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Published: 5/25/2006

America picks Hicks as 'Idol'

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Runner-up Katharine McPhee and winner Taylor Hicks. Runner-up Katharine McPhee and winner Taylor Hicks.
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The "Soul Patrol" has cooled down the "McPheever" outbreak after voters chose Taylor Hicks as their next American Idol.

The silver fox of soul took home the title last night after Tuesday night's votes tipped in his favor over runner-up Katharine McPhee, the 21-year-old beauty from Los Angeles.

After host Ryan Seacrest told him he was the next American Idol, Hicks only said four words as a tribute to his fan club: "Soul Patrol! Soul Patrol!"

Then he performed what will be his debut single, "Do I Make You Proud."

Hicks of Birmingham, Ala., won over America after 63.4 million votes were cast, which Seacrest said was more votes than any U.S. president has ever received.

His new title throws back words into critical Judge Simon Cowell's mouth.

"We should remind America that Simon passed on Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas," Seacrest said of the audition rounds. Cowell has since said he was wrong in his assessment of Hicks.

America's decision was announced during last night's two-hour season finale jam-packed with performances from artists such as Meat Loaf, Mary J. Blige, Prince, Idol runner-up Clay Aiken, and last year's American Idol Carrie Underwood. Seacrest said officials estimated that the show was being broadcast to more than 200 million people worldwide.

Before last night's finale, the two finalists went head-to-head on Tuesday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in front of a live audience of more than 3,000 people. Each had three chances to convince America that they were American Idol material, then voters had four hours to call one of three lines to vote for their favorite.

The judges were most impressed with Hicks' first song, "Living for the City."

"You know what I love about you, dude?" asked Judge Randy Jackson. "I was worried, you picking Stevie Wonder, but you don't care who sings it cause you always make it your own."

Judges said his second song "Levon," was not as strong but liked what will be his first single, "Do I Make You Proud."

"You know who Taylor Hicks is, and no matter what the song is, you know how to make it into a Taylor Hicks song," Jackson said.

McPhee's first two choices were reprises of songs she has sung on other episodes. Out of the two, the judges liked "Over the Rainbow" better than her version of "Black Horse and Cherry Tree."

"I truly believe this was your best performance of the competition," Cowell said.

Though judges were not crazy about McPhee's debut single, "My Destiny," they reiterated that they knew she had a voice.

"You are a great, great potential artist, Kat, and I'm delighted that you're in this final," Cowell said.

After Hicks was declared the winner, McPhee thanked those who voted for her, saying her experience "was a dream come true."



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