Despite his talent, the Season 2 winner isn't guaranteed a mainstream music spot. (Image via Headline Planet)
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Despite his talent, the Season 2 winner isn't guaranteed a mainstream music spot. (Image via Headline Planet)

But will his new deal with Republic Records be enough for him to become a mainstream artist?

After an electrifying and talent-packed finale, James Graham emerged victorious as the Season 2 champion of “The Four.” The 21-year-old singer from across the pond chose to perform “Fix You” by Coldplay as his final song to win it all, a culmination of the incredible vocal prowess and passion he demonstrated throughout the season.

Ethereal green and blue strobe lights emanated across the stage as he belted his signature, powerful high notes, evoking genuine emotions from everyone in the room. Graham chose the perfect song and arrangement for his final moments as a competitor, reeling in the audience and judges to secure his victory.

Winning “The Four” is no small accomplishment. Unlike other shows, the high-risk, win-or-go-home structure of the competition leaves little room for mistakes.

Artists must remain consistently at the peak of their game, perpetually ready to battle unknown competitors to hold their seat in the elite “Four.”

Musical talents have to capture the attention of the audience, as well as the judging panel, which consists of the distinguished Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The cutthroat nature of the vocal competition makes Graham’s victory all the more remarkable, as he was up against some vocalists with immense amounts of undeniable talent.

Female rapper Sharaya J, who achieved second place, was definitely a fan favorite of the season. Her infectious personality and lyrical mastery always left audiences cheering and on their feet.

She embodied the spice and energetic quality of female rap artists from the ’90s and early 2000s, and no challenger was ever able to steal her place in “the Four” throughout the vast duration of the season, which was an exceptional feat in itself.

The strong, cancer survivor with an impressive ability to maintain her flow may not have come out at the top; however, many view her as being tied for first place.

But back to Graham. He undoubtedly has one of the most exceptional voices I have ever heard. His soul and passion add fire to everything he sings, and combined with his massive vocal range, Graham makes for an unstoppable singer.

Fans have seen his potential from day one, when he established his unbeatable presence on “The Four” with his cover of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.”

Then, 17-year-old Leah Jenea came along and mesmerized the entire audience with her exotic tone, captivating the crowd enough to dethrone the previously invincible Graham (but he won a seat back in the comeback episode).

Last night, Graham avenged his loss when he outsang Jenea for a spot in the final two of “The Four.” Having become the winner of the entire competition, Graham gained an automatic record deal with Republic Records and the title of iHeartRadio’s “On the Verge Artist.”

Winning first place in a vocal competition is a huge deal, but unfortunately, winners of singing shows do not always achieve mainstream popularity.

Vocal ability will only get someone so far — the rest is a combination of song quality and the voice the music industry is seeking out at the time.

Graham will release some exceptional music — I foresee a love ballad reminiscent of James Arthur and Nathan Sykes in the near future — but will it find its way into pop radio? There are so many other singers in his niche that I’m not completely certain.

If I had to ascertain which artist from “The Four” would be most likely to make it into the mainstream of a genre, it would be the only person who was able to topple Graham’s reign: Jenea.

She would be the Zhavia Ward of the season —  the contestant who doesn’t emerge as the champion but is so cherished by fans and marketable in today’s music industry that she scores a record deal regardless.

The music industry is currently thriving off artists that embody the alternative R&B style that Jenea has perfected, and she will fit right in. It’s just a matter of time before everyone is listening to a Jenea single on R&B radio.

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Maya Ramani

University of Virginia

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