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Riding the Idol Wave

Jake ZuckermanonJuly 24, 2015/0 comments
American Idol press photo (5.4.15) smSimon, Paula and Randy might be gone, but “American Idol” continues on, and so does its live performances, one of which hits Chautauqua at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

“Idol” wrapped up its 14th season in May and began its national tour in promotion of the season’s five top finalists: Nick Fradiani, Clark Beckham, Jaclyn “Jax” Miskanic, Rayvon Owen and Tyanna Jones. For the five performers, the tour is both exciting and nerve-racking.

“It’s a new kind of pressure and a new kind of feeling that I’ve never experienced,” Miskanic said. “It really feels rewarding after all the hard work this season and after all the relationships we made and all the times we had. It’s like a victory lap, and it feels really really good.”

Despite the pressure on the young celebrities as they become acquainted with their newfound fame, the bunch is finding different ways — of varying orthodoxy — to keep everything in check.

“Before every show, I kind of punch Nick [Fradiani] really hard and try to kick the nerves out of him,” Miskanic said. “I pretty much beat him up before we go onstage. That’s a thing.”

Fradiani, the season’s winner, won audiences over with covers of pop artists such as Ed Sheeran, Peter Gabriel, Train and Matchbox Twenty. Throughout the season, he sang songs known to draw tears and crooned with enough emotion to back them up.

The runner-up of the pack, Beckham earned his acclaim via his blue-eyed soul covers of the likes of R&B legends such as Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and James Brown.

Following Beckham, Miskanic rose through the ranks with her stripped-down rearrangement of tracks from a host of different genres including Britney Spears, The Beatles, Cher and The Who.

After Beckham, Owen (the group’s most popular member, according to Miskanic) touted a flexible vocal range throughout the show by belting covers of artists from Justin Bieber to Sam Smith to The Temptations.

The fifth finalist, Jones made noise wth classic songs by Michael Jackson and Creedence Clearwater Revival, along with some newer sounds from Meghan Trainor and Miley Cyrus.

Miskanic said despite the long hours on the bus of a cross-country tour, all the performers are getting along well.

“I figured being on tour, things would get kind of cranky, but I think we’ve gotten closer than ever,” she said.

While the squad might be getting along, the singers are prone to hijinx. Miskanic said the tour is oftentimes a battleground for pranks, ranging from the elaborate to the mundane — namely, “wet willies.”

For tonight’s show, Miskanic said the crowd can expect to hear many of the songs the contestants performed during the season, along with a few original songs, medleys and perhaps a surprise classic here or there.

“It’s a really eclectic playlist that we’ve put together — like really eclectic,” Miskanic said. “Some of it is Kelly Clarkson. Some of it is Lenny Kravitz.”

As the band continues, Miskanic said, despite the disorientation from the tour’s fast pace, she’s just trying to stay above water and take it all in before it’s gone.

“I feel like by the end of it, it’s going to feel like it did on Idol, where it just went by way too fast,” Miskanic said.