In Season Four, Carrie Underwood was the clear favourite from the top 11 onward, so your mileage for that season likely depends on how whether you liked her or not. As far as the producers and judges were concerned, most of the season was a project in keeping the praise for Carrie somewhat muted while they busied themselves in concocting a halfway credible challenger for the finale.
And this season we have a redux. Lee DeWyze was handed the #1 contendership around the top six or seven, once it became clear that Siobhan Magnus was too streaky and unpredictable to be taken seriously. Lee has to be the most bland and unexciting finalist in the show's history. I can't see any sort of successful career in his future, he's not as edgy as past rocker successes like Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert, and doesn't have nearly enough personality to engage an audience once he's not stuffed and propped up on a stage on national TV each week.
Lee reached the final in part by getting picked to perform Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with a gospel choir and all the fixins, while Casey James was forced to sing a sleepy John Mayer song off in the corner of the stage. The favouritism shown during Top Three week may have rivaled Season Three, when the judges all but escorted Jasmine Trias from the show in order to ensure that Diana DeGarmo took on Fantasia in the finals. Jasmine sucked and had no business being in the top three, but that's not really the point. Meanwhile, Diana had no shot against Fantasia.
Even Crystal's performances have seemed a bit boring for the past few weeks, although I have a feeling she'll pull out all the stops on Tuesday and remind us why she was the clear and obvious best all-around performer this season. During the finale -- and you can bank on this -- the judges will award Round One to Crystal, Round Two to Lee (albeit narrowly), and take a non-stance on Round Three (featuring a crappy winners ballad that doesn't fit either contestant's style).