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Sound Check: “American Idol” finalists happy to return to Detroit

By Gary Graff, The Oakland Press
POSTED: 08/06/15, 12:09 PM EDT

For Nick Fradiani and the other four performers on this American Idols Live! tour, playing in Detroit has a little more meaning than most of the other stops on the trek.

“That’s where it started for all of us,” Fradiani, 30, says by phone from Chautaqua, N.Y. He’s referring to “Idol” episodes that were filmed at the Fillmore Detroit and were the first shows to feature viewers voting for the contestants. “To me that’s the beginning of when this all got really crazy, so I’ll always have a soft spot for Detroit.”

Fradiani adds that those Fillmore episodes marked the first time the singer from Connecticut — a school teacher who was part of a band, Beach Avenue — started to feel like he stood a chance in the competition. “I remember in Detroit I felt really good and was like, ‘I might have a shot,’” Fradiani recalls. “The performances went well, and I felt pretty good. There was a lull when we got back to California where I gave up hope on winning and was just trying to get better and give better performances, but finally at the end I hit my hot streak, and here I am now.”

Fradiani has released his debut single, “Beautiful Life,” and is working on his first album, which will also be the “Idol” franchise’s first with Big Machine Records, which is also Taylor Swift’s label. And unlike previous “Idol” winners, Fradiani says he’s not under the gun to get something out quickly.

“Normally they’d rush an album out a few months after the show ends, but (Big Machine) came up with a bit of a different plan, which I was totally in favor of,” Fradiani says. “I’ve been working with a lot of different writers for the last two months or so, and once the tour ends we’ll go full-force on working on the album and getting the right songs together and putting another single out.

“The main thing is just to get the best possible songs. We need hit songs. You can capitalize a bit on the popularity of winning the show, but that won’t last, you know? It’s more important to make the best record you can. I’m really lucky they feel that way, ’cause I want to be around a long time and really have a career.”