Soul-singing Fantasia Barrino (search) is favored among oddsmakers to become the next "American Idol" on the hit Fox reality show.
Diana De Garmo's (search) youth may work against the 16-year-old. The winner of the most controversial edition of "American Idol" will be decided tonight.
Soul singer Barrino, 19, and pop princess De Garmo, 16, will go toe- to-toe for the last time on a live one- hour episode of the show with the winner being crowned on tomorrow's two- hour finale.
The smart money is on Barrino to win, according to Internet odds makers who have Fantasia as a 5-2 favorite over De Garmo, who's coming in at 4-1.
But in a season where at least two of the show's other favorites - Jennifer Hudson (search), 22, and La Toya London (search), 25, - got the boot from viewers, and the "Idol" phone-in voting system has been slammed by angry fans, anything is possible.
Despite the potential for an upset, many music industry vets think Fantasia will win.
"Fantasia is clearly the winner for me," says legendary singer - and former guest "Idol" judge - Neil Sedaka.
"She's the more flexible singer, a young Aretha Franklin, she's got the confidence, the communication and she exudes star quality. When I heard her sing 'Summertime' recently, that clinched it for me."
Sedaka said he's even called into the show to vote for Fantasia a few times this season.
Paula Abdul (search), one of the show's three judges, wouldn't say who she thinks will win, but said she believes the voting will be close.
"I think it's like last season, it's split down the middle," she told The New York Post yesterday at an event to promote the new Coca-Cola soda, C2. "I think they're both complete opposites just like Rubin [Studdard] and Clay [Aiken] were - equal fan bases. There were very similar margins toward the end, between the two," she said.
"I like them both," said singer and Broadway star Deborah Gibson. "Judging from the fact that [previous runners-up] Kimberly [Caldwell] and Clay [Aiken] have such great careers, I think it's more about the exposure.
"But I guess I'd say Fantasia will take it, because she has a few more years of experience than Diana, who's younger and is still finding herself. Still, I think she's got the drive and the chops to develop it further."
Gibson said that if the show had been around when she was a teenager, she would have been one of those people camped out on the street trying to get in for an audition.
Even Q104.3 radio personality Zach Martin believes Fantasia will win.
"There's something about her voice and the judges seem to favor her more," he said. "I don't recall them ever saying anything negative about her.
"The other thing that she has going for her is the single name Fantasia that she can use on records," Martin said. "It's like Oprah, Fiona or Madonna. It's just something I can hear Top 40 radio jocks around the country glomming onto."