After 15 seasons, “American Idol” is about to close up shop and fade away from the television landscape.

Ratings have slip-slided away, audience numbers have dropped, wannabe contestant entries have fallen … it was time to go.

So what was the allure that made this show the most-watched TV production through more sweeps weeks than any show in history?

It was kids like 21-year old Avalon Young. Not too long ago she was tending to her pet hamsters and guinea pigs in her Tierrasanta (suburb of San Diego) home. She was playing on the varsity lacrosse team at Serra High (“We had a good team,” she said). She was immersing herself in her own style of music (“My folks weren’t into music all that much”). And she was working as a server at an Applebee’s restaurant in Mira Mesa.

Did she ever try to hone her talent with an impromptu song or two in front of a customer or a busboy?

“No,” she admitted with a chuckle during a phone interview from Hollywood Wednesday morning.

She was one day away from learning if her Idol journey will continue or if she will join the approximately 75,000 others who have already been eliminated. The Idol finalists were cut to a Top 10 last week and Thursday night two more will be outed by vote of the viewing public.

“Of course I’d like to win,” Young said, “But getting to the Top 10 was a goal. No matter what happens I am just hoping that I have done enough to have caught the attention of someone and they notice me.”

Regardless of Thursday’s vote Avalon (she was named after the song and has some of its lyrics tattooed on her right arm) has performed well beyond any past gig. “I think before this I sang in front of 100 or 200 people in San Diego once,” she admitted.

Following some past performances she drew high-praise from the judges (Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.). But last week not so much, although guest judge Kelly Clarkson was ebullient with praise. “That was awesome to hear,” Young said.

How far can she go in the competition? That’s anybody’s guess now, but just a quick scan of some on-line comments via YouTube indicate she is developing a loyal following already:

-“Avalon is dope. Probably the only legit hip hop style artist AI has ever had. She’s smooth and love her swagger.”

-“I absolutely love her style , swagg girl, Neyo’s girl.”

-“She needs to go through, she´s fresh and she´s ready!”

-“EXCUSE ME MISS! WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? WOW! Girl you just came up out of no where and shocked me holy crap. You might be one of my new favorites now. Love your style and how you’re simple and true to who you really are.”

The show continues until April 7 (8-10p.m.) when the final and 15th “American Idol” will be crowned and Idol pays tribute to the past 15 seasons.

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