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Expect a lackluster 'Idol' finale

Dale Roe

The "American Idol" finale (7 p.m. Wednesday, Fox) live from L.A.'s Nokia Theatre, will have both kinds of music, as the old joke goes: country and western.

Your enjoyment of the festivities largely will depend on how much you like the genre, as both smirkin' Scotty McCreery and sweet, confidence-challenged Lauren Alaina duke it out for the title of Season 10 grand champion.

"My goodness! I must be the luckiest girl in America!" Alaina recently tweeted, complete with smiley emoticon. Isn't that wholesome?

I have to confess that after two seasons of surgically dissecting "American Idol" for weekly recaps, I checked out early this year. I watched the auditions, Hollywood week and a few of the early rounds, mainly to get a grip on how the new judging panel would work out (Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined Randy Jackson as judges this season).

So, I was disappointed to tune back in last week to discover that America had whittled down the top three to competent but bland teen country crooners Alaina and McCreery, and growling Haley Reinhart, who only in comparison to her two competitors could be described as exciting (and, of course, she was voted off).

Where is this season's envelope-pushing Adam Lambert? I guess that was theatrical metalhead James Durbin, who was sent packing a few weeks ago. No late-blooming powerhouse like Season 1's Kelly Clarkson? Well, it was clear as far back as the audition rounds that the "Idol" producers were pushing Alaina as Clarkson's heir, but that is an off-a-cliff-sized push.

So we have potentially wound up with the most boring "Idol" finale since Season 7, when Davids Archuleta and Cook did their best to keep America awake long enough to vote (Cook came out on top). I think the show's predominantly young, female voting bloc will land McCreery on top, but I don't think it really matters - Alaina's no Carrie Underwood and McCreery always seems to be playing a character, but both of these contestants are young and talented and ready to be processed, packaged and sold by Nashville.

Producers are predictably tight-lipped about guests on Wednesday's finale, but ousted Season 10 contestant Casey Abrams has indicated that he'll perform with comic-rocker Jack Black. And Lambert will be there, but it's unclear whether he'll be a performer or a viewer. In the end, we all have something to look forward to: after Wednesday, we won't have to hear Jackson say a contestant is "in it to win it" for another eight months.