And then there were two. On part one of the American Idol finale on Tuesday night (May 12), the last finalists were revealed. Will it be Nick Fradiani or Clark Beckham? Only America knows the answer. And while all saw the guys deliver what they do best — Beckham behind a piano playing a soulful rendition of Ray Charles‘ “Georgia On My Mind” and Fradiani prowling across the stage while belting out Matchbox Twenty’s “Bright Lights” — we also caught our first glimpse of their individual artistry through their respective debut singles.
Backstage after the broadcast, Fradiani and Beckham made their way into the pressroom to gush about how fortunate they felt to still be in the running for the American Idol title. Beckham defended his single, “Champion,” while Fradiani spoke about breaking into the spotlight and proudly representing his Connecticut roots.
Read on for the backstage Q&A:
What is it about guys who play guitar making it far on this show?
Clark: Nick and I both share a passion for music. For me, I’m sure it’s the same for Nick, when I started playing and singing, I just loved music so much, I just wanted to play every instrument I could and dive as deep as I could. A guitar is easy. You stand with it, you walk around with it. It’s just a great instrument. The greats have done it before and people continue to. Guitar is a passion of mine and Nick’s as well.
Nick: And today we played guitar and piano and no guitar or piano. We tried to show that it’s not just that sitting there with the guitar so… I guess it just worked out that way.
Nick, the fans liked your single but didn’t seem to 100 percent be feeling Clark’s single…
Clark: We have some of the greatest writers that we’re blessed to have write for us. This song that they had for us, that they selected, they selected it for victory, like a victory chant. I think both of our songs are very appropriate for the end. And me, I am absolutely infatuated with the lyrics in my song. I love it. I think it preaches. And it’s not R&B, it’s not soul but there is soul in the lyrics. And I think soul transcends just the music. It’s absolutely in the instrumentation and the music. I really love my song.
Nick: The single for me, I think I did luck out. It was a really good song for me personally. The style and the genre. Also the guy who wrote it is Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional so that blew me away. When I heard the demo I was like, “That’s Dashboard” because I used to love Dashboard Confessional. And they are like, “Yeah he wrote it.” So I was really pumped about the show.
What were the first two thoughts in your minds the moment that you found out that you were not eliminated?
Nick: It was tough. I guess in the position that it was right in the beginning like that was kind of tough. It kind of knocked the wind out of us I think. Jax is like my little sister and she’s going to be fine. She’s 19 and crazy talented so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does. But we kind of just looked at each other like, “Alright. We gotta pick this up and rock and roll. We just wanted to put on a good show for everybody and I think it went really well.
How are you guys going to sleep tonight?
Nick: I forgot what the sleep thing is all about.
Clark: Yeah no kidding.
Nick: I just take naps.
It’s down to America.
Clark: Yeah. And we get to be real active on social media to talk to the people that actually are making our dreams come true. But you’re right. We’re done singing for the show. It’s crazy. It’s been around 10 months that we’ve been singing on the show and now it’s practically over.
What was the experience like walking out onto that stage during the opening with the huge crowd there?
Nick: I think I looked up a couple of times. I was just stunned. I really was. JLo made the statement that I said, “Wow.” And I think remember doing it because I was really just taken back by it. We came up playing and just trying to get anybody to listen to us — 8 to 10 people. I’ve been playing bars my whole life. People are talking over you. To have that at that point, it kind of just hit me. And I saw my dad there who went through the same thing as me as a musician. It was just great. It really was.
Clark: For me, it’s always been about the people. And we’ve always had a live audience in the studio but to have the curtain come open and see everybody, that’s what it’s always been about for me. And I got to just feel that energy so that helped a lot.
Tell us about singing Jason Mraz, Nick.
Nick: That was great. I love the song and I tried to show a different side of me on the piano. It’s a really emotional song so I tried to connect to it. It felt really good and I had a good time performing it.
How does it feel, Nick, to be the first contestant from the Northeast to really have a shot at this in a while. It’s been a long time since someone from that region has been in the running to be the Idol.
Nick: I actually remember when I made it to the Top 24 and you start going online and looking up more about the show and it’s like pretty much like yeah if you’re from the East Coast, forget it. Maybe you’ll make Top 10. I remember telling my mom, “I’m not gonna win. Look at this.” But it’s really special. It feels really good. I’m proud of where I’m from and this is great.
Now that you’re done with the competition what’s your mentality going to tomorrow?
Clark: You know Nick said this to me earlier. “It’s over, let’s just have fun.” As cliché as that is we have some incredible performances. Nick is with Andy Grammar, an incredible guy and both of us respect him a lot. Both believe the message that he sings and speaks. I’m singing with the guy that I don’t think I can tell you yet, but expect some dueling pianos and we are rocking out having fun and just jamming.
Nick: The tough part about the show that I have learned is slow it down and enjoy it because it is such a special thing that’s happening in our lives. I even told [Clark] afterwards that when we are all done with it, let’s just have fun tomorrow. There’s nothing we can do about it now and will never have tomorrow again, this day will never happen again so I’m just going to try and soak it all in and whatever happens tomorrow night I’m proud of him. He’s a tremendous singer and artist and everything and either of us have a shot. Even at top three, I had no idea who was going to go home. We all didn’t know.
Clark, was there a special girl you were singing to tonight, as JLo suggested?
Clark: Well the song is about “she’s gone…” I guess that could be accurate because there’s no one. There’s no one in my life that way. Music is my girlfriend.
What message do you have for your fans?
Nick: We are very active on social media and try to talk to our fans because as he said, we are not here without them and without these people supporting us. I think that goes for both of us that we are both so thankful. I never thought, I didn’t think you did either… but to be here is ridiculous.
Clark. We wouldn’t be here without the fans and every vote is actively investing for free – investing into our music careers, and no matter where we go, we will forever be indebted it to American Idol and the people who are voting.