While Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani were giving it their all on stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood Tuesday night, and third-place Jax was backstage decompressing after her elimination, nine of their newest, closest friends were watching the spectacle of the season 14 finale unfold from their vantage point in the front rows of the audience. Those nine people were the other contestants in the top 12, who all had a unique point of view from which to assess the competition. Immediately following the broadcast, they spoke with Billboard about what they had just experienced.
“It was wild, from top to bottom,” said Sarina-Joi Crowe, the first of the 12 to go home. “We didn’t know they were going to cut at the top of the show. We were all floored. Jax is so powerful and has been such a force this season that we weren’t expecting to hear her name. But many of the greats have finished in third place — like Melinda Doolittle, Haley Reinhart and Josh Ledet. That’s a testament to how wonderful Jax is and how great the season was.”
Joey Cook, who left the competition three weeks ago, agreed. “Everybody was shocked because from early on, Jax had a very strong fanbase. I’m happy she went out on her best performance. She gave her everything.”
While the contestants were sad for Jax, they were equally supportive of both Beckham and Fradiani. “Nick and Clark really pulled out the guns tonight,” said fifth-place Tyanna Jones. “They killed it. They showed they really want to win this. And they’re fighting for it.” Quentin Alexander, who finished sixth, added, “I’m proud of Nick and Clark. I got to see them from the beginning, learning about themselves and figuring out what they want to do with the competition. Now they’re owning it. One of them is going to own it permanently.”
Not one of the nine finalists were willing to name either Beckham or Fradiani as Tuesday’s champ. “I want them both to win,” said Maddie Walker, who is hoping that for the first time in Idol history, there will be two victors. “J-Lo said it’s a tie!” the teenager cited as evidence she might get her wish.