Taylor Hicks bests Katharine McPhee to win Fox's 'American Idol 5'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/25/2006
In a rather anticlimactic conclusion, American Idol 5 finalist and widely-perceived finale favorite Taylor Hicks defeated Katharine McPhee during Wednesday night's live two-hour finale of the fifth season of the smash-hit Fox reality talent competition
As American Idol's 2006 winner, Taylor, a 29-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, joins Idol 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard, Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, and Idol 4 winner Carrie Underwood as the winner of a management contract with Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Management and a recording contract with a division of the BMG Music Group that's headed by industry legend Clive Davis.
Once again using the usual dragged-out two-hour finale format the viewers have come to expect from the popular series, American Idol's fifth season finale featured an array of live individual, duet, and group performances from not only Taylor, Katharine, and the rest of this season's Top 12 finalists, but also numerous other well known music artists. In addition to Underwood and Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken, non-Idol alumni Prince, Burt Bacharach, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau, Live, Meat Loaf and Dionne Warwick all performed during the finale.
After performing Barry Manilow's "I Made It Through the Rain" with Taylor and Katharine during the show's opening, Underwood also performed "Don't Forget to Remember Me," one of her own debut album's singles, later in the finale broadcast. Jarreau performed "This Love Together" with Paris Bennett, who finished fifth in this season's competition. Live performed "Lightening Crashes" with Chris Daughtry, who prior to his surprising elimination in the show's Final 4 results show, had widely been considered to be, along with Taylor, the co-favorite to win the competition. Meat Loaf, performing with Katharine, sang "It's All Coming Back To Me Now."
Blige performed U2's "One" with Elliott Yamin, who was eliminated in last week's results show that revealed Taylor and Katharine were the season's final two finalists. Braxton, performing with Katharine, sang "In The Ghetto." Aiken -- appearing nearly unrecognizable in an unflattering new haircut -- performed Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" in a strange duet with Michael Sandecki, an Idol 5 open audition contestant and Aiken lookalike who appeared on stage to claim a faux "Golden Idol Award" for "Best Impersonation." Bacharach accompanied all twelve of this season's finalists on the piano as they performed a lengthy medley of some of his best known songs. Warwick closed Bacharach's appearance with a medley of "Walk On By" and "That's What Friends Are For."
Appearing with only his own backup singers, Prince -- who had been rumored to be one of this season's earlier guest performers -- performed "Lolita" and "Satisfied," two songs from his new "3121" album, in a special "surprise" appearance that occurred only moments before American Idol host Ryan Seacrest capped the finale broadcast by finally revealing the season's winner.
"Soul Patrolllll," Taylor shouted when Seacrest asked him for his post-victory thoughts. "Thank you so much, this is a dream come true, I'm so, so, so thrilled to be here," added Katharine.
"It's an exhilarating feeling, I am flabbergasted," a more composed Taylor told the media after his win. "I can't believe I'm the next American Idol."
Taylor and Katharine, who each also received brand-new Ford Mustangs during the finale, will both be part of this summer's American Idol concert tour that will feature the season's Top 10 finalists.
Taylor and Katharine had each performed three songs during the final Tuesday night performance show that proceeded Wednesday night's crowning of Idol's fifth season winner. In addition to "Living for the City" and "Levon," Taylor had performed "Do I Make You Proud," a new ballad that while mostly panned by critics, is expected to be released as the Idol winner's first single. Katharine had performed "Over the Rainbow," "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," and "My Destiny," another widely-panned new song that is expected to be released as Katharine's first single. Although she didn't win the competition, both Katharine and Taylor are expected to receive BMG Music Group recording contracts and release debut albums later this year.
Following Taylor's third and final Tuesday performance, Idol judge Simon Cowell -- who had previously predicted the Taylor and Chris would be the season's Final 2 finalists -- declared that Taylor had won the competition. "Assuming that I was right and the show was tied [after the first two performance rounds], then you have just won American Idol." By the time of Wednesday's finale broadcast, most observers -- and all three of Idol's judges -- considered Taylor (who unlike Katharine, had never finished in one of the show's bottom vote-getters groupings) an overwhelming favorite to win the competition.
After Tuesday night's final performance show, Idol viewers cast 64.3 million votes for Taylor and Katharine -- an all-time American Idol record. Over the course of the entire season, viewers also cast a record-setting 580 million votes in support of their favorite contestants. A worldwide audience of about 200 million viewers is estimated to have watched Idol's fifth season finale.