Fantasia Barrino is Fox's American Idol

MUMBAI: Fox TV's biggest hit and one of the hottest shows in the US, American Idol -- the nationwide television search for the nation's next pop star -- has found their idol of the year!

19-year-old Fantasia Barrino, a black single mom from North Carolin, won the hit reality TV show. Barrino's style, which ranged from tender to earthy, moved the three-judge panel to tears and captivated audiences.

Barrino got the better of rival Diana DeGarmo to win a recording contract and instant stardom. The victory was revenge of sorts for Barrino who had suffered narrow losses twice as the audience went in favor of cuter but weaker singers. The winner of American Idol is decided on the basis of votes cast by the audience through telephone and the ratings given by a three-judge panel.

First runner-up DeGarmo, 16, a Georgia schoolgirl, was the youngest contestant to reach an idol final. But she suffered uncharacteristic pitch problems in the Tuesday night finale before a live audience at Hollywood's Kodak Theater. She is also expected to secure video recording contracts.

Star's Indian music channel Channel [V] has also successfully experimented the genre of reality TV show through two pop stars hunts they conducted - VIVA in 2002 and Aasma in 2003. The hunt for 2004 is yet to be announced.

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