It's on now. With the departure of Allison Iraheta from American Idol, we're down to the final three: Adam, Danny, and Kris. Who will take home the grand prize? Let's handicap the finalists.
Adam Lambert: 2-1
Adam is clearly the most talented of the remaining contestants. He hasn't stepped wrong once all season, either with his choice of song or his performance. He's got the stage presence and the vocal chops to do anything he wants, and with his performance of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," astonishingly, he sounded as good as Robert Plant ever did.
Possible pitfalls for Adam: his made-up, hard-edged rocker look might alienate some in the tween demographic, who misunderstand the true reason behind his studded leather fashions (much as fans of Judas Priest did with Rob Halford, back in the day). And it's entirely possible that after giving the crown to David Cook last year, fans want something slightly different now.
Still, hard to peg Adam as anything but the prohibitive favorite right now.
Danny Gokey: 8-1
Danny's place in the top three is sort of puzzling. He's a good singer, yes, but what demographic is he working for? He's not as cuddly as Kris or as dangerous as Adam. He's got a lock on the bluesy, soulful sound that propelled Taylor Hicks to the top a few years ago, but little to no range. His performance of Aerosmith's "Dream On" this week was even more painful than listening to actual Aerosmith. That's really saying something.
Factor in his smug attitude, and it's hard to see him toppling either Adam or Kris. Unless something surprising occurs next week, I'd expect him to be the next to go. But crazier things have happened before, especially at this late stage.
Kris Allen: 5-2
Were American Idol purely a talent competition, Kris would probably have been voted off a few weeks ago. Which isn't to suggest that he's not pleasant to listen to, but that's his problem: he's just pleasant to listen to. This week, Simon criticized him for being too humble. But Kris's down-to-earth nature is the basis of much of his appeal, I think. Moreso than Danny -- and definitely moreso than Adam -- Kris, right now, is the contestant allowing viewers to live vicariously through him. He's the one who lets us say, Hey, that could be me up there!
I also wouldn't underestimate the importance of his looks. Danny's a big geek, and Adam's sense of style seems to be a turnoff for some viewers. Kris can split that difference -- non-threatening enough for the younger set, handsome and clean-cut enough for the older ones. That could be the X-factor at this late stage. You still have to give the edge to Adam, on talent alone, but Kris could easily steal this thing.
Are you watching American Idol? Who do you think will win?
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