Which ‘American Idol’ Season 14 Contestant Has The Best Winner’s Single? The Songs Battle It Out — LISTEN
Who will be crowned the next American Idol? We'll find out on Wednesday night when the second part of the American Idol Season 14 finale airs live on FOX. On Tuesday, the three remaining contestants premiered their new singles online, adding to the already considerable excitement surrounding the race. Though all three songs have similar themes (empowerment!), each one has its own unique sound: Nick Fradiani's single is a U2-esque tune called "Beautiful Life," Jax's is an EDM-tinged track called "Forcefield," and Clark Beckham's is an epic pop number called "Champion."
Recent "winner's singles" (or "coronation songs," if you prefer) have been pretty hit or miss, and unfortunately, this new crop is no exception. (Sadly, the days of expertly crafted cheese-tastic monster ballads like "A Moment Like This," "Inside Your Heaven," and "I Believe" are long gone.) However, there's definitely some potential here. I don't think any of these records are going to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but one or two of them could become moderate hits. Who has the best American Idol Season 14 winner's single? Let's find out.
In order to declare a victor, I looked at three key areas: the vocals, the chorus, and the overall radio appeal.
Nick Fradiani's "Beautiful Life"
The vocals: Fradiani's voice is very pleasant... but it's also very familiar. If Daughtry's voice had a baby with Rob Thomas' voice, it would be Fradiani's voice. (There's some Chad Kroeger mixed in there, too.) For the most part, though, I dig it.
The chorus: It kinda makes me want to carpe the diem, but it's way too wordy. Drunk people will have a hard time singing along with it. (That's one of the main ways I measure the success of a song's chorus.) It needs better hooks.
The overall radio appeal: I think Hot Adult Contemporary stations will be all over this track (the stations cool moms and dads listen to), but I suspect it'll have a tough time getting top 40 airplay.
The vocals: Studio magic didn't take all of the "Jax" out of Jax's voice! Hooray. She sounds great. However, I would've liked to hear more ad-libs/harmonies throughout the song — especially during the final chorus.
The chorus: The chorus is by far the best thing about this track (I don't like the verses much at all), but it's missing something. It sounds a little flat, like it needs some "oomph."
The overall radio appeal: I hate to say it, but this song does not scream "radio hit" to me. Sorry, Jax.
Clark Beckham's "Champion"
The vocals: Sometimes, when Beckham's singing live, he does this thing where he just barely opens his mouth, closes his eyes, tilts his head back, and WAILS. Like, he just lets out this deafening, off-key scream (and, confusingly, the crowd usually goes wild for it). Thankfully, he refrains from doing that here. His voice actually suits this sort of rousing, modern pop track quite well. I guess Scott Borchetta was right!
The chorus: This is the best chorus of the trio. Like Fradiani's "Beautiful Life" chorus, it's a bit wordy at times, but the soaring refrain of "oh-whoa-whoa-oh's" is perfect. Drunk people will NOT have a hard time singing along with that! The chorus also makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to, which I really appreciate.
The overall radio appeal: Again, I think Hot Adult Contemporary stations are going to eat this song up... but I'm less confident about top 40 stations. (Side note: I can totally see this one being used in commercials, TV show promos, and movie trailers.)
And the winner is...
With its triumphant chorus and uplifting lyrics, Beckham's "Champion" sounds the most like a winner's single to me. I also think it has the most radio and commercial appeal. I don't have a pick to win Season 14, but I certainly wouldn't mind hearing "Champion" on the airwaves in the coming weeks. Nope, not one bit.
"Beautiful Life," "Forcefield," and "Champion" are all available on iTunes now.
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