour extravaganza kicked off with Fradiani and Beckham joining Fall Out Boy on their song Centuries.
The series’ penultimate finale also resurrected Chic, Ricky Martin, NKOTB, Michael McDonald and Steven Tyler for performances, as well as judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.
The once-blockbuster singing contest, which hit a peak of 30.3 million viewers in 2005, is now averaging 9.15 million viewers per episode, according to the Nielsen company.
Lopez, Urban and Connick Jr. are due back at the judges’ table for next year’s 15th and final Idol outing. Beckham had a few words of advice for those looking to become the last-ever Idol. “You have to be good at lot of different things,” he said. “It’s not just singing a song.”
(DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer)