Now the competition on American Idol can really begin.
With everyone from Nigel Lythgoe to the judges acknowledging that the winner of American Idol's 12th season will be a girl, and with the field now narrowed to five ladies, it's time for viewers to start sitting up and paying attention. Here, we break down the field of competition — from least likely to win to most.
5. Janelle Arthur:The fact that she found herself in the bottom two with most recent castoff Lazaro Arbos last week doesn't bode well for Janelle's chances. But she's already proved that she can step up her game, as she did with her unique arrangement of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" during Music from the Motor City week. Still, as the judges have repeatedly pointed out, Janelle doesn't match the powerhouse vocals of some of her competitors. She needs to make up for that by showing off the talents that set her apart. Our advice to Janelle this week? Pick up your guitar and give it all you've got.
4. Amber Holcomb: Amber is a great singer and, as a svelte, attractive 19-year-old, she certainly has the potential to appeal to the masses. And obviously the judges love her, heaping (at times effusive) praise on the Houston native and giving her repeated standing ovations. (This could either be beneficial or detrimental to her chances, however.) But for all her charisma, dancing and fashion sense, Amber simply lacks the raw, emotional vocal talents of her nearest competitor, Candice Glover. Plus, like Janelle, she's also found herself in the bottom two once after viewer voting — and that was when there were still guys taking up some of the spots.
3. Angie Miller: Here's where it gets tough. Angie is in a head-to-head race with Candice Glover and Kree Harrison for the Top 3 spots, and she hasn't yet had a breakthrough moment like Candice's "Lovesong" last week. Angie's strongest performance was way back in Hollywood Week, where she made the gutsy move to perform an original song and it paid off handsomely. (Mariah Carey is still encouraging her to get back to that piano.) She's had a few misfires in the Top 10 rounds — with "Shop Around" during Motown Week in particular — but it wasn't enough to keep Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson to include her in their Top 3 when prompted. Plus, it doesn't hurt that she already looks like a freshly-minted pop star.
2. Candice Glover: Let's get one thing straight — Candice Glover is the most talented vocalist among the Top 5 girls. Anyone who doubts as much should revisit her performance of "Lovesong" from last week, which is being hailed as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) performance in Idol history. But where she falls just short of Angie and Kree is in her personality. Though she performs behind the microphone with almost surreal ease, it's obvious that Candice is painfully shy when it comes to on-camera interviews. Plus, the "get to know the Idol finalists" package, in which Candice's segment focused mainly on her and Burnell Taylor playing a practical joke on Lazaro, didn't help matters. If viewers vote on vocal ability alone, she's a shoo-in. But if they go for more widespread appeal, Candice may find herself listed as an also-ran.
1. Kree Harrison: Our pick to win American Idol's 12th season is the down-to-earth 22-year-old from Texas. The reasoning? First and foremost, she's got the best personality of the whole group, able to casually and comfortably banter with the judges, even as Nicki Minaj is comparing her to waffles and proposing marriage. Plus, the consensus that she's the "mom" of the group, who makes sure her peers' shirts are ironed and knows everyone by name (including the catering staff), is pretty endearing. Second, though she's just a hair behind Candice in terms of vocal ability, Kree delivers gorgeous, velvety performances every week and makes them look completely effortless (to borrow Urban's word), even when she has a pinched nerve. And once Janelle is out of the competition, country fans won't have to split their votes. (Sorry, Janelle.)
What do you think? Who's your pick to win American Idol? Vote in our poll!
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.