Siapa Juara American Idol 10? Lauren Atau Scotty?

Mainkan butang di bawah bagi menonton dan mendengar nyanyian Lauren Alaina
Alaina, a 16-year-old cheerleader from Rossville, Ga., has a beyond-her-years voice and a style that leans toward the country-pop of Underwood or Faith Hill. Though her nerves often get the better of her, especially during results shows, she has been a favorite since a Nashville audition that prompted judge Steven Tyler to say, "We may have found the one today."

Mainkan butang di bawah bagi menonton dan mendengar nyanyian Scotty McCreery
At 17, McCreery is still a work in progress as a singer. But he has a resonant bass voice, practically unheard-of on Idol, and great intangibles, like humility, an instinct for playing to the moment and a Southern charm that disarmed even Lady Gaga. From the start of the finals, the high-schooler from Garner, N.C., has appeared untouchable, never having been among the bottom vote-getters.

In recent seasons, singers such as David Cook and Kris Allen hit on a winning formula by recasting familiar tunes like Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and Kanye West's Heartless with fresh arrangements and by developing dramatically during the show's run.

Alaina and McCreery have gained confidence in their performances and learned how to play to the cameras, but neither has improved much as a singer.

Whichever singer wins will break the apparent stranglehold that soft-rockers in their 20s have had on Idol's top spot the past three years. Even if McCreery gives the show its fourth consecutive male champion, he'll be the first male teen and the first country-singing guy to win the contest. Alaina would be the first woman to win since Jordin Sparks in 2007.

The trail Alaina blazed to the finale validates the producers' decision to drop the eligibility age to 15 last year. They made several other changes, too, bringing in Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges, enlisting A-list producers to work with the singers, and adding online voting. The online vote helped generate a phenomenal volume of votes — 95 million last week, a total surpassed by only two finales.

In some ways, the retooled Idol has accomplished what it needed to coming off a season many regarded as its weakest. Instead of the usual slate of few true contenders and a bunch of cannon fodder, the competition offered a varied lineup of good singers who had a genuine shot at the title. (Many Idol observers maintain that balladeer Pia Toscano, who placed ninth, is the season's greatest talent.)

At the season's start, Idol producers simply hoped not to lose too much of the show's audience. With gentle judges nurturing a diverse cast of singers, however, it kept 95% of its 18-49 adult demographic and actually gained 4% in total viewers. That's important, especially with the looming launch of departed judge Simon Cowell's X Factor this fall.

The new Idol also engaged teens, the kind of viewers most likely to convert to buyers. That could help Idol meet its next challenge: generating a champion who can make a significant impact in the commercial marketplace. Season 7 winner Cook was the last Idol contestant to produce a platinum album in the USA.

Though a final showdown that runs the gamut from traditional country to country-pop could pull fewer viewers and fewer votes, Season 10 already has produced more than one surprise, including rebounding ratings and unexpected eliminations. If these two young singers can energize the audience of country music fans who watch the show, then this week's winner could emerge as a legitimate star.

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