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American Idol
Season 4
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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.

Is your favorite still in the running? Check out the Idol Set List!

Recaps by Chico Alexander & Gordon Pepper, GSNN


FACT FILE:

Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm ET and Wednesdays at 9pm ET on Fox


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"The Final Showdown: Inside Your Heaven" - May 24-25

Welcome to the big time.

It's the moment you've waited five long months for. In 26 hours, America will have her new Idol, either Bo Bice or Carrie Underwood. Will it be the rocker from the Alabama? Will it be the farm girl from Oklahoma? Rocker? Farm girl? Alabama? Oklahoma? Bueller?

Here is how the final will go down. It's man vs. woman. Last time this happened, Justin Guarini lost to Kelly Clarkson, 58 to 42. Three rounds. One will be their favorite from the season. The other two: the winner's singles.

We go first... to the coin toss. Bo is... heads. Carrie is... also heads. See the faces of the contesti are on the coins, so as to make it that much easier. Whoever lands face up will choose who goes first. And the result is... through the grates on stage. OUCH. The three are literally tearing the stage apart looking for that blasted coin. Take two, off to the side at the interview area and... it's Carrie with the honor. She wants to go second. Which means that Bo... you're up first, my friend.

His first song, his single #1, "The Long Long Road".

What they say: Randy says "yo" and "check it out" more times than he should at this point. Dude, we know you're cool, just get to the point. "I have bad news and good news. Bad news: I did not love that song. Weird song, but here's the great news. It don't matter what you sing, even though you started a little shaky, you still brought it home in the end." Paula says "It's really hard to sing a song that nobody knows, but I get the chills seeing everybody vibing with you on that song. That is the mark of a true performer." Simon says that it's probably the closest final we've had. "You look like my chemistry teacher. It was a very dreary song. You're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that to walk away with this title."

What we say: Bo pulls out every trick he used this season to get to this point. We have the mic hold, the shades, the tunic, the raspy soulful tone. It started out of range, I'll admit it. But the note that shook the heavens caps it off. This would be an ideal song for Bo to record, not so much perform. But still, please say you're saving your best for last.

What Bo says: "Give me something to sing and I'll go for it."

Now to Carrie's first number, her single #1, "Inside Your Heaven."

What they say: Randy is wondering why the singers are relegated to the background, while the choir gets the props. "I didn't like that song, either." Carrie didn't connect, but did "brought it home." Paula thought she sang it beautifully. "You had a couple of not-so-great notes, but who in the heck cares?" Simon sees Carrie's nerves. He likes THIS song better, but says that her vocal was "right on the edge", counting round 1 to her. Of course he would.

What we say: On the edge... of the Nullarbor... If you missed last week's recap, the Nullarbor is a big expanse of nothingness in Australia where no one can hear you. Good voice and scared-stiff stage presence to start. We go from good to pitchy fast. And Will you stop fidgeting with your hair? And what's up with the weird voice right before the power note? I don't get it. Ironically, the most movement comes with a wave to the audience AFTER the performance.

What Carrie says: "I really don't think I can describe this. It is incredible. Awesome, awesome!"

I'm willing to pull a Randy Jackson (because apparently I'm the Dawg to Gordon's black-shirted Haterade) and call a push in round 1, simply because both songs sucked. And both singers did the best they could with what they had.

Now to round 2: best of season 4. From the week where Paula called that Bo was going to be in the final, 70s Week, it's "Vehicle".

What they say: Randy says, "That's what I'm talking about. Now I'm happy." Paula, "That's the true authentic Bo we all know and love." Simon, "Welcome back. Now we've got ourselves a competition."

What we say: This was WAY better than the first time around, and that's saying a lot, because he basically proved why he's there with that performance. He's a showman. Simple. This is what Bo should be doing, and will be doing, I think.

Meanwhile, Ryan takes a moment to remind us (although I think Bo did it just now) that Bo and Carrie are up there... and the rest of the Idols... are down there. Lindsey's just sheepish, knowing that she can look forward to a summer of just chilling back and playing PSP all day. Even the show logo gives her no love. Just the perks of being the first one eliminated. Heh.. yeah...

Going back to the competition now, and going back to the 90s with Carrie's rendition of "Independence Day".

What they say: Randy welcomes Carrie back to the competition. Paula calls it brilliant. Simon thought she should've sang "Crying." He scores this one for Bo.

What we say: Back to her security blanket. She makes no secret that she's good at country. We all know that. And this was one of her better songs throughout the series. And she pretty much goes from strength to strength on this one. And it's good to see her loosen up with this. But I was looking forward to her injecting something like that to something that... you know... wasn't country?

Round 2.... Both were pretty strong... I have to give this another push, SO... Round three will decide it for me. This time, Bo takes on "Inside Your Heaven". Carrie got her supporters cheering on this one, but can Bo do the same?

What they say: Randy said "You made me love the song." Paula fell in love with the song. Simon notes that Carrie was just outsung. "For us, it has been a pleasure having you this year on American Idol."

What we say: This is incredibly tough. Bo takes nothing and turns it into something, extrapolating it like crazy and doing it justice. Good news: Bo took Carrie's pass, and ran it in for the TD. Bad news: remember the last guy who did that? All in all, Bo is coming out punching with this performance. Scores better than Carrie's. Infinitely better, and he can actually move with the beat and the audience. If Carrie's your singer, then he is your performer.

And finally, the moment that was inevitable. If you, like me, followed the various incarnations of "Pop Idol" the world over, the last song should be VERY familiar. Carrie wraps up with her second original single, a cover of Guy Sebastian's "Angels Brought Me Here". If you recall, the first-season "Australian Idol" performed that song last year in the round of three. And I love the hell out of it. Carrie, I swear to God if you mess this up... *fist shakey*

What they say: Randy gives her the dawg standing O. Paula calls her journey "a lifetime of achievements." Simon, "You have a lot of guts. Again, I felt your emotion. I think you've done enough to win this competition."

What we say: You know something... Simon said the same thing about Clay Aiken. And he came in second. Some people say this is too close to call. I say, "Bring back Guy Sebastian." He wasn't flat, he controlled the breathing, and he didn't sound like a Faith Hill reject. Ironically, she saved her best for last. All personal ribbing aside, she just might have made her case with that one. Not saying it was good, but it was her best. And personally, I thought Will Young's "Anything Is Possible" was going to be the first one to cross international waters.

Round three... goes to Bo. So that's my favorite (as if you didn't know already). But like last year, time to go around the board...

Quisla (sister): Should win, Bo. Will win, Bo.
Travis (cohort): Both deserve to win. This was the first real final.
Tom Heald (TVBarn.com): Bo should. Carrie will.
Me: Should/will win: Bo. But I want to ask the audience.

AOL: 61% in favor of.

Okay, just making sure.

Well, that's basically it for me. I've had fun. Hope you had, too. One final note from me; Ryan has your north-of-the-border Idol fix this summer. Tomorrow night: Carrie sings with Rascal Flatts, while Bo sings with .. his mic stand. Both should be a hoot and a half. And while we look back on the season, we look forward in anticipation... Simon finishes with the phrase, which has been a cornerstone, this season especially... "It's about being an original. Don't compromise."

What they say: Randy calls it the best season ever. Paula agrees. Simon, "I'd like to thank America for listening to me this year. Thanks, America."

What we say: Bottom line, and I say this every year. Many are called, few are chosen, the best are given the stage, but in the end, there can only be one American Idol...

And America... you've waited long enough. Go vote, don't mess up, Gordon, take us home! Until next year, remember the Idol credo... "Dare to dream." Alexander... out! Pepper and Rojas... on.

The Results.... after the break.

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