The one person who might be in the best position to judge who will be the next "American Idol" isn't even hazarding a guess.
"This competition could go any way," said Syesha Mercado, who was voted off this week and finished third on the hit Fox show. "I just wish them both the best of luck."
By "them," of course, she means Utahn David Archuleta and David Cook, the last two aspiring Idols left standing. The Davids will perform Tuesday; they'll learn whom viewers have voted for on Wednesday.
"It's all about what the voters want," she said in a teleconference with TV critics.
And, sounding a little bit like a football coach, Mercado said the winner will be whoever wants it more.
"I think if you want something, it's going to happen for you... Whoever's the most passionate, they're going to win," she said. "Whichever David is the most passionate, they're going to win."
Mercado, 21, is a fan of both 17-year-old Archuleta and Cook, who's 25. "I feel like I'm a little sister and a big sister to both the Davids," she said. And, as one of the final three contestants, she had a chance to get to know the Davids better and "just have fun kind of that brotherly-sisterly love."
"Of course, they're unique," she said. "David Archuleta has that beautiful smile, and he has that really, really good connection with kids the younger audience."
And, she said, Cook also has a connection with the girls who "go crazy over him" and a somewhat "older audience" by which she meant women in their 20s, as opposed to teens and preteens.
Mercado said that on more than one occasion, fans screaming for David Cook, would say to her, 'Syesha! Syesha! Could you please tap David on the shoulder and get him for me.' I'm like, 'Yeah, sure."'
Of course, she was hoping that she'd be in the final two right up until the end of Tuesday night's show when she pretty much realized that wasn't going to happen.
"After I got done performing, I was, like it's over.... I got too many bad comments from the judges to keep me there," Mercado said. "At this point in the game, you couldn't have that many bad comments."
But she kept a smile on her face and, a few hours later, she seemed entirely upbeat.
"I accepted what was and I moved on. I made peace with it," Mercado said. "And I couldn't be happier right now.
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