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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper and Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET and Wednesdays at 8:30p ET on FOX

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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

May 25/26 - The Final Showdown

Tomorrow, "A Moment Like This" will occur for either Diana DeGarmo or Fantasia Barrino, where one will shout that "This Is the Night" and start "Flying Without Wings".

But first, they must survive the public vote tonight, as we go live to Kodak Theatre for the finale... of "American Idol"! And helping me out tonight, another good friend of the site, Tom Heald. Yay, Tom.

But first, here are our two she-devils of pop music, complete with C2 logo. Mmm.... C2. Sounds explosive. Anyway, if you remember last week's loser Jasmine flipped a coin, and as a result, Fantasia is going to let Diana set it offfff. Each Idol gets two songs of their choosing and the single written by... Tamyra Gray (whose CD just dropped today. I had to look for mine amongst the stacks. Anyway...). We go from Snellville to Hawaii to LA. Why she went all the way to Hawaii, I don't know, but that's not important right now. Right now, she's singing the single, "I Believe", written for this show by Tamyra. Diana is off it first, wtih gospel choir in tow. She's flat at first, but once she hits the hook, it's not bad. Then it goes into the gospel according to Hilary Duff again. Annoying, but less so than previous round. She definitely feels the performance, but it looks like she's trying to convince the crowd of that. That's going to cost her in the end.

And speaking of the end, NO MORE WARBLING! That is law from now on, missy.

And she channels Charo. How lovely.

Randy: You know what? I was talking about something to someone named Cowell, and I mentioned how hard it was to sing all those big songs. But you know what? You worked it out tonight, dude. Very good.
Paula: I gotta tell you. I feel like a proud parent watching little Diana growing into adult Diana. You've lifted everyone's spirit, and you made that song soar.
Simon: You sang it really really well. My only problem is that you're singing about 100,000 dreams, and you've climbed mountains and you've swam lakes. You're only 16! My only slight problem.

And Simon, I checked. Yes there are mountains in Georgia. You stupid, stupid ass.

Next, Fantasia journeys from High Point to Atlanta to Hollywood via Riskyville (every competition needs a Fantasia, Simon says), where she's singing "All My Life". And it amazingly sounds, as Tom Heald put it, like Burt Bacharach. Give her an A for effort and the arrangement an F minus minus (bonus points to anyone who can tell me where that came). Still, you sing a rocky arrangement, you get rocky results. And that's real, no matter how many trills you dress it up with.

Randy: I love that song. I did not like that musical arrangement. But you still made something out of it, because it was kinda lackluster. You still retained your talent.
Paula: This is where you stand out as a performer, because you take a mediocre arrangement, grab the audience in a chokehold, and you say "Listen up!"
Simon: I think you're very lucky that you're singing more than one song this evening, because I honestly thought it was a complete mess.

But it was an organized mess at least. Give this one to Diana. And speaking of which, she's chosen "No More Tears" for round 2. And there's "C'mon, y'all!". It's an infectious and loud as before. I can see where she made some improvements, but at the same time, I can see where she's fouling up where she doesn't need to foul up. But she's a showwoman, at least. If you don't have that, what do you have?

Randy: You really came to win this tonight! You sang your face off.
Paula: Ditto.
Simon: You sang it really well. I thought the dancing was hideous, but I agree with Randy. You've come to win.

She has. And we have a note from Tom here... "Diana, lay off the body glitter ... When it sparkles on your chin it looks like you need the Venus razor." *watches back* That... is scary. Next up, Fantasia wows us with "Summertime." One of her better performances last time out. And she fails to disappoint this time. Superbly done.

Randy: The show just began. Fantasia's back. That's like the master class of singing!
Paula: You've showed another talent of a true audience by commanding the audience.
Simon: This show is seen in over 30 countries around the world. We've had with repeats about 70 winners. You are, without doubt, the best contestant we've had in any competition.
Randy: I agree.

Me, too. I see big things. Even, you know, if she doesn't win. Fantasia gets this round. Diana steps out with "Don't Cry Out Loud". Tom's view: "An awful song. not improved upon by Di. Pitchy.... on the final show, and during her performance, Diana cried out loud. Think about all the songs you've heard tonight, does Diana deserve your vote? Hell no."

Wow. Have to echo that sentiment. Heard it better last week. Judges?

Randy: A little weak in the beginning. Somewhere in the middle of that song, you fell apart. Something happened. I don't know what.
Paula: Must be surreal. It just... something happened. The melody changed. You're still wonderful.
Simon: When you do something earlier in the competition brilliantly, keep it at that, because the last time you sang that song, it was sensational. My feeling is that you had one last chance to nail this competition... and I don't think you did.

Agreed. No A game... One more song here, and it's Fantasia with "I Believe". I think Tamyra had Fantasia in mind when she wrote this, because she's owning it more so than Diana did. The only concern I have is that she's over-churching it. Nothing against her, but I think she's taking the choir in the background to task. And she had to reach for that one note before hitting it. But yeah, you believe. And I believe as well. I believe that you've just sealed Diana's fate...

Randy: Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!
Paula: The stage is yours! It's your night, my dear.
Simon: Fantasia, that was your acceptance speech. Congratulations!

It's not set in stone. She has to get the votes. And you know, after the first round, I was thinking that maybe Diana would've sealed it with the whole chaos, but I think that the last two performances blew it out of the water. I honestly do. Paul Anka sends us out with his own spin on "My Way". All three (yes, even Simon) give him a standing O. Now. Time to break it down. We've had ups and downs from both performers. Fantasia has been nothing short of amazingly consistent, going from strength to strength. Diana rose from nothing to become a polished performer, but it fell apart tonight where she needed it the most. And remember Simon's words from season 1: "You are only as good as your last performance." That said... it's time to go around the horn to whoever's online...

Chico Alexander Fantasia Fantasia
Quisla Alexander Diana Fantasia
Gordon Pepper Fantasia Diana
Chris Lambert Fantasia Fantasia
Tom Heald Fantasia Fantasia

That's only what we think. Remember, you control the outcome. You have three lines for each Idol and a text message vote. And you have four hours. There is NO excuse. NONE! We'll see who America idolizes next in 24 hours. Had a blast this year. Can't wait for Idol 4. Take us out, Pepper.

The results show...

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