December 21, 2011 12:52am PT by THR Staff
'X Factor' Final Three: THR Experts Make Their Picks
The X Factor finale is less than 24 hours away, but going into its last round, even after three months of competition, there is still no clear winner as each of the final three -- Melanie Amaro, 19, Josh Krajcik, 30, and Chris Rene, 28 -- offers something completely different.
What to make of this toss-up? An argument, for one, so THR gathered music editor Shirley Halperin, Live Feed writer-reporter Jethro Nededog and Idol Worship blogger Michele Angermiller for their individual takes on who will win X Factor’s inaugural season.
Why Josh Krajcik will win...
You have to hand it to Nicole Scherzinger: she saw -- and heard -- something special in the burly burrito maker from Columbus Ohio. The Pussycat Dolls' singer dubbed it “Krajcik Magic:” the awe-inspiring way in which this unlikely star injects raw human emotion into every verse, his tone warm (weathered by whiskey and cigarettes), inviting and irresistible.
Still, it’s easy to forget how the judges and TV viewers had basically written off Josh before his audition even began. Blame it on song choice: Etta James’ “At Last.” Cowell and crew had heard so many godawful versions of the soul classic, that expectations were understandably low. Then, Josh sang his first note, flooring the judges by the time he hit the chorus. It would be an exercise he’d reenact for weeks on end: The Beatles' “Something,” Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender,” Rihanna's "We Found Love" -- no song was too big for Josh Krajcik, and once he whipped out the guitar… well, there was no contest. In fact, it was only recently that viewers got a true appreciation for how incredibly musical Josh truly is, which is exactly the kind of pedigree that equals an advantage in the music business. Because it takes more than a good voice, you need a good ear, the ability to follow along, jam expertly with others and make smart decisions -- in other words, the wisdom and experience that comes with being over 30. — Shirley Halperin
Why Melanie Amaro will win...
It’s strange to think that Melanie Amaro may have been cut way back at the judges’ homes auditions. Shoot, it was hard to believe then. Because to look at her now is to look at The X Factor winner. If anyone deserves it, it’s the Florida native with British Virgin Island roots. Melanie has been the most consistent performer in the competition and America has noticed -- voting appropriately. She can sing just about anything thrown at her. And just when people began to wonder if there was anything more to her than a powerful voice, she let loose the hidden accent and the story of strength it took to reveal it.
The biggest critique thrown her way is that she could be predictable when it came to song choice, but since when was it bad to know what kind of artist you are? Comparisons to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are natural and she really should accept them happily. Both artists were able to cross over between genres, collaborate with the best artists and producers in the business, and sell a whole lot of albums while doing so. In this age of auto-tune, reality stars-turned-singers, and gimmicky pop, America could do much worse than picking someone who could actually sing. And at only 19, I look forward to seeing what Melanie has yet to reveal about herself. — Jethro Nededog
Why Chris Rene will win...
We’ve always known him to be the dark horse of the competition, and even with internet polling pointing to a Melanie Amaro-Josh Krajcik showdown, there is clearly a case for our trashcan Sinatra, crooner Chris Rene. Rene has been a frontrunner since his much celebrated first performance of his original song, “Young Homie.” Since that audition, over 10 million people have viewed the clip on YouTube and it remains the most popular video from the entire season. This may also have something to do with the fact that Rene is easy on the eyes, with or without the hat, but beyond the good looks, Chris can take this contest because he's already demonstrated the sort of artistry we have not yet seen with the other contestants -- namely, the ability to write his own songs.
In fact, anytime he performs one of his tunes, he owns the night. To boot, he feels comfortable in multiple genres, be it reggae, hip-hop or even romantic ballads. And isn’t that important in today’s musical climate? Think about artists like Bruno Mars or Cee Lo Green, who offer musical styles in all colors of the rainbow,
As for those who say Chris only sounds good on his own songs, I urge you to take another listen. Sugar Ray’s cougar anthem “Fly” was perfect when Chris sang it while his version of Alicia Keys' “No One” wasn't all that far off from John Mayer's live rendition. And can we talk about connection? There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Chris brought up his late father -- no wonder that humble demeanor has carried the Santa Cruz, Calif. native through. To quote L.A. Reid, Chris Rene is “the truth.” — Michele Amabile Angermiller
What say you, X Factor fans? Who's going to win this thing? Leave your thoughts in the comments.