Wade on Birmingham

Just for Hicks: Dueling duo


katharine mcphee and taylor hicksMcPheever vs. the Soul Patrol. It’s the final showdown on “American Idol,” with Birmingham’s Taylor Hicks against Los Angeles’ Katharine McPhee. Each picked two favorites from earlier rounds, then sang new singles. Who won the hearts and minds of the audience in the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood … and more importantly, the audience across America?

Recap after the jump …

Updated with audio, video.

Round 1

Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks

Katharine’s song: “Black Horse and Cherry Tree” by K.T. Tunstall

  • Randy: “You finally looked like you were having a little fun with that song. You sang it better than the first time.”
  • Paula: “A fun way to open it. I know there’s better of you in songs to come.”
  • Simon: “I’ll give that good with a small ‘G.’ That’s what I call a warmup.”
  • Our take: So-so, not the kind of performance that sets the fans on fire. (We were moderately impressed the first time.)

Taylor’s song: “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder

  • Randy: “You always make it your own. That’s a hot one right there.”
  • Paula: “Everybody got that dance down. Way to go.”
  • Simon: “(joking) This audience hated you. … It was a great way to start the show, smart choice of song. The worst jacket I’ve ever seen in my life. Round 1 to you.”
  • Our take: We’ve said before that this song was one of his strongest performances. What a ballsy terrific performance, a real crowd pleaser.

Round 2

Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks

Katharine’s song: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland

  • Randy: “You worked it out again. That was hot.”
  • Paula: “It’s God-given talent that you are possessed with. You’ve made everyone proud. Congratulations, you own it up there.”
  • Simon: “Round 1, you just got slaughtered. I truly believe this was your best performance of the competition so far.”
  • Our take: Enchanting, her moment to shine again. As before, it’s the one that makes her a star.

Taylor’s song: “Levon” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

  • Randy: “Nice song, but it was a little pitchy for me this time.”
  • Paula: “He’s just getting into the song. That is who he is.”
  • Simon: “Probably not as popular as the first song. Katharine has taken the second round, and it’s all to play for (tied up).”
  • Our take: Good enough, but not as powerful as the first song. And as before, it was just good enough to get by.

Round 3

Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks

Katharine’s song: “My Destiny” by Hanne Sorvaag

  • Randy: “You sounded really good. I did not love the song.”
  • Paula: “You are brilliant.”
  • Simon: “You went from brilliant to quite good within one song. You are a great, great potential artist.”
  • Our take: Empowering lyrics? Check. Soaring vocals? Check. Gospel choir? Check. Standard “Idol” fare made moderately more interesting by McPhee. Not great, but very good.

Taylor’s song: “Do I Make You Proud” by Tracy Ackerman, Andrew John Watkins and Paul David Wilson

  • Randy: “You know who Taylor Hicks, and you know how to make it into a Taylor Hicks song. Beautiful.”
  • Paula: “You were better than the song. Because you know who you are as an artist, all the nuances of Taylor Hicks exist in that song no matter what.”
  • Simon: “You have just won ‘American Idol.’ “
  • Our take: Started out slow, ended up strong, moving. Yes, another tepid “Idol”-style single, but Hicks’ rendition makes it a hit.

Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks

Katharine says: “It’s just crazy to think about, all these years I’ve always always been dreaming about doing this.”

Taylor says: “My brother said you need to go try out for ‘American Idol,’ and here I stand in front of America. Thank you, all, thank you.”

Idol thoughts: Not a knockout punch, but definitely a strong showing for Hicks. He moves and sings with confidence and a presence. McPhee has the skills and the voice, but she still needs more experience and training to reach his level. We’ll be surprised if Hicks doesn’t score a second title for Birmingham.

Voting closes at midnight tonight. The winner will be announced during the two-hour Wednesday finale, starting at 7.

Look for complete wrapup coverage on Wade on Birmingham.

Update: From Rickey.org, hear McPhee perform “Black Horse and Cherry Tree,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “My Destiny,” and hear Hicks perform “Living for the City,” “Levon” and “Do I Make You Proud.”

See Hicks perform “Living for the City.”

See Hicks perform “Levon.”

See Hicks perform “Do I Make You Proud.”

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This week’s roundup

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Read more on Taylor Hicks.

1 Yip for “Just for Hicks: Dueling duo”

  1. Frenchprincess
    Saturday, June 17, 2006, 10:58 pm

    I have only tuned into the American idol programs off and on. But this year as soon as My husband and i seen Taylor on the auditions we knew he would be the next idol. We are very proud of you. Keep up the good work and let your voice be heard
    Always listening

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