America picks country girl Carrie Underwood its 'Idol'

MUMBAI: America's sweetheart. That could well describe Carrie Underwood, a small town country girl from Checotah, Oklahoma, who on Wednesday was crowned the fourth American Idol.

And there were not too many that were surprised when the winner was announced following Tuesday's season finale that pitted Underwood against long-haired Southern rocker Bo Bice, 29, of Helena, Alabama.

There was also another reason that the 22-year-old student's win was historic --- Underwood is the first country singer to win American Idol.


According to media reports, both contestants choked during their first time on-stage in front of 3,000 audience at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The newly crowned Idol also walked away from the show with a record contract. Underwood will release her first single Inside Your Heaven on 14 June. She will form part of an American Idol group that includes Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino.

Runner-up Bice is also unlikely to have any worries on that score. No less a mortal than Clive Davis, chairman and CEO of BMG International, was quoted last week as saying "they?d (as in BMG and Bice) have a great time making a record together."


The two-hour live finale episode showcased both Underwood and Bice being presented with new red Ford mustangs from one of the show's biggest sponsors and video clips from both finalists' hometowns were shown, as well as montages of their Idol journeys.

Underwood and Bice were the final two of more than 100,000 Idol hopefuls who auditioned for the show last summer. Over the course of the season, more than 500 million votes were cast for contestants.

The race for the next Idol, the American Idol Season 5 auditions kick off soon. And the auditions will be taking place in Austin, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Boston.

This finale week caps a strong year in the ratings. Tuesday's performance finale attracted 28.1 million viewers, 3 million more than the same show last season. For the season, Idol is up 5 per cent in viewers and 4 per cent among young adults, vaulting Fox to its first full-season win among ages 18 to 49.

One media report perfectly summed up the story thus: "The country girl with heart beat the Southern rocker with soul."

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