Here we are, Idol fans. The moment is finally upon us. Who will win season 13 of American Idol? On one side, we’ve got the Wild Card. On the other, the wild child. At least, that’s how the show described this match-up last night.
Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene took to the stage for the final time before America voted for the winner. Simon Fuller was in the house to watch the contestants perform songs he chose. Caleb and Jena also reprised their best performances of the season. (While that was the case with Jena, Caleb should have gone with “Skyfall.”) And then of course they performed the winner’s single.
When I made my final prediction of the season last year, I not only got it wrong in predicting Kree as the winner, but I also said it was one of the closest finales in terms of trying to figure out who would win. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t close — and this season is most likely closer. But a year later, will I get it right this time or am I bound for a second loss in a row?
Let’s run through Caleb and Jena’s chances of winning American Idol:
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If I had to go with the safe bet on who will win, it’d be Caleb. Let’s face it: he’s from the South and that pretty much guarantees you the win. Actually, scratch ‘pretty much’ because it does guarantee you the win. Every time someone from the South has made the finals, that singer has always won. This puts Caleb in the strongest position.
What else does he have in his favor? The pimp spot. While it’s not a 100% guarantee like with their home state, the contestant who has delivered the very final performance has been declared the champion most of the time. I still don’t get why Jena went first; she won the coin toss after all and was handed the pimp spot on a silver platter, but decided against it. Why? Beats me. (Either she figured she was in a strong enough position to win and didn’t need it or else she doesn’t want to win.)
For weeks, Caleb was the absolutely frontrunner. Then something interesting happened. Ever since Caleb made those controversial remarks, the diehard fans online have cooled to him and started preferring Jena more. What helps Caleb is that the vast majority of viewers most likely haven’t even heard of the controversy.
Gender is a big thing to talk about when it comes to winners of American Idol. David Cook started the trend of male winners, which continued with Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. That trend was broken last year when the guys were voted off one after the other in the first half of the live shows. We all know the producers/judges purposefully tilted everything in the girls’ favor, so does that mean we’ll be back to having a guy win? This year, the producers certainly favored White Guys With Guitars. But I wouldn’t necessary put Caleb in that category since’s he’s the rocker and not the singer/songwriter type like Alex Preston or recent male winners.
The final performance night doesn’t necessarily make a difference in who wins. Just look at Clay Aiken’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in season 2. Another example that comes to mind is season 10 — Lauren Alaina had the best final night over Scotty McCreery, but we knew weeks before that Scotty was going to win regardless. Last night, Caleb won Round 1, Jena obviously won Round 2 and for Round 3, it’s close because neither song was the best. But I would give that one to Caleb just because his voice was so much better on “As Long as You Love Me” than Jena was on “We Are One.” So does this final night matter with Caleb and Jena? It’s hard to tell. Let me know in the comments if you think it affected the votes.
Finally, let’s look at talent. There’s no doubt Caleb is extremely talented. Pretty much every week, he has stepped on the Idol stage and rocked out like no one else. From “Skyfall” to “Dazed and Confused” and many more, it’s hard to match the energy and concert-worthy performances he has given. Then there’s the fact that he hasn’t been afraid to take on unexpected artists like Adele, Aretha Franklin and Carrie Underwood. Most contestants don’t do that because they want to stick to their zone and not venture out for fear of falling flat on their faces.
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It’s been said a lot that Jena is the Wild Card. America did not vote for her during Rush Week. While the judges made some terrible decisions that week (like not letting Briana Oakley or Kenz Hall perform), it’s a good thing they gave Jena a spot in the Top 13 because this competition wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Early on, Harry Connick, Jr. called her the sleeper. Then once Jena performed “Decode,” she was taken more seriously and called a dark horse. But as the weeks went on and she kept popping out exceptional performances like “Bring Me to Life” and especially “Creep,” she became one of the frontrunners. All of a sudden, people were getting excited for a possible Caleb/Jena finale.
Then the moment happened. And when I say moment, I mean the moment of season 13, one of the best performances not only of this year but of any year: “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Many declared her the winner after that.
So now here she is in the Top 2, ready to be declared either the winner or runner-up. As far as potential in the real world, Jena is by far more marketable than Caleb. She can go down the pop/alt-rock path and do well — if she’s paired with the right producers and songs, that is. Phillip Phillips wasn’t the best singer the year he won, but he got lucky with songs like “Home” and “Gone Gone Gone.” Even his latest single sounds great. Jena, on the other hand, is one of the best singers this season, so we all would hope that the record label that signs her should she win will get behind her and spend the time, money and effort to make it work, especially after dropping the ball on Candice.
The tone in Jena’s voice is absolutely fantastic. Her weakness, vocally, is her lower register. But when she’s on, which she is most of the time, she kills it. She gave the best performance of the season, for crying out loud. That should count for something, right? Well, yes, but it doesn’t always happen. Clay Aiken, Blake Lewis, Adam Lambert and others had the best performance in their respective seasons but didn’t win.
If Jena wins, she’d be the first Wild Card contestant to ever win American Idol. That would be exciting to see. But will it happen…
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Who Will Win American Idol Season 13?
My four favorites this season were Alex Preston, Caleb Johnson, Jena Irene and Jessica Meuse. All of them made the Top 4, so now that we’re down to the Top 2, it’s hard for me to choose, from a personal standpoint. Caleb and Jena are both fantastic. And this might be the first time in the history of American Idol (well, maybe aside Ruben vs. Clay) that I don’t really care who wins because I’ll be happy either way.
But one of their names will be called out by Ryan Seacrest tonight. So who will it be?
I am predicting that Caleb Johnson will win American Idol season 13.
It seems like most fans online are wanting to see Jena win. And it’s obvious why, and I agree with them. But I think Caleb being from the South along with other factors will secure him the victory. (I did think Christina Grimmie would win The Voice last night, so at this point, who knows if I’ll miss the mark completely for both shows.) Jena deserves it as well, so if she does win, I’ll be excited because she has so much potential and she’d be making history. Either way, it’s a win-win for me.
Who do you think will win? Am I taking the safe route with predicting Caleb? It is a given that he’ll be the winner? And what about Jena — will she make history tonight? Share your predictions in the comments below.
The American Idol season 13 finale airs tonight at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.