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'American Idol' finale: And the last two contestants are...

Left to right: Trent Harmon, La'Porsha Renae and Dalton Rapattoni on Wednesday's 'American Idol.'

Left to right: Trent Harmon, La'Porsha Renae and Dalton Rapattoni on Wednesday's 'American Idol.'

6

April

It’s no Kelly vs. Justin, Clay vs. Ruben or Kris vs. Adam. But after 15 seasons, we’re down to our final two contestants on American Idol.

Soulful crooner Trent Harmon and bold belter La’Porsha Renae will go head to head in Thursday’s two-hour, star-studded series finale, as doe-eyed pop-punk Dalton Rapattoni got the boot on Wednesday's episode.

Native Mississippians Harmon and Renae are about the best Idol could’ve hoped for at this point in its run. Like all recent finalists since 2012, they face long odds to superstardom in the face of waning interest in the Idol experience.

But neither is an egregious blemish on the show’s reputation. That might’ve happened had Rapattoni – a solid stage presence whose vocal limitations became all too clear over the course of the season – made the finals.

“I’m just glad that America cared to listen for so long,” Rapattoni said. (And hey, to his credit, his woulda-been coronation single, the power-poppy Strike a Match, was my favorite of the three. Throw the guy a bone, and go ahead and get it on iTunes.)

Now it’s down to Renae, a big, irrepressible personality and inspirational presence who seems impossible not to like; and Harmon, who as a country crooner could follow in the lucrative footsteps of Carrie Underwood or Scotty McCreery.

Is there a favorite? Many would say Renae; she’d be a welcome break from Idol’s general history of putting cute young white guys over women and people of color, and would allow the show to spike the football by saying, Look, anyone really CAN win this show. And judge Jennifer Lopez gave her neo-soulful performance of Dionne Warwick’s A House is Not a Home the edge over Harmon’s take on the Philly R&B classic If You Don’t Know Me By Now.

On the other hand, don’t think Nashville-based Big Machine Records isn’t looking at the genial Harmon and thinking he could slide into Sam Hunt/Thomas Rhett territory, bringing a hint of Timberlakian pop flavor to Music Row. His stripped-down, standing-O performance of Sia’s Chandelier – not exactly a gimme song – was the performance of the night, hands down.

“I think for the first time in a long time, we actually have a battle going here,” Lopez said. We’ll find out who wins at 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox. Check back here afterward for a recap of the Idol series finale.

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 10:19pm]

    

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