HOLLYWOOD – The Soul Patrol is singing loud and proud across America.
The safe money's on Taylor Hicks after Tuesday night's "American Idol" finale.
"If it was tied up until this point, you are the winner," said judge Simon Cowell after Taylor performed his "AI" single, "Do I Make You Proud?"
Indeed, he does, but it wasn't all the blues for L.A.'s own Katharine McPhee either.
The 22-year-old shined once again in her stunning rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." From the arrangement to the key to the choreography, big ballads with a musical twist will be her ticket to fame, with or without the title.
Sitting in the Kodak Theater during the show is a completely different experience than watching it from home. Here, Taylor's voice booms and fills the space, while Katharine's seems a little pushed, and it's easier from the cheap seats to see why Simon, Randy and Paula have been hard on the talented beauty.
And even though Simon, Randy and Paula are the stars of the show, Ryan Seacrest does all the heavy lifting like you wouldn't believe. Off-camera the guy owns the stage, and it's clear that he was born to do this kind of work.
Forty million people watching? No big deal — and it's actually inspiring to watch.
Then again, Seacrest isn't being voted on. It was Taylor's title to lose tonight, and that he didn't.
While his second song, "Levon," was limp, Taylor came out and simply rocked the house with his first performance, the Stevie Wonder hit "Living for the City."
"I had to get the house rocking, that's kind of my gig," he told me after the show. "I thought it was a good night for me. Hopefully America will vote for me."
Randy Jackson called it "Round one Taylor, round two Katharine and round three Taylor."
Clearly McPhee needed to deliver a knockout blow in round three, but her "AI" single had the audience shaking their heads.
"My Destiny" fell flat as soon as it left the stage, taking with it, most likely, McPhee's chances of winning this competition.
After the show, Simon said about the song: "It did her an injustice. You can't follow the greatest song ever written with that song," he said. Randy agreed. "She was better than that song," he said.
"I'm so peaceful with whatever happens," Katharine told me in her first interview after the show. "Just being at the Kodak Theater was a dream come true," she said.
But did she like her single?
"I do like it but I had a hard time," she said. "I've been losing my voice this week."
Sadly for McPhee, her voice won't be the only thing she loses this week, but there will be long career for her anyway, somewhere over the rainbow.
Click over for more coverage of the "American Idol" finale from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles at www.foxnews.com/foxlife/americanidol/index.html
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