Madison VanDenburg will take to the “American Idol” stage one last time tonight for the season finale. She’s slated to face off against contestants Alejandro Aranda and Laine Hardy for the big win (8-11 p.m., Channel 10, ABC).
The finale comes after a whirlwind of a year for the Shaker High School student. It started last October with her first audition.
“I started off auditioning for ‘American Idol’ at a random bus stop in Buffalo and I went into that audition super unprepared. I actually thought I had screwed it all up. It ended up being the opposite and things just kept rolling,” VanDenburg said on Tuesday during her performance at The Crossings in Colonie.
She sang “Speechless” by Dan + Shay for the aired audition and in the finale, she’ll be performing with the duo. Quite a leap for a 17-year-old.
It seems as though judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan have been impressed with VanDenburg’s performances from the first aired audition to the most recent episode. On a few occasions, Richie has said that VanDenburg’s voice has a richness that sounds far beyond her years. Bryan also called her the next Kelly Clarkson, who won the very first “Idol” competition in 2002.
“It is absolutely amazing how much you’ve grown and I can’t even imagine where you’re going to for the finale because the last two notes you just hit are way out of the stratosphere,” Richie said after VanDenburg’s rendition of P!nk’s “What About Us.”
According to BetOnline.ag, VanDenburg was the second favorite as of Thursday.
Aranda was even money (1-1) to win the title, while VanDenburg was 2-1 and Hardy 5-2, according to Dave Mason, the Sportsbook Brand Manager at BetOnline.ag.
Tonight’s episode will be packed with stars like Weezer, Carrie Underwood, Daddy Yankee, Kool + The Gang, Adam Lambert, and all three judges will also perform.
In the Capital Region though, all eyes will be on VanDenburg. Her friends, community members and fans will be celebrating at Shaker High School with a viewing party in the auditorium. The finale begins at 8 p.m. on ABC. For more information about the show and how to vote, abc.go.com.