Like the Show, 'American Idol' Winner Nick Fradiani Is No Passing Fad

Your Idol entertainment for this evening (L-R): Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani, Jax, Clark Beckham, Tyanna Jones and Rayvon OwenEXPAND
Your Idol entertainment for this evening (L-R): Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani, Jax, Clark Beckham, Tyanna Jones and Rayvon Owen

Earlier this year, American Idol finished its fourteenth season. Time flies, doesn’t it? This Summer, the Top 5 contestants from this season hit the road on the 37-city "American Idols Live!" tour, which visits Houston tonight at the freshly renamed Revention Music Center. We had the pleasure of recently chatting with this season’s winner, Nick Fradiani, about life on tour, his debut album, and what’s next after being crowned our new American Idol.

Houston Press: Your single “Beautiful Life” has actually been getting a fair amount of airplay here in Houston, and I think it’s definitely one of the better coronation singles in Idol history. What did you first think when you heard it?
Thanks, man! I initially went in the room with sweaty palms and a little nervous. Then when I heard it, I loved it. It sort of reminded me of a mix between the band fun. and the Goo Goo Dolls. Actually, when I first listened to it I recognized the voice on the demo, and later I found out that it was written by Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional who I’m a huge fan of.

Your season of Idol was the first season to have Scott Borchetta as a mentor. How do you think having Scott there makes your win different than if you were to just have a normal winner’s contract like in past seasons?
I’m really lucky to have Scott there as my mentor and to be signed to Big Machine Records. When I found out he was going to be the mentor this season, I researched him and found out how brilliant he really is. He really is a music-industry heavyweight, and he’s putting a lot into this just like I am. They’ve been putting me with the best possible songwriters, and Scott has got me going in the right direction here.

The good thing about Idol is that it has been the only show that has a track record of putting out successful artists, and now I’ve got Scott behind me who is bringing something that no other winner has gotten before. So, I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen within the next year.”

Has anything surprised you about this tour?
Something that has sort of surprised me is how good everybody really could be once the pressure is off and it’s a real live show, as opposed to a televised competition. You’re seeing everyone in their element, and the talent is a really cool thing to see. Literally everybody that we talk to has said that to us — “I knew you guys were good, but this is on another level.” It’s hard on that show to really give your best effort in a minute and a half when you’re sitting in a lit-up chair and having to try and get out of your head. On tour, you’re seeing us now for what we really are.

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We all know that the American Idol ratings have gone down and that, of course, the show will be ending next season. So, how do you plan to capitalize on your win and take advantage of this whole experience to the fullest?
To be honest, the show has been a powerhouse for 14 years now, going on 15, so the ratings were never going to be able to stay at thirtysomething million viewers every week. It’s still going to be the biggest singing show of all time. In terms of capitalizing on the experience, I’m starting with a really good fan base because of the show that most people who are putting out their first album don’t have. So it’s giving me a really good platform to start with, and you just have to capitalize by having the best songs.

I could have been on The Voice this year, which had better ratings, but people aren’t paying much attention to those contestants either. So the main focus for me is putting out an album that has really strong songs suited for radio. That’s the only way it will be a success, in my opinion.

What’s next after this tour? When can we expect your debut album, and what can we expect from it?
The album is being written right now. Scott has had me writing with some really strong songwriters prior to the tour, so any day off I have I am flying to Nashville or New York to work on writing. As soon as the tour ends, we’ll be going right back into that songwriting process, and then we’ll record it. In terms of an exact release date, we don’t have one. Our goal right now is late January or early February, but it’s only going to come out when the songs are ready.

We’re not going in the direction of the past, which was rushing out the album. In terms of the direction, we’re looking to impact the Top 40, so it’s going to be pop music with a little bit of my rock edge to it as well. I think people are going to be excited, and maybe a little bit surprised. I hope they dig it.

The "American Idols Live!" tour visits Bayou Revention Music Center tonight. The show starts at 7:30.

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