If you’re going to put money on which of the four finalists will win season 15 of NBC’s “The Voice,” the safe money says bet on country.
The question is, which kind of country?
Will it be Southern rock-influenced Chris Kroeze – the first finalist from Wisconsin in the show’s history?
Or Kirk Jay, a more modern country-pop artist who brings some much-needed diversity to a genre sorely lacking it?
Or Chevel Shepherd, the 16-year-old with impressive pipes seasoned with a Dolly Parton-style twang?
And just because country artists make up three-fourths of “The Voice” finalists, don’t count out R&B singer Kennedy Holmes.
So who’s going to win $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Music Group? Ahead of the season’s final performances Monday (8 EST/PST), and Tuesday’s finale (9 EST/PST), we weigh their odds.
Backstory: The 27-year-old family man from Barron, Wisconsin — population 3,318 — has shown gradual improvement on coach Blake Shelton’s team since his blind audition.
What he’s got going for him: Shelton called Kroeze a “dark horse” in the competition, but it looks like he could win it all. He’s likable and humble, with an endearing backstory (a small-town artist, he’s also performed for troops overseas). He’s got bluesy guitar chops and a raspy voice, and in the past two weeks, he won a boost by having the most-streamed song on Apple Music among his competitors. He also has at least three times as many Facebook followers as his competitors.
What’s going against him: Kroeze admitted in last week’s episode that he’s not the most animated live performer, and his voice, while rich, is the least flashy and versatile of the final four. And the kind of songs he’s performed on the show — Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” — aren’t exactly setting