Idol Champ Nick Fradiani Talks AGT Past, Thwarted Rap Covers, 'Give and Take' With New Boss Borchetta

Nick Fradiani is a smart guy — and not just because he’s got a master’s degree in education.

The American Idol Season 14 winner, who’s been trying to make a living through music since he turned 18, says he’s excited to write and/or co-write the music for his solo debut on Big Machine Records, but if label chief Scott Borchetta hands him a hit song by an outside writer, “I’m gonna sing it. I’m not that stupid.”

TVLine caught up with Nick this week at Fox HQ in New York City to talk about his previous attempts to juggle music and a teaching career, his Season 14 audition that almost wasn’t, his favorite voting-rounds performance and his thoughts as he sat down to listen to his coronation single “Beautiful Life.” (Spoiler alert: It was something along the lines of “Please don’t ruin my career!”)

I also grilled Nick about the ups and downs of his Idol run, including what he did to overcome his discomfort away from his Beach Avenue bandmates, why he didn’t tackle many out-of-left-field song choices (i.e. “No Diggity“) or arrangements, how he wound up covering Rascal Flatts for his “gravy” song (despite not being a country artist) and where he’ll try to diverge from prior show winners who’ve failed to replicate the success of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

“If you don’t have a good album,” Nick offers, “you’re forgotten about — plain and simple.”

Press PLAY above for the full half-hour Q&A, then hit the comments with your thoughts on Nick’s Idol victory and your hopes for his upcoming album!