‘American Idol’ down to final five

Matt Busekroos

The eighth season of “American Idol” is slowly coming to a close with only five contestants remaining in the singing competition: Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, Matt Giraud, Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert. The April 22 broadcast cut the contestants from seven to five with the eliminations of Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai. The double elimination was thanks to a new rule where the judges could save one contestant up until the final six. With the judges saving Giraud, both Rounds and Desai were sent home.

While still the No. 1 show on television, “American Idol” has come under scrutiny in recent months with the addition of a fourth judge, song-writer Kara DioGuardi. Reports of backstage fighting between DioGuardi and Paula Abdul have been alleged over the past few months. With Abdul’s contract up at the end of the season, there is speculation whether she will continue as a judge on the show or if DioGuardi was brought in as a transition if Abdul actually leaves.

With the finale approaching (set to air on FOX Wednesday, May 20), only one of the five contestants can be the ‘American Idol.’ So, who will it be?

Kris Allen

Why He Will Win:
Allen’s consistency has kept him in the competition. Ranging from his evocative interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” to his new spin on Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money,” this dark horse has showed that he has what it takes to make it in the music industry. Plus, his style of music is popular right now (see Jason Mraz). Allen’s skills on the guitar have added another layer to his performances. It does not hurt that Allen consistently chooses the perfect songs depending on the theme.

Why He Won’t Win:
His quiet vocal styling will go unnoticed in a head-to-head battle with Iraheta or Lambert. Allen was also never expected to make it this far in the competition; his screen time was minimal going into the semi-finals and many wrote him off as just another pretty face with a mediocre voice.

Allison Iraheta

Why She Will Win:
From the first time Iraheta took the stage and performed Heart’s “Alone,” it was clear that there was no other female left in the competition who could match her vocal prowess. Iraheta is an underdog of sorts. She was never shoved down the audience’s throat and has consistently delivered with original and spirited performances. There may just be a place on radio for Iraheta between P!nk and original “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson.

Why She Won’t Win:
Have you listened to her speak? Even though she is only 16, Iraheta sounds like a 45-year-old waitress from Las Vegas with a bad smoking habit. Iraheta’s personality has also been scrutinized by Simon Cowell, which does not bode well because the voting public rarely strays from Cowell’s opinion. While not the most articulate young woman, Iraheta still has time to grow.

Matt Giraud

Why He Will Win:
Giraud’s smoky voice has been put to good use on a number of hits, past and present. His skill on the piano has not gone unnoticed and that could bode well for the future in writing songs and collaborating with artists. Giraud’s performances of Carrie Underwood’s “So Small” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” have showed his range in successfully singing different styles of music.

Why He Won’t Win:
Giraud made the top 13 as a wild card, which shows limited support with the viewing public. Not to mention, Giraud received the judges’ only save of the season. Essentially, he was voted out by America twice in one season. Also, it is not quite clear the kind of music Giraud wants to make (he mentioned liking Chris Martin’s style, but “Viva la Vida” was one of his worst performances). His time may be up tonight.

Danny Gokey

Why He Will Win:
Gokey’s background story tugs at the heartstrings; only weeks before his “Idol” audition, his wife passed away. Over the past few months, Gokey has sung a number of uplifting songs that have surely garnered support from the Bible-belt of America. Gokey’s voice is pleasant and unoffensive. Let’s face it: he would not make the show’s worst winner (see Taylor Hicks).

Why He Won’t Win:
Gokey’s story has also turned off a number of viewers, who find that he is using a personal tragedy as sympathy in order for people to vote for him. One disgusting tribute occurred during a performance of “Hero” when the camera panned over to a friend of his who was holding a picture of Gokey’s wife up to the camera. Also, the type of music best suited for Gokey post-show may be on a Christian label, which may not appeal to most.

Adam Lambert

Why He Will Win:
Lambert’s authentic performances have been the most memorable this season. His performance of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” was a defining moment of the season, and garnered kudos from all four judges (they gave Lambert a standing ovation, including Cowell). The key to Lambert’s success has been his risky song choices (“Ring of Fire,” “Play That Funky Music,” “Born to Be Wild”) coupled with a few unforgettable arrangements that have made his performances worth re-watching as soon as they appear on YouTube.

Why He Won’t Win:
Lambert’s eccentric outward appearance may turn off more conservative viewers. See those photos of him in drag? Also, his voice may work better on Broadway than on the pop charts. Will his theatrical persona trip him up on the way to the Nokia Theatre?