From heartbreaking eliminations to shocking disqualifications to Paula Abdul calling Simon Cowell “the STD,” it’s been an unexpectedly eventful season on American Idol. And the gag isn’t over just yet.
Three finalists remain in the competition, and after Sunday’s grand finale (ABC, 8/7c), either Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler or Willie Spence will become the next American Idol. That makes this our last chance to step back and take stock of the finalists, answering two important questions: First, which contestant do we expect to win? And more importantly, who do we believe deserves to win? (Let’s be real, folks, they’re often different answers.)
Read on for a quick breakdown of this season’s Top 3, as well as a preview of what each finalist will be performing on Sunday:
CHAYCE BECKHAM | After catching his audition in Week 2, I labeled Beckham a “clear frontrunner.” I also described him as a “charmingly unconfident heartthrob with the kind of gravelly voice that quite simply gets you pregnant.” I stand by all of those points.
During Sunday’s finale, Beckham will be strumming his guitar to the tune of Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away,” Ed Sheeran’s “Afterglow” and The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” He’ll also share the stage with Luke Combs for a duet of “Forever After All.”
GRACE KINSTLER | Of the remaining finalists, only Kinstler can say that she’s been around since Day 1. Her audition in the season premiere got our jaws on the floor, and with show-stopping performances like “Into the Unknown” and “Father,” the impressive beltress has kept ’em there ever since.
The finale will see Kinstler tackling some of the most iconic ballads in diva herstory — Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” — as well as joining Alessia Cara for a duet of “Scars to Your Beautiful.”
WILLIE SPENCE | The judges have been pretty liberal with their spiritual metaphors this season, throwing around words like “angelic” and “religious experience” on a weekly basis. But Spence is one of the few contestants who fully captured that sentiment, consistently transporting us to another place with his soaring vocals and undeniable spirit. He doesn’t just perform — he bares his soul on that stage.
And Spence is keeping things soulful in the finale, as he’s set to perform Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind,” before teaming up with Leona Lewis for a duet of “You Are the Reason.”
My final thoughts: Technically, I would be fine with any of these three winning. This isn’t a Taylor Hicks/Katharine McPhee situation — I really don’t feel that strongly either way. Just between you and me, I pretty much threw all of my support behind Casey Bishop, and her absence from the finale is making it harder for me to care about it. That said, I predict that Beckham will win Season 19, while a win for Kinstler or Spence would be a pleasant surprise.
Which finalist are you rooting for as we head into Sunday’s finale? And who do you predict will win regardless? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your take on this season’s Top 3.