He impressed the judges with a series of rousing performances on Wednesday evening, but has humble country singer Tate Stevens got what it takes to win series two of The X Factor USA?
Tate enjoyed his most consistent performances of the season during the final live performance show on Wednesday (Dec' 19), which saw him go head to head with girl group Fifth Harmony and youngster Carly Rose Sonenclar.
Ahead of the live results show on Thursday evening, Tate reaffirmed his belief that country music can represent the X Factor as well as the more conventional R&B and pop.
“You have to think that country music is still one of the biggest selling music genres going,” he told reporters. “(Country music fans) still go to concerts. They still go buy real CDs. They still go to the store and get the little plastic discs. So, I definitely think that country music is ready (to win The X Factor).”
In the weeks leading up to the show finale Tate has consistently dominated the number one spot in viewer rankings – making him an unlikely frontrunner to claim The X Factor crown – and according to show supremo Simon Cowell much of his success is down to mentor LA Reid.
“Where (LA) was smart was that he let Tate make a lot of his own decisions,” Cowell said after Wednesday's show. “He sounded authentic. And again tonight, a lot of people in his position would have chosen better known songs, bit more schmaltzy and done a cover version, but he chose authentic country songs and he stayed true to his roots, which I think is going to do him awful lot of good long term. I could see this guy selling a lot of records.”
Along with Carly Rose and Fifth Harmony, Tate performed three songs during the final live show, opting for covers of Randy Houser's 'Anything Goes' and Chris Martin's 'Tomorrow.' He also duetted on a version of 'Pontoon' with country music group Little Big Town.
While Tate recieved praise from judges Cowell, Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, rival Carly Rose endured a nightmare duet with LeAnn Rimes. Their performance of 'How Do I Live?' got off to a bad start with LeAnn appearing to sing ahead of the teenager.
Despite the setback mentor Britney praised Carly for a 'shockingly amazing' performance.
Elsewhere the Simon Cowell mentored Fifth Harmony got a thumbs up for their duet with Demi.
The winner of this year's X Factor crown will be awarded a lucrative recording contract and a cash prize of $5 million.