After 15 seasons and hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of hopefuls later, the final votes in American Idol history are about to be cast as the last two combatants square off on the big stage at the Dolby Theater.

The only problem is that we have no idea who those singers will be, with one of La’Porsha Renae, Trent Harmon and Dalton Rapattoni set to be unceremoniously sent packing before anyone can pick up a phone or click a mouse.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

The smart money is on a La’Porsha/Trent duel to the vocal-chord death, but I would have said the same thing about Jax heading into the final performances last season. And in fact, I did, when I blatantly discussed either Jax vs. Nick or Jax vs. Clark. Clark vs. Nick wasn’t even a consideration.

It’s worth reprinting the top of that live blog, because it serves as a reminder that what should happen isn’t always what does happen:

They kick things off by asking who will go head to head, so I’m relieved we’re getting the results out of the way early. Wow, even earlier than the catch phrase drop. This s–t is happening NOW.

Jax is eliminated. Clark and Nick will compete for the title.

Ummmmm, what? Can we cancel the show early? Because this is a travesty. I can’t even pay attention to her departure montage, because more so than the guys, she deserved to be in the finale. 

The crowd, the band — hell, Nick and Clark — are in complete silence, because literally everyone is shocked. It’s such a crazy odd vibe to kick off the show.

I can’t even put into words the pall hovering over the venue right now. No one seems to know what to make of Jax’s abrupt departure. Ryan introduces the judges, with J-Lo rocking a diamond-shaped cleavage cutout, and Keith dressing up with a sport coat over what I can only describe as an oval-necked T-shirt. 

Keith describes the mood as “intense.” Ya think?

So that being said, I wouldn’t be stunned if Dalton somehow garnered more votes than La’Porsha. But it would be a travesty none the less. 

At least the esteemed Jeff Dodge and I agree that Trent Harmon is safe.

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We’ll save the mushy stuff for Thursday, because it’s time to get down to brass tacks.

Sure, Why Not?

So all the while, I’ve been preparing myself for another jarring expulsion to kick off the show. But instead, for some preposterous reason, all three finalists will inexplicably be performing before the elimination is announced at the end. 

What the…? What could possibly be the point of clouding voters’ minds with three performances that don’t matter? It makes absolutely no sense, other than the fact that Idol never ceases to toss baffling wiffle balls when it comes to format. 

And they know who’s out, so the deliberate placement could be one last kick in the ass concerted effort to shape the outcome. Bastards.

This … is American Idol

But anyway, the Top 3 will be doing the standard reprisal, Simon Fuller pick and vote-shaping coronation song (you watching, Clark Beckham? Still performing “Champion?”) before America disregards a third of them in choosing a final champ. 

Trent, La’Porsha and Dalton open with a brief rendition of Kygo’s “Stole the Show,” then Ryan Seacrest drops the tagline and introduces the judges. J-Lo’s dress is mostly see-through, other than some ice cream sprinkles that cover her sundae, while Keith has spruced things up with a leather jacket over his giant star T-shirt. Harry is looking dapper as usual.

And now, it’s time for that last meaningful performances in 15 seasons of the historic once-in-a-generation juggernaut that is American Idol.

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Trent is Falling

Trent is super grateful for this opportunity, and producers have rewarded him with a song called “Falling” should he win. I don’t think they’ve ever done the coronations first, which makes it kind of strange to begin with songs we don’t know. But then again, I always found it odd that they ended every other season that way. 

“Falling” sounds a lot like “Earned It,” so maybe it’d be good in a film. But it allows him to show off his full range and particularly sits in that falsetto sweet spot for just the right amount of time. 

It’s not particularly catchy in the anthem-like way “Beautiful Life” was for Nick Fradiani, but he does everything he can do to wow with a love song. No judging this round, so it’s on to the next. Gotta work fast, I guess, since we’re wasting at least 20 minutes of airtime. 

Dalton Lights One Up

Dalton was always a big Idol fan and always wanted to audition, but he never thought he’d make it past the first round. Because it was the last season, his dad bought his ticket and forced him to try out, and there you have it.

His coronation song is called “Strike a Match,” and it’s more upbeat and punk-y. The verse isn’t conducive to strong vocals, but the tone and message seem to fit Dalton. It opens up on the chorus and turns into a full-on radio song, allowing him to showcase a bit of his range. But vocal prowess isn’t supposed to be his thing.

La’Porsha Goes to Battle

She left her duties as a substitute teacher to set off on a quest to make on the Idol stage, planning to drive from audition to audition with her daughter until she got a yes. But it came fast, as did the whirlwind that followed, and she’s ready to be the bookend to Kelly Clarkson.

Her song is called “Battles,” and it’s an inspirational anthem that perfectly fits her mantra. There’s some un-La’Porsha-like pitch issues at the start that stick around through much of the performance, and I think she forgets some of the lyrics or at least mumbles through them. It’s always a danger when it comes to new songs, and while it’s fine overall, it doesn’t seem very inspired.

3 Becomes 2

Alright, so I guess “they’re all performing” doesn’t mean they all get three songs (I am all over the map with this recap), and so the cut down happens now. It makes some sense, since all the coronations are currently available for purchase. Probably not going to sell many downloads of the one that doesn’t make air.

After a brief word from three nervous contestants, Kieran dims the lights, and…

La’Porsha Renae is safe (a good sign)

Trent Harmon is safe

Dalton Rapattoni is eliminated in third place

His parting montage walks us through his journey, from Andrew Lloyd Webber to Olivia Newton-John to the revelation of his disorder all the way through his tear-jerking Sia week. It’s sad, but this is what was supposed to happen.

If You Don’t Know Trent By Now…

Trent and La’Porsha drew numbers from a hat, and he pulled the one, so here we go. Simon Fuller has chosen “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and from start to finish, he does exactly what you’d expect with it.

It’s essentially flawless, showing both extremes of his range, and there’s nothing negative to say about it. It might not be as memorable as some of his other songs, but what can you critique? Great song choice, and the sky is the limit. The only unknown is if he’ll make music that people want to hear. 

The crowd goes wild, and Keith can barely contain his praise regarding Trent’s development in what he considers will be the closest race yet. J-Lo is glad we finally have a battle, and the performance was proof that Trent isn’t going to take things lying down. Ironically, Harry does feel like he knows Trent by now, but he has nothing but love for the song choice and what Trent did with it. 

La’Porsha’s House is Not a Home

For La’Porsha, Simon Fuller has chosen Dionne Warwick’s “A House is Not a Home,” and I’m not sure that I’m a fan of the selection. Even if J-Lo is singing along at the top of her lungs, I don’t know if it’s something with which viewers will connect.

The overruns are on full display, particularly on a song this slow. And I know she’s amazing, but they’re like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. It’s why I mention them week after week, because they’re so unnecessary. Otherwise, though, she sounds great.

It’s one of Jenny’s top five songs of all time, and there are so many versions from this one to Luther Vandross, and now we have the La’Porsha version. Harry praises her for never overdoing lyrics and always keeping them believable, and while he emotionally loved this one, it also spoke volumes about her musical knowledge. All Keith knows is needs a cigarette right now, and he doesn’t even smoke. Perfect song choice and perfect interpretation. 

Jennifer gives the edge to La’Porsha, but I’m leaning Trent.

Trent Raises the Roof

For his final performance, Trent is reprising Sia’s “Chandelier,” which is arguably already the best of the season. I wrote two weeks ago that while I loved every second of it, I felt he could’ve been even better had opened it up more and showed some power and emotion during the chorus instead of keeping it tempered. And it appears he’s taking my advice and lifting that lighting fixture to an elevated level. Oh boy. 

Yep. Just watched. And enjoyed. Holy. Balls. 

The applause goes on so long that La’Porsha might not have time to perform, and he tears up with gratitude. Harry tells him to be proud of his performance and that he did everything he could to make the decision difficult, while Keith counters he may have just made it very easy for many folks. J-Lo tells him he deserves to win.

Trent then reveals a book that he has written every bit of advice the judges have dispensed this season, which reinforces his infinite likability and basically makes him the anti-Clark Beckham.

La’Porsha Aims for Pimp-Spot Glory

The final slot in Season 15 goes to La’Porsha, who is reprising Rihanna‘s “Diamonds.” It drew overwhelming praise from Kelly Clarkson, but will it be enough to top what Trent just did?

It’s every bit as exquisite as last time, but it’s so chock full of overruns — including one that goes on so long it looks like her eyes are going to pop out of her skull — that it’s nearly all I hear. If the 22-second top-to-bottom runs don’t bother you, you probably love it. I do appreciate the emotion, though, and her vocal prowess is always apparent. 

Keith loved every bit of it and the way the competition has ended up, J-Lo can’t wait to go to a La’Porsha concert, and Harry simply wants to know who she’s thinking of when she sings “you and I.” She tearfully replies the obvious answer that it’s her daughter, and the competition portion of The Farewell Season is officially in the books.

Who’s it Gonna Be?

For my money, it’s Trent. Who is your final American Idol?

The American Idol series finale airs Thursday, April 7 at 8pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order