Updated: Who deserves to win X Factor 2013 based on these three scenarios?

by Gerard McGarry

sam bailey luke friend nicholas mcdonald

We’ve come a long way together, folks. Struggled through big band week and grimaced through some fairly atrocious Elton John cover versions. But the end is in sight. We’ve reached the grand, two-night finale of The X Factor.

Ellie Golding returns to the show for the second time this season to duet with Luke Friend. Judge Nicole Scherzinger (who just happens to be in the same studio on the night) will be singing with Sam Bailey, although we’d have loved it if Sharon Osbourne had been up for a sing-along. Professional stool-crooner Shane Filan will be assisting Nicholas McDonald.

But which of the three finalists deserves to win this weekend? There are three main scenarios we looked at for this piece:

Update: due to Luke Friend being voted off, we’re really down to just two options. Check them out below!

Scenario 1: The Best Singer Wins

sam bailey big bandAnd it’s a no-brainer. Sam Bailey, on an extended sabbatical from locking down the thuggish products of Broken Britain, is without a doubt the best singer in the competition. She’s been banging out top-notch versions of classic diva tracks every week of the competition. In terms of sheer consistency, Sam has been hitting home runs the whole way through this series.

The negatives: We’ve been here before with X Factor: a female singer of a certain age with a strong voice makes an impact. Ruth Lorenzo, Mary Byrne, Niki Evans. Sure, this works for the voting audience, but will it sell records? Which brings us to:

Scenario 2: The Most Commercially Viable Singer Wins

luke friendUpdate: As of tonight, Luke Friend fell at the final hurdle, leaving this year’s X Factor a strictly Sam Bailey/Nicholas McDonald affair, and meaning we’re one step closer to the Second Leon Jackson Apocalypse.

Out of the three remaining, which one can sell records and actually have a hit? That would be Luke Friend. The dreadlocked singer, who looks like a botched clone of Kimberley Walsh certainly has the talent. We can see him as a songwriter and guitar player and all-round great performer. And it’s perhaps no co-incidence that he’s been paired with One Direction for the final – aligning him with Cowell’s biggest hit machine could reflect well on Luke and attract the strong voter base that follow 1D.

The negatives: While he’s been improving week-on-week, Luke still hasn’t really come into his own yet. The thing is, we know who he is as an artist and can bank on what kind of music he’d release. It’s hard to picture Sam Bailey as anything other than a covers artist at this point.

Scenario 3: Scotland Brings On The Second Leon Jackson Apocalypse

nicholas mcdonaldFirst up, before you start sending in the hate mail, we don’t hate Nicholas McDonald. But when you’re expected to comment on contestants on a nationwide talent show, you’ve got to be honest. And to be honest, Nicholas should have been sent home precisely six weeks ago when it became blatantly obvious that he can’t sing very well. It looks like Louis Walsh has very deftly played the nationality card and compelled Scotland to vote to keep mini-Braveheart in the show. But does he deserve his place? No way.

Look, simply put The X Factor is a singing competition. You can sing like Luke Friend or you can belt out classic like Sam Bailey. And a little charisma helps too. Even as late as last week, Nicholas appeared on stage looking almost sheepish. Forgivable in the first week, a travesty by the time semi-finals roll around. Unfortunately, as our subtitle implied, a Nicholas McDonald win would essentially be history repeating itself and X Factor will end this year with a crushingly forgettable winner.

Gerard McGarry is a jet-setting, world-renowned Reality TV critic. In real life, Gerard works with web and social media strategy. His personal blog is at GerardMcGarry.com or follow him on Twitter @gerrybot