The finale looks to be a showdown between Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens. The 13-year-old Sonenclar has been an early favorite since she blew the judges away with her rendition of "Feeling Good" at her audition. Britney Spears' last finalist repeated the performance during Wednesday night's finale and received rave reviews once again.
However, Sonenclar may have peaked too soon. In particular, many felt her duet with LeAnn Rimes on finale night was painful to watch and listen to. TMZ felt that Rimes looked "drunk" on stage, and while the website noted that Sonenclar sounds good, Rimes' performance may have cost the teen a few votes. Reality television blogger extraordinaire also Michael Slezak called the duet "a mess." Still, she has been one of the strongest and most consistent vocalists all season long.
The other favorite, Tate Stevens, has earned fans with his strong country voice and likeable everyman vibe. He has been solid, if perhaps not spectacular, every week, and has traded the top spot amongst voters with Sonenclar throughout the competition.
Stevens continued this streak on Wednesday night with performances of Chris Young's "Tomorrow" and a duet with Little Big Town on their hit song "Pontoon." He, like Sonenclar, also repeated his original audition song, "Anything Goes." While "X Factor" mostly appeals to a younger audience, Stevens will likely have the vote from middle America, which could put him over the top. In addition, the two younger acts remaining could split the vote among teen audiences, leading to a Stevens victory.
The wildcard in this" X Factor USA" finale is Simon Cowell's last artist, the girl group Fifth Harmony. The quintet was put together by Cowell himself earlier this season and immediately turned heads with a performance of "Impossible" by Shontelle right before the live shows.
Since then, they remained solidly in the middle of the pack for much of the season, only to face the dreaded sing-off two weeks ago. The group survived thanks to a stirring performance of "Anytime You Need A Friend." The five girls then hit their stride the following week, with two strong performances that bumped them into the finals over favorite Emblem3, a boy band that had never before been in the bottom two. They certainly have the momentum on their side, and their underdog story appeals to a mass audience.