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LOS ANGELES (AP) — "This is the best day of my life," said 29-year-old rocker Nick Fradiani after he was crowned the second to the last "American Idol" in not the best of weeks for the long-running music competition show.
On Monday, Fox announced the former prime-time powerhouse and star-maker will end next year after 15 seasons following steadily declining ratings in recent years.
Fradiani, from Guilford, Connecticut, bested soulful 22-year-old vocalist Clark Beckham of White House, Tennessee, to win Wednesday night's 14th edition of "Idol."
"This is amazing," he told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest. "This is the best day of my life."
Fradiani joins such champions as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Phillip Phillips and Kris Allen, some of whom have found their own pop stardom.
Before he was revealed as the winner, Fradiani dueted with singer-songwriter Andy Grammer.
"I can't even think right now," Fradiani said after Seacrest informed him that he received the most viewer votes — without revealing the exact number cast.
Fradiani's win came on the strength of his renditions Tuesday of Matchbox 20's "Bright Lights," Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up" and "Beautiful Life," intended as his first single. Beckham sang Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind," Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Champion."
The two-hour extravaganza kicked off with Fradiani and Beckham joining Fall Out Boy on their song "Centuries."
The series' penultimate finale also resurrected Chic, Ricky Martin, NKOTB, Michael McDonald and Steven Tyler for performances, as well as judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.
The once-blockbuster singing contest, which hit a peak of 30.3 million viewers in 2005, is now averaging 9.15 million viewers per episode, according to the Nielsen company.
Lopez, Urban and Connick Jr. are due back at the judges' table for next year's 15th and final "Idol" outing. Beckham had a few words of advice for those looking to become the last-ever "Idol."
"You have to be good at lot of different things," he said. "It's not just singing a song."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.
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