There are those seasons of "American Idol" when one contestant develops over the course of the show, has a breakthrough performance midway through and grows into a worthy champion by the finale. Kelly Clarkson  and David Cook , I'm looking at you.
This is not one of those seasons. This year is a Carrie Underwood  kind of season, where it's been apparent from the post-Hollywood rounds who is going to win this thing. This year, it's Crystal Bowersox.
More 'American Idol' on Billboard.com:
I knew from this performance that she was the frontrunner:
Video: Crystal sings Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason"
Crystal defined the kind of artist she was early on -- and that, plus her compelling backstory, means that she's received a lot of screen time since the show's debut in January. Among "Idol" alums, this is generally held to be the biggest deciding factor on how well people do in the competition.
She's covered classics by artists that have knocked out other contestants:
Video: Crystal sings Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee"
And she's had the kind of "American Idol" moment that judges are always hectoring the contestants to seek out.
Video: Crystal sings the Impressions' "People Get Ready"
Sure, Lee DeWyze has come on strong in the past few weeks -- and in all honesty the duet between Lee and Crystal on "Falling Slowly" was my favorite performance of the season. But Crystal's been so consistent for so long that she's transcended the horserace appeal of "Idol."
Video: Crystal & Lee sing Swell Season's "Falling Slowly"
And, perhaps most importantly, she confessed her love for "Caddyshack" on national television.
Video: Crystal sings Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright" (from "Caddyshack")
Enjoy the confetti shower next week, Crystal! The hard work begins after that.
- News