Conventional wisdom seems to hold that Crystal Bowersox — the dreadlocked dynamo who has more or less dominated the ninth season of "American Idol" since day one — is the clear-cut front-runner and that the competition is hers to lose at this point.
Based on talent alone, you'd be hard-pressed to find many who would disagree with that assessment. But no matter how many times Simon Cowell repeats it, we all know that "Idol" isn't merely "a singing competition." More often than not, it's the intangibles — stuff like likability, marketability and, uh, hunk-ability — that actually determine the winner of this thing.
For that reason alone, it's entirely possible that Bowersox might not win "American Idol" this season. Or, at least, that's what those who know the show best are telling us.
"She should win, but she might not," said MJ Santilli, who operates "Idol" site MJsBigBlog.com. "She's been the front-runner for a while now, and usually, the front-runners tend to fade away. ... Plus, she's hardly the traditional 'front-runner.' It's not an open-and-shut case."
"She's been the front-runner almost since the beginning of the season; it's just that the problem with 'Idol' is that it's not a show where you can vote people off. You vote for who you want to stay," said Maura Johnston, who covers "Idol" for Fancast.com, added. "So it will come down to fans who are passionate, and since everyone assumes Crystal is the best, it will mean people might not vote for her, since there's a sense that the five other contestants are fighting for votes."
Aside from the fact that Bowersox has basically been declared the de facto champion since the early weeks of the competition, there seem to be two main reasons why she might not actually win — both of which are completely beyond her control. The first is the guy who most "Idol" fans see her facing off against in the finale: lovable underdog Lee Dewyze.
"She's got Lee Dewyze behind her, who hasn't peaked yet but who's the kind of guy 'Idol' voters seem to like," Santilli said. "If he comes up with a really unbelievable performance in the next couple of weeks, he may snatch the crown from her."
"I think the final two is going to be Lee and Crystal, and I think Lee's going to win," Johnston said. "Lee's fans are super motivated. He has this weird quality about him. ... I think he has a definite appeal. He's the good-looking, cute underdog, and that's all a certain demographic of 'Idol' viewers seem to want. Also, it seems fans of the male contestants are just more motivated to vote, for whatever reason."
While a late-charging Dewyze might pose the most serious threat to knock off Bowersox, it's the second thing that might actually end up doing her in: the very real sense that she's this year's Adam Lambert, a supremely talented competitor who just doesn't quite fit in the "American Idol" mold.
"There's a couple of things going on with her. She's a sort-of hippie, she has bad teeth, people don't like the dreads. ... She represents a segment of the pop that people don't like: the left-wing hippie vibe," Santilli said. "And there's definitely a segment of viewers that won't vote for her because of that. ... She's a little bit polarizing. Sort of like [Lambert] last season, but on a much lesser scale."
"Every contestant this season has their Achilles' heel. And hers is how she looks," Johnston agreed. "That's really all you can say about her."
Though, to be honest, all of this seems sort of like nitpicking. Santilli and Johnston don't foresee Bowersox slipping any time soon — if at all. Most of that has to do with the fact that the, uh, "talent" she's up against pales in comparison to that of previous "Idol" seasons.
"It's such a weird season, and I think a lot of people are frustrated by what they're seeing on the show," Johnston said. "If the people [Bowersox] is up against this season were as strong as even, say, a Brooke White or Michael Johns, this wouldn't even be close It's a totally weak season, to the point where people who finished, like, sixth in previous years would've totally won this year."
Does Crystal have it in the bag? Or will she have to settle for second place? Let us know in the comments!
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