The American Idol finale is Sunday night on ABC, and all season, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan have raved that this season's contestants are the most talented ever. But let's ask host Ryan Seacrest, who, unlike the judges, has actually been around for all 19 seasons.
"It definitely stands out," Ryan confirms. O.K., so why is that? He tells ABC Audio, "The contestants had a chance to Zoom in their auditions, which made it accessible to really everyone...so we had a wide pool to choose from."
But Ryan also notes that the contestants may appear super-talented because unlike last year, he and the judges have been actually able to see them perform in the studio. "I think we missed feeling the energy of performances," he says. "So I think you've got that component as well."
The final three are Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence, who are all, Ryan says, "very different."
"I think it'll be close...to my knowledge, there hasn't been much of a runaway so far," Ryan reveals. "But it does fluctuate. It's a real-time vote. And it's interesting to see the votes move as soon as the performance has happened...Because then they're top of mind to the viewer. So it'll be fun to watch it."
But, he adds, "Whoever wins, the others will support that person. I believe that...They're very tight with each other." Which apparently isn't always the case, according to Ryan's Live with Kelly & Ryan co-host, Kelly Ripa.
"He said in past seasons, sometimes the runners-up have not been happy for the winner," Kelly dished to ABC Audio. "And I'm going to get it out of him what season that is and I'll pass it on to you!"
The American Idol finale airs Sunday night on ABC. On Monday, go to KellyandRyan.com to vote in the American Idol Encore poll.