Finally, the "American Idol" final four face off Wednesday night.

Let's go to our handicaps.



Strengths This season's purest talent - a sinuous, bluesy voice that doesn't fall apart when it ventures into the high registers, but gains in power. She sometimes seems remote or without emotion, but showed vulnerability when she sang "People Get Ready" (by the Impressions) the week Alicia Keys mentored.

Weaknesses Has stumbled with song choices in recent weeks and not interested in crowd-pleasing bubble-gum pop.

Bottom line Conventional wisdom has crowned her the winner, but "Conventional Wisdom" isn't allowed to vote. She may be too remote after all.



Strengths When Big Mike sang Maxwell's "This Woman's Work" a couple of months ago, he established himself as the guy to beat, by commanding the stage, while building a torch song, note by note, into something powerful and memorable.

Weaknesses That was then. This is now. Lynche hasn't lost much over the course of this season, but hasn't gained much either. He's blandly consistent.

Bottom line Voters, if not the judges, seem to have abandoned him. He's in trouble.



Strengths Anyone want to bet Casey picks that nice old up-tempo Kenny Loggins song "I'm Alright" tonight for the Songs of the Cinema edition? James' fans like him for his stage presence and personality - he's Mr. Optimism.

Weaknesses Not the strongest voice of our Final Foursome, and those recent near-eliminations indicate not enough Casey fans are out there.

Bottom line Won't win. Period.


Strengths The wise man of our little group, who knows his strengths and weaknesses well - and seems to have the best grasp of what pleases the judges, viewers and (most important) himself. Since landing in the Top 24, he hasn't really made a strategically poor song choice. Many older "Idol" viewers, for example, may not have known Owl City's "Fireflies" (his Billboard Top 100 song choice), but the vast spread of younger, high volume voters certainly did.

Weaknesses DeWyze has had pitch problems, but those seem to have largely disappeared.

Bottom line He will be in the top two and - if viewers reward pluck, growth, and good-to-very-good pipes - will win.