Which is the best American Idol finale?

by Anna Johns, posted May 21st 2008 6:06PM
david archuleta; david cook; american idolGoing into last night's finale of American Idol, I was very excited to see the Davids battle each other for the title. It was the first American Idol in a while that did not have an obvious winner at the outset. Even though it really was David Archuleta's night, I still hold out hope that David Cook might pull out a win. He's the one with the most potential and is the better performer. Little Archuleta has that killer voice, though.

Anyway, last night's epic battle got me thinking about past American Idol finales and whether any of them were this much of a contest. It seems like we've gone into most of the American Idol finales with obvious winners. Here's a breakdown of the past American Idol finales, and whether they stack up to last night's performances:

kelly clarkson; justin guariniKelly Clarkson vs. Justin Guarini (2002)- No contest. While Justin was cute and had those curly locks that made pre-teen girls melt into puddles, his vocal "talent" couldn't hold a candle to Kelly. She belted out the American Idol anthem, 'A Moment Like This', and I knew she had won. She sang that (cheesy) song as if it was written for her. She teared up as she sang it because the words, corny as they were, felt true to her at that moment. It was even obvious to Justin that he had not won American Idol. Now... if it had been Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray in the finale, then we'd have had a real contest on our hands. (Doesn't Kelly look so much better now than in that photo?)

clay aiken; ruben studdardRuben Studdard vs. Clay Aiken (2003) - This was a real showdown. Just like last night's finale with the Davids, Ruben and Clay couldn't have been more different from each other. Ruben had a gospel background and the man never, ever missed a note. Never! But Clay was the comeback kid. He started out as a super-nerdy contestant with a shockingly spectacular voice and ended up as only a slightly-nerdy/Barry Manilow-style contestant. It was hard to watch Clay sing because of his corny facial expressions, and perhaps that was what caused him to lose (that, or the fact that the state of Indiana didn't get to vote). This was one of the best showdowns because it was not obvious who would win. Either man would have made a fine American Idol. It came down to 130,000 votes between the two, with Ruben barely on top. There's still controversy over this finale because of alleged technical problems with voting that night. In summary, this was and probably still is the best American Idol finale (unless David Cook pulls out the upset tonight).

fantasia barrino; diana degarmoFantasia Barrino vs. Diana DeGarmo (2004) - Again, no contest. Diana's young energy was no match for Fantasia's unique voice. Fantasia was a young woman who had lived hard: she had been raped, was a high school drop out, and a single mother. And all of that hardship came through in her voice. Diana? She was a cutie. She had a great voice, for sure. But she was a pop princess, and American voters wanted an Idol with a little soul. That finale was worth watching only because Fantasia performed her beautiful version of 'Summertime' again. But the crowning of the winner was no shocker.

bo bice; carrie underwoodCarrie Underwood vs. Bo Bice (2005) - Much like last night, it became obvious during the Season 4 finale which singer was going to be crowned the American Idol. Bo and Carrie were given the usual cheesy/motivational songs that would be their first single. Carrie pulled it off. She can deliver corny lyrics. But, Bo? He was too real, man. He was a dude who battled drug addiction and performed barefoot, and motivational songs were not his cup of tea. Going into the final performance, it seemed the two were on an even playing field, but Carrie was the obvious winner when the night was over.

mcphee; hicksTaylor Hicks vs. Katherine McPhee (2006) - This was when American Idol started to go downhill. Taylor was a weird dude with an original sound. Katherine was a pretty girl with a typical mainstream sound. They both did alright in the finale, each forced to sing terrible original songs that were to be their first singles. This finale came down to personality more than performance. And Katherine McPhee was weaker in the personality category than her jazz-lovin' competition. This finale felt uninspired and the crowning of Taylor seemed empty and predictable.

Jordin Sparks vs. Blake Lewis (2007) - One word: Boring!

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

You always remember your first so the Kelly and Justin finale is my favorite.
It's so great to see the success Kelly has had. She certainly deserves it.

May 23 2008 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What Simon says and what is reality are poles apart. Anyone who quotes Simon's comments isn't paying attention. Clay's facial expressions were totally normal but once Simon made his comment, the sheep just go right along. Watch any of Clay's AI performances and you'll see what I mean. It was Josh Gracin with the weird faces. Simon wanted Ruben to win so he was harsh and not very truthful in his critiques of Clay.

Ruben got a tongue bath every week which he didn't deserve.

May 22 2008 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Your comment about Clay Aiken's facial expressions shows you have no originality, as you seem to be copying Simon.

It seems there is hardly an article written today which mentions Clay Aiken in which the writer does not take a swipe at Clay Aiken.

This is an artist who has an outstanding voice, he literally can sing circles around anyone in the industry today and any male who has since graced the American Idol stage.

He has sold over 7,000,000 units combined full albums and singles, has had eight (possibly) nine successful solo tours over the past five years (with many venues sold out), has established his own charity foundation which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and is a well known UNICEF ambassador.

This Clay Aiken has accomplished all in the short span of five years!

And yet you still feel the need to take swipes at him.

I recommend you give up your day job!

May 22 2008 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mc

Last night's show was the first in a long while that actually had some suspense.

May 22 2008 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of all the performers, I think Blake Lewis suffered the most from having to perform the cheesy motivational finale song. You could see it in his face and the faces of all the judges the minute he finished half-heartedly performing it. It was so unsuited to his style. I felt so bad for the "pain" he was in singing that song that I just wanted to go up and hug him afterwards.

But Jordin, like Carrie, was easily able to handle that type of song. Based on the finale performances alone, there was no contest as to who would win in '07.

May 22 2008 at 5:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sam,thank you,thank you. You took the words out of my mouth. Ruben was the one off key,check him out singing right after he won. Clay never missed a note. Fantasia made up in drama what she lacked in a good voice and that was a lot. If Archuleta wants to become Clay,he'll have to improve his range and develop a personality. Which I think has to come naturally.Stage presence and comfort on stage are just as important as your voice.

May 22 2008 at 3:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i was outside the Nokia theater yesterday right before the big David vs. David showdown -

i do a daily video blog called "Daily Freak Show," and for today's episode we went down to the Nokia theater in downtown LA, and mingled with the insanely astronomically long line of Idol fans hoping to get into the Nokia theater for Tuesday's show.

here's a link to our episode:


the host of the blog is james st. james, who gets some pretty funny reactions and testimonials from fans.

i hope you enjoy! :)

- michael

May 21 2008 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Simon Says

Hey Bash it's me again.

Did you know that the Coronation song that David/David will sing tonight will be from a songwriting contest that american idol said was writen by an "amateur"? They said.... "All of the top 20 2008 songwriting finalist are "AMATEURS". So would someone please, please find one amateur in this bunch, ok? How many will it take till someone admits this is fraud? 1. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Andy Zulla) is an engineer on Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Diana DeGarmo CD's. 2. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Windy Wagner) is a backup singer on the NEW Clay Aiken CD. 3. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Ryan Gillmor) wrote the theme song for the Fox television show "Unhitched". 4. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Dan Yessian) wrote jingles for Ford Motors. 5. Top 20 American Idol Songwriting Finalist (Luke Ebbin) is a producer on Austalian Idol 1st place runner-up Shannon Noll's CD. 6. Top 20 2008 American Idol Songwriting WINNER (Regie Hamm) is a co-writer on the NEW Clay Aiken CD and he's also a co-writer of the WINNER of 2007's American Idol Songwriting Contest Scott Krippayne......Anybody see a pattern yet? 3 of the 2008 American Idol Songwriting Contest Top 20 songwriters get credit on Clay Aiken CD's. Out of thousands and thousands of entries (At $10.00 each) 3 out of 20 work with Mr. Aiken. And nobody has a problem with this? For all the facts please visit....... http://americanidolexposed.weebly.com

May 21 2008 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bo/Carrie was the best finale...hands down. They were both so unique, and both legitimately fantastic that it was very difficult to decide who I liked better.

Neither of them were cheesy...they were two real musicians who were absolutely amazing.

May 21 2008 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One thing you got wrong.... Aiken was the one who never, ever missed a note. Never! Even his fellow contestants acknowledged that point. Studdard was the one who never, ever received one word of criticism from the judges for his mistakes. Never! They were so convinced they could get mega hip-hop dollars from him that they pimped him mercilessly throughout the show, just as they did Fantasia the next year & lil Archie this year. Just a few weeks ago, Studdard was obviously flat throughout a Stevie Wonder song on AI2 REWIND, yet the judges were over the top with praise. Simon blatantly admitted in Newsweek in 2003 that the judges fudged the truth to get the winner they wanted. Talking about the AI2 Top 3 rehearsal, he said, "We've got a problem right now. Kim Locke is performing better than Ruben & we want Ruben in our finale..... so you're not going to get fair comments from the judges, you're just not."

May 21 2008 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners