This week, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison will square off in the "American Idol" Season 12 finale, and this may be the closest "Idol" race since Ruben vs. Clay a decade ago.
Both girls are very strong but very different singers, and while song selection (particularly when it comes to the coronation songs) might sway on-the-fence voters and affect this Thursday's verdict, it's likely that pre-existing loyal fanbases and musical-genre affiliations will ultimately determine this year's champion.
If you force me to make a prediction--something I'm usually all too eager to do, but not this year--I'll go with Candice. She'd be a deserving winner, for sure. But I absolutely wouldn't count out Kree; after last week's top three shocker, anything is possible on this show.
Below are three reasons why I think Candice could take this year's "Idol" title…and three reasons why Kree might triumph instead.
WHY CANDICE WILL WIN:
1. She's Had the Most Standout Performances - Looking back on the breakout moments of Season 12, it was all about Candice. "Lovesong." "Come Together." "Straight Up." "Find Your Love." "Somewhere." A Season 12 highlight reel would practically be a Candice Glover reel. Candice was the one who took artistic chances, made songs her own, and showed the most creativity with her phrasing and arrangements, week after amazing week. If she can have just one more "moment" on this Wednesday's performance show, she could have this in the bag.
2. The Odds Are in Her Favor - According to sports betting site Bovada, Candice, after starting off 25/1, is now the 5/9 favorite to win "Idol" this year. That's compared to Kree's 7/5 odds. This competition is still too close for me to bet my entire Yahoo! paycheck on either lady...but if I was the betting type, I'd put my money on Candice.
3. She's Simply the Stronger Contestant - Kree has a gorgeous voice, like a warm blanket or a stack of waffles or whatever the simile-happy Nicki Minaj says. I'd certainly buy her album. But would a buy a ticket to see her in concert? Probably not. Kree's personality often falls flat onstage, while Candice, though sedate and reserved in real life, always brings the fire when she performs. Candice is singing second on Wednesday's show. (Kree, who won the coin-toss, oddly opted to go first--perhaps she knew Candice would be a tough act to follow?) So Candice is at an advantage here. She has a major opportunity to leave the last important impression on viewers, and I have no doubt, with her master-class vocals and impeccable performance skills, that that impression will be a great one.
WHY KREE COULD WIN:
1. She's a Country Singer - The country genre has always been popular among avid "Idol"-watchers. Some of "Idol's" biggest success stories--not just winners like Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery, but popular finalists like Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington, Laura Alaina, Casey James, and Josh Gracin--have come from the country world. Kree represents the genre well, having inked a Lyric Street Records contract as a child and established herself as a Nashville regular (working with the likes of Kacey Musgraves and the Eli Young Band) as an adult. Conversely, Candice represents straight-up R&B…and an R&B singer hasn't won "Idol" since Fantasia did nine years ago.
2. She Has a Compelling Backstory - Many pundits believe that Kree made it to the finale over the long-favored Angie Miller because of her emotionally gripping homecoming segment, when she visited the Texas house where she lived with her parents before they tragically died. (Kree's father was in a fatal plane crash when she was 12; her mother was killed in a car accident seven years later.) A sob story isn't enough, of course--and to her credit, Kree never exploited her backstory, relying on talent alone to make it to the top three. Most viewers probably weren't even aware of Kree's parents' deaths until last week. But now that Kree's story is out there, it could sway sympathetic voters just enough to give her the edge…especially if she taps into her heartache with another tearjerker performance like "Here Comes Goodbye."
3. America Loves Underdogs - As mentioned above, a lot of people expected Angie, not Kree, to be in the finale with Candice. I think even Kree expected that outcome, judging by the look of utter shock on her face on last week's results show, when Ryan Seacrest told her she'd made the top two. Now it looks like Kree could be the Kris Allen of Season 12: the contestant that no one really saw coming, who suddenly peaks at just the right time and wins it all.
Who do you think will win "American Idol" this year?
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