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AI Season 4

[back to top] Contestants

Finalists
Place Name / Hometown #Ep #Pf. Average Rating Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
1
Underwood CarrieCarrie Underwood
Checotah, OK
14 20
57.1
 
89 25 18.2 0 3 9 6 2
2
Bice BoBo Bice
Helena, AL
14 20
70.9
 
94 36 16.5 0 1 5 4 10
3
Solomon VonzellVonzell Solomon
Fort Myers, FL
13 17
55.6
 
83 29 19.1 0 2 8 6 1
4
Fedorov AnthonyAnthony Fedorov
Trevose, PA
12 14
40.3
 
63 11 18.4 2 5 4 3 0
5
Savol ScottScott Savol
Shaker Heights, OH
11 12
34.0
 
59 11 18.5 4 4 4 0 0
6
Maroulis ConstantineConstantine Maroulis
New York, NY
10 10
51.7
 
90 26 21.9 0 3 3 3 1
7
Robinson AnwarAnwar Robinson
East Orange, NJ
9 9
53.9
 
85 24 19.1 0 2 4 2 1
8
Turner NadiaNadia Turner
Miami, FL
8 8
64.3
 
90 32 18.8 0 1 2 2 3
9
Smith NikkoNikko Smith
Town & City, MO
7 7
53.3
 
71 37 21.6 0 1 5 1 0
10
Sierra JessicaJessica Sierra
Tampa, FL
6 6
55.2
 
73 35 19.2 0 1 2 3 0
11
Gordon MikalahMikalah Gordon
Las Vegas, NV
5 5
26.0
 
61 7 18.6 2 2 0 1 0
12
Cardinale LindseyLindsey Cardinale
Ponchatoula, LA
4 4
35.3
 
43 15 18.3 1 0 3 0 0
Place Name / Hometown Avg. Rtg. SF FI Solo Lo1 Growth #Ep. B3 SAge FFact RFact
1
Underwood CarrieCarrie Underwood
Checotah, OK
57.1 67.3 55.3 57.1 25.0 -1.49 14 0 24.1 85% 0.20
2
Bice BoBo Bice
Helena, AL
70.9 81.7 68.9 70.9 36.0 -0.94 14 1 24.8 80% 0.45
3
Solomon VonzellVonzell Solomon
Fort Myers, FL
55.6 59.3 54.9 55.6 29.0 -1.38 13 3 26.1 47% 0.88
4
Fedorov AnthonyAnthony Fedorov
Trevose, PA
40.3 45.3 38.9 40.3 11.0 +0.93 12 5 20.9 79% 0.21
5
Savol ScottScott Savol
Shaker Heights, OH
34.0 40.3 31.9 34.0 11.0 -1.38 11 4 25.0 58% 0.92
6
Maroulis ConstantineConstantine Maroulis
New York, NY
51.7 36.0 58.4 51.7 26.0 +2.12 10 1 27.3 70% 0.30
7
Robinson AnwarAnwar Robinson
East Orange, NJ
53.9 76.7 42.5 53.9 24.0 -5.33 9 2 29.6 56% 0.56
8
Turner NadiaNadia Turner
Miami, FL
64.3 73.0 59.0 64.3 32.0 -4.67 8 3 27.3 88% 0.13
9
Smith NikkoNikko Smith
Town & City, MO
53.3 60.0 48.3 53.3 37.0 -2.43 7 1 28.1 100% 0.00
10
Sierra JessicaJessica Sierra
Tampa, FL
55.2 61.0 49.3 55.2 35.0 -1.74 6 2 21.2 50% 0.67
11
Gordon MikalahMikalah Gordon
Las Vegas, NV
26.0 37.7 8.5 26.0 7.0 -9.50 5 2 38.8 40% 0.80
12
Cardinale LindseyLindsey Cardinale
Ponchatoula, LA
35.3 42.0 15.0 35.3 15.0 -7.70 4 1 15.5 50% 0.75
Place Name / Hometown Avg. Rtg. HTH W L T Pct Strk Solo
1
Underwood CarrieCarrie Underwood
Checotah, OK
57.1 23 13 9 1 0.587 8 8
2
Bice BoBo Bice
Helena, AL
70.9 27 22 5 0 0.815 9 9
3
Solomon VonzellVonzell Solomon
Fort Myers, FL
55.6 36 25 11 0 0.694 6 6
4
Fedorov AnthonyAnthony Fedorov
Trevose, PA
40.3 13 7 6 0 0.538 2 2
5
Savol ScottScott Savol
Shaker Heights, OH
34.0 23 10 11 2 0.478 2 2
6
Maroulis ConstantineConstantine Maroulis
New York, NY
51.7 16 9 6 1 0.594 4 4
7
Robinson AnwarAnwar Robinson
East Orange, NJ
53.9 19 10 9 0 0.526 4 4
8
Turner NadiaNadia Turner
Miami, FL
64.3 12 7 5 0 0.583 4 4
9
Smith NikkoNikko Smith
Town & City, MO
53.3 10 5 5 0 0.500 3 3
10
Sierra JessicaJessica Sierra
Tampa, FL
55.2 14 9 4 1 0.679 2 2
11
Gordon MikalahMikalah Gordon
Las Vegas, NV
26.0 10 2 8 0 0.200 1 1
12
Cardinale LindseyLindsey Cardinale
Ponchatoula, LA
35.3 9 4 5 0 0.444 0 0
Semifinalists
Place Name / Hometown #Ep #Pf. Average Rating Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
200 SF
Avila AmandaAmanda Avila
Las Vegas, NV
3 3
41.7
 
53 36 18.3 0 2 1 0 0
200 SF
Brown DavidDavid Brown
New Orleans, LA
2 2
25.5
 
35 16 16.0 1 1 0 0 0
200 SF
Castine JanayJanay Castine
Lawrenceville, GA
3 3
10.0
 
13 7 14.3 3 0 0 0 0
200 SF
Harris JuddJudd Harris
New York City, NY
1 1
50.0
 
50 50 26.0 0 0 1 0 0
200 SF
Lira MelindaMelinda Lira
Hanford, CA
1 1
30.0
 
30 30 20.0 0 1 0 0 0
200 SF
Mather SarahSarah Mather
Wilmington, NC
1 1
32.0
 
32 32 24.0 0 1 0 0 0
200 SF
Mischeaux AlohaAloha Mischeaux
St. Louis, IL
2 2
48.0
 
72 24 20.0 0 1 0 1 0
200 SF
Murena JosephJoseph Murena
Smithtown, NY
2 2
40.5
 
42 39 23.0 0 1 1 0 0
200 SF
Rae CelenaCelena Rae
Ft. Worth, TX
2 2
25.5
 
31 20 19.0 0 2 0 0 0
200 SF
Tucker TravisTravis Tucker
Manassas, VA
3 3
30.3
 
45 16 15.7 1 1 1 0 0
200 SF
Vasquez MarioMario Vasquez
The Bronx, NY
3 3
59.3
 
64 55 20.3 0 0 2 1 0
200 SF
Yates JaredJared Yates
Danville, IL
1 1
19.0
 
19 19 19.0 1 0 0 0 0
Place Name / Hometown Avg. Rtg. SF FI Solo Lo1 Growth #Ep. B3 SAge FFact RFact
200 SF
Avila AmandaAmanda Avila
Las Vegas, NV
41.7 41.7 n/a 41.7 36.0 n/a 3 0 29.0 33% 1.67
200 SF
Brown DavidDavid Brown
New Orleans, LA
25.5 25.5 n/a 25.5 16.0 n/a 2 0 33.0 50% 0.50
200 SF
Castine JanayJanay Castine
Lawrenceville, GA
10.0 10.0 n/a 10.0 7.0 n/a 3 0 6.7 100% 0.00
200 SF
Harris JuddJudd Harris
New York City, NY
50.0 50.0 n/a 50.0 50.0 n/a 1 0 35.0 100% 0.00
200 SF
Lira MelindaMelinda Lira
Hanford, CA
30.0 30.0 n/a 30.0 30.0 n/a 1 0 11.0 0% 2.00
200 SF
Mather SarahSarah Mather
Wilmington, NC
32.0 32.0 n/a 32.0 32.0 n/a 1 0 39.0 100% 0.00
200 SF
Mischeaux AlohaAloha Mischeaux
St. Louis, IL
48.0 48.0 n/a 48.0 24.0 n/a 2 0 2.5 100% 0.00
200 SF
Murena JosephJoseph Murena
Smithtown, NY
40.5 40.5 n/a 40.5 39.0 n/a 2 0 27.5 0% 2.50
200 SF
Rae CelenaCelena Rae
Ft. Worth, TX
25.5 25.5 n/a 25.5 20.0 n/a 2 0 4.5 100% 0.00
200 SF
Tucker TravisTravis Tucker
Manassas, VA
30.3 30.3 n/a 30.3 16.0 n/a 3 0 25.0 67% 0.67
200 SF
Vasquez MarioMario Vasquez
The Bronx, NY
59.3 59.3 n/a 59.3 55.0 n/a 3 0 30.7 67% 0.33
200 SF
Yates JaredJared Yates
Danville, IL
19.0 19.0 n/a 19.0 19.0 n/a 1 0 6.0 100% 0.00
Place Name / Hometown Avg. Rtg. HTH W L T Pct Strk Solo
200 SF
Avila AmandaAmanda Avila
Las Vegas, NV
41.7 10 4 6 0 0.400 1 1
200 SF
Brown DavidDavid Brown
New Orleans, LA
25.5 6 1 5 0 0.167 0 0
200 SF
Castine JanayJanay Castine
Lawrenceville, GA
10.0 0 0 0 0 n/a 0 0
200 SF
Harris JuddJudd Harris
New York City, NY
50.0 1 1 0 0 1.000 1 1
200 SF
Lira MelindaMelinda Lira
Hanford, CA
30.0 4 0 4 0 0.000 0 0
200 SF
Mather SarahSarah Mather
Wilmington, NC
32.0 1 0 1 0 0.000 0 0
200 SF
Mischeaux AlohaAloha Mischeaux
St. Louis, IL
48.0 1 1 0 0 1.000 1 1
200 SF
Murena JosephJoseph Murena
Smithtown, NY
40.5 8 4 4 0 0.500 0 0
200 SF
Rae CelenaCelena Rae
Ft. Worth, TX
25.5 1 0 1 0 0.000 0 0
200 SF
Tucker TravisTravis Tucker
Manassas, VA
30.3 3 2 1 0 0.667 0 0
200 SF
Vasquez MarioMario Vasquez
The Bronx, NY
59.3 3 1 2 0 0.333 3 3
200 SF
Yates JaredJared Yates
Danville, IL
19.0 0 0 0 0 n/a 0 0

[back to top] Episodes

Pre-finals
Date Episode / Theme #Cn. #Pf. Average Rating Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
38404 Feb 21, 2005
Open
12 12
48.0
 
84 19 19.5 1 4 4 2 1
38405 Feb 22, 2005
Open
12 12
46.7
 
87 13 18.8 1 5 2 2 2
38411 Feb 28, 2005
Open
10 10
51.1
 
90 16 21.2 1 2 4 2 1
38412 Mar 1, 2005
Open
10 10
44.5
 
68 10 21.3 1 2 5 2 0
38418 Mar 7, 2005
Open
8 8
50.4
 
85 16 17.6 1 2 3 1 1
38419 Mar 8, 2005
Open
8 8
47.5
 
80 7 16.4 1 2 2 2 1
Date Episode / Theme Avg. Rtg. Solo SR In SR Out CR XFact SAge FFact RFact
38404 Feb 21, 2005
Open
48.0 48.0 n/a 48.0 48.0 n/a 24.7 75% 0.50
38405 Feb 22, 2005
Open
46.7 46.7 48.0 47.3 46.7 n/a 18.0 67% 0.75
38411 Feb 28, 2005
Open
51.1 51.1 47.3 48.4 50.9 +0.40 30.5 70% 0.50
38412 Mar 1, 2005
Open
44.5 44.5 48.4 47.5 47.2 -5.30 19.3 70% 0.50
38418 Mar 7, 2005
Open
50.4 50.4 47.5 48.0 53.7 -5.00 26.0 50% 0.88
38419 Mar 8, 2005
Open
47.5 47.5 48.0 47.9 49.0 -2.25 25.9 63% 0.50
Finals
Date Episode / Theme #Cn. #Pf. Average Rating Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
38426 Mar 15, 2005
1960s
12 12
48.7
 
90 10 18.1 2 1 6 1 2
38433 Mar 22, 2005
Billboard #1 Hits
11 11
52.9
 
89 7 19.8 1 1 5 3 1
38440 Mar 29, 2005
1990s
10 10
48.6
 
83 12 18.4 1 3 2 3 1
38447 Apr 5, 2005
Classic Musicals
9 9
47.7
 
71 11 16.1 2 1 2 4 0
38454 Apr 12, 2005
Year You Were Born
8 8
51.4
 
90 19 20.6 1 1 4 1 1
38461 Apr 19, 2005
1970s Dance Music
7 7
50.7
 
88 34 22.3 0 3 2 1 1
38468 Apr 26, 2005
2000s
6 6
49.5
 
82 17 19.3 1 1 2 1 1
38475 May 3, 2005
Lieber & Stoller / This Week
5 10
52.8
 
89 13 18.8 1 2 3 2 2
38482 May 10, 2005
Country / Gamble & Huff
4 8
55.6
 
80 25 20.1 0 2 1 4 1
38489 May 17, 2005
Idol's / Clive's / Judge's
3 9
58.1
 
94 33 16.0 0 1 5 1 2
38496 May 24, 2005
Finale
2 6
47.8
 
70 30 12.0 0 2 3 1 0
Date Episode / Theme Avg. Rtg. Solo SR In SR Out CR XFact SAge FFact RFact
38426 Mar 15, 2005
1960s
48.7 48.7 47.9 48.0 54.7 -8.03 37.2 50% 0.83
38433 Mar 22, 2005
Billboard #1 Hits
52.9 52.9 48.0 48.7 55.7 -3.55 21.5 64% 0.55
38440 Mar 29, 2005
1990s
48.6 48.6 48.7 48.7 57.0 -10.12 10.7 50% 0.80
38447 Apr 5, 2005
Classic Musicals
47.7 47.7 48.7 48.6 55.9 -9.57 45.0 100% 0.00
38454 Apr 12, 2005
Year You Were Born
51.4 51.4 48.6 48.8 55.6 -4.82 26.0 88% 0.13
38461 Apr 19, 2005
1970s Dance Music
50.7 50.7 48.8 48.9 54.0 -3.64 30.9 57% 0.57
38468 Apr 26, 2005
2000s
49.5 49.5 48.9 48.9 53.5 -4.46 3.7 83% 0.17
38475 May 3, 2005
Lieber & Stoller / This Week
52.8 52.8 48.9 49.2 53.7 -1.08 24.3 100% 0.00
38482 May 10, 2005
Country / Gamble & Huff
55.6 55.6 49.2 49.6 58.2 -3.00 18.6 63% 0.50
38489 May 17, 2005
Idol's / Clive's / Judge's
58.1 58.1 49.6 50.1 63.1 -6.06 27.6 67% 0.78
38496 May 24, 2005
Finale
47.8 47.8 50.1 50.0 66.8 -18.99 n/a 67% 0.50

[back to top] Ratings Distribution

Total of 156 performances
  2
 
13
 
9
 
26
 
25
 
30
 
19
 
14
 
14
 
4
 
 
  9- 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89 90+  

[back to top] Top Performances

Highest-Rated Performances
Highest-Rated Performances
1
In A Dream0001In A Dream
94
 
2
Whipping Post0001Whipping Post
90
 
You Dont Have To Say You Love Me0001You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
90
 
Bohemian Rhapsody0001Bohemian Rhapsody
90
 
5
Alone0001Alone
89
 
Stand By Me0001Stand By Me
89
 
7
Vehicle0001Vehicle
88
 
8
Could've Been0001Could've Been
87
 
9
What A Wonderful World0001What A Wonderful World
85
 
10
Drift Away0001Drift Away
84
 
Power Of Love 10001The Power Of Love
84
 
Spinning Wheel0001Spinning Wheel
84
 
Lowest-Rated Performances
Lowest-Rated Performances
1
Dreaming Of You0001Dreaming Of You
7
 
Love Will Lead You Back0001Love Will Lead You Back
7
 
3
Hit Em Up Style Oops0001Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)
10
 
Son Of A Preacher Man0001Son Of A Preacher Man
10
 
5
Impossible Dream0001The Impossible Dream
11
 
Climb Evry Mountain0001Climb Ev'ry Mountain
11
 
7
One Last Cry0001One Last Cry
12
 
8
I Wanna Love You Forever0001I Wanna Love You Forever
13
 
Poison Ivy0001Poison Ivy
13
 
10
Knock On Wood0001Knock On Wood
15
 

[back to top] Summary

By American Idol's dubious standards, Season Four was relatively free of the controversies and media firestorms that plagued (or spiced up, if you prefer) all seasons before and since.  But that doesn't mean the Idolsphere was one big happy family in 2005.  One prominent Internet music critic praised the twelve finalists as being the finest set of pure vocalists that the producers had ever assembled.  Another felt the Final 12 were so incompetent as a group that, halfway into the season, he abruptly announced that Idol was no longer worth watching and shut down his blog permanently!  AI4 has the highest average standard deviation in our database, representing the often intense differences of opinion among reviewers all season long.  Ah well, that's why they make chocolate and vanilla...and black cherry and pistachio and fudge ripple, too.

Responding to criticism that past Semifinals featured too many contestants singing far too infrequently (five full weeks elapsed between Fantasia Barrino's and Diana DeGarmo's first and second performances in AI3), and also to eliminate the possibility of a serious gender gap among finalists, Idol introduced a radically revised competition format in AI4.  Instead of 32 semifinalists coming out of Hollywood, there were now just 24.  The 12 guys and 12 girls competed in parallel sing-offs for the first three rounds, with two members of each group sent home per week.  This not only produced a chromosomally-balanced Final 12, it also eliminated one of the more annoying irritations of the previous two seasons: the judges' annual case of genetic hearing loss when it came time to choose Wild Card advancers.

Perhaps the sign said 'long-haired freaky people need not apply' outside the AI audition halls in previous years, but not in Season Four:  New York City rocker Constantine Maroulis had been featured prominently in the weeks leading up to the competition.  But he was upstaged in the Top 24 (Guys)' round by an even longer-haired rocker, Alabama's Bo Bice, whose cover of Drift Away became the season's first 5-star performance.  On the Girls' side, another contestant with a rock & roll edge, Miami's Nadia Turner, took The Power Of Love (it's not the one you're thinking of) to an excellent 86 rating.  But she was upstaged ever so slightly by the pride of Checotah, OK, Carrie Underwood, whose Could've Been came in at 88.  Underwood's powerful voice and girl-next-door looks made her an early favorite across the Idolsphere.

In the Top 20 (Guys) episode, New Jersey music teacher Anwar Robinson and St. Louis's Nikko Smith, the son of baseball legend Ozzie, each turned in solid 4-star performances.  But it was Bice again who stole the show: he picked up the microphone (with the stand still attached) and growled a magnificent cover of The Allman Brothers' blues-rock classic Whipping Post, earning a 92 rating from our Web reviewers.  The Top 20 (Girls) didn't fare nearly as well; their 44.2 average rating was the season's nadir, with only Jessica Sierra and Mikalah Gordon even reaching the 60s.

In the Guys' next round, Robinson clinched a spot in the Final 12 with a heartfelt rendition of What A Wonderful World; from the Idolsphere, it got a smart 86(Pun? What pun?)  Also advancing to the finals were Bice, Maroulis, Scott Savol, Anthony Fedorov, and Bronx crooner Mario Vazquez.  The latter was considered by many professional music critics and vocal experts as the one to beat among the Guys, even if his approval ratings from the Idolsphere, though good, didn't quite live up to his press clippings.  On the distaff side, Turner notched her second 5-star performance before Sierra closed the Top 16 (Girls) show with a rollicking cover of Boys Are Back In Town (again, not the one you're thinking of) that...how to put this?...possibly set several American Idol records, none of which pertained to singing.  Miraculously avoiding a wardrobe malfunction, Sierra made it to the Final 12, rounded out by Turner, Underwood, Gordon, Vonzell Solomon, and Lindsey Cardinale.

A few days later, Idol fans saw a stunner of a story come over the news wire.  Citing "personal reasons" which have never been fully disclosed, Vazquez suddenly dropped out of the competition.  Smith, the first alternate among the men, took his place in the finals and had less than 48 hours to prepare a performance for the Tuesday night episode.  Fittingly choosing I Want You Back, and with an understanding America having his back as well, Smith advanced on 1960s Week while Cardinale was sent home following a disastrous attempt at Knock On Wood.  Back-to-back showstoppers highlighted the evening: Turner's You Don't Have To Say You Love Me at 92, and Bice's Spinning Wheel at 86.  For both, it was their third 5-star performance in four tries.

There were plenty of snickers across TV Land during Billboard #1 Hits Week when the sugar-sweet Underwood took the stage decked in leather and curls to perform Heart's Alone...but the snickers stopped the moment she began to sing.  At 90, "Alone" was Underwood's highest-rated performance (though, curiously, it was her last to reach the 5-star plateau.)  Turner, meanwhile, found herself shockingly in the Bottom 3 when her ska cover of Time After Time, complete with 'Fro-hawk, left America nonplussed.  Perhaps fortunately for Turner, Gordon immediately followed "Time" with the season's lowest-rated performance, a 5 for Love Will Lead You Back, which only led the sassy 17-year-old back to Las Vegas.

Sierra was next to depart, on 1990s Week, in which Solomon was the star.  The personable Florida mail carrier earned her sole 5-star rating with the Idol standard I Have Nothing.  Nobody came close to 5-stars on Classic Musicals Week; the Idolsphere even saddled the popular Bice with a below-average rating.  Savol and Fedorov had the roughest time of it, though, as they took The Impossible Dream and Climb Ev'ry Mountain to 9 and 10 ratings, respectively.  When there are two obvious train wrecks on the same night, and those contestants' fanbases are dialing feverishly to ensure that the other goes home, woe be to you if you had the third-least liked performance.  Smith was the poor sap who did, and out he predictably went.

Early favorite Maroulis had been puttering along for weeks, never hitting the Bottom 3 but never rating above 70 or below 25, either.  Deciding perhaps that a major roll of the dice was called for, he closed The Year You Were Born Week with Queen's epic Bohemian Rhapsody...and, to the delight of his fans and the astonishment of Simon Cowell and much of the Idolsphere, he somehow pulled it off, receiving the season's third 92 rating.  Meanwhile, Savol's struggles continued when She's Gone made him the first finalist ever to suffer three consecutive 1-star performances.  Joining him in the Bottom 3 – can this be right? – were none other than Bice and Turner, and when Savol was sent back to safety first, a shocked America realized one of the front-runners would be leaving.  It was Turner.

1970s Dance Music Week saw a few theme-questionable song choices slip past the producers.  But if America minded, it wasn't evident in the ratings: all seven performances scored above 30, led by Bice's Vehicle at 90.  For Bice, it would be the start of the most relentless run of 5-star performances in Idol history; for Robinson, it was the end of the road.  Savol had another 1-star slip during 2000s Week, closing the show with a heartfelt but off-tune Dance With My Father.  He escaped elimination yet again when America instead voted surprisingly to send off Maroulis, despite it being his first trip to the Bottom 3.  Though it might not have quite reached the fever-pitch levels of AI3, much of the Idolsphere expressed intense outrage at Maroulis's departure and Savol's continued survival.

Next, the Final 5 - Bice, Fedorov, Savol, Solomon, and Underwood - sang one song by Lieber & Stoller plus one on the current Billboard charts.  Bice turned in two more 5-star performances, led by Stand By Me at 91, while Underwood notched a pair at 4-stars.  Savol answered his critics by tallying his first above-average rating in six weeks with On Broadway, perhaps satisfying his fans enough that they finally allowed him to go home.

The Final 4 Show featured one Country song (Underwood, not surprisingly, was highest-rated there) and one by Philly soul legends Gamble & Huff.  For The Love Of Money became Bice's fifth 5-star performance in six outings, while the struggling Fedorov foolishly chose the same song as the gifted Underwood, If You Don't Know Me By Now.  It came as no surprise that one outscored the other by almost 40 points...unless you expected the victor to be a pretty blonde vegetarian from Oklahoma, that is.  Alas, Fedorov had only 24 hours to savor the most unexpected head-to-head triumph in Idol memory; the voters sent him home the next night.

A Bice vs. Underwood Finale seemed a foregone conclusion, though to get there they'd have to get by the pesky and remarkably consistent Solomon in the Final 3.  Underwood's fine rendition of Crying helped offset her show-ending Man! I Feel Like A Woman, a lackluster bit of Shania karaoke (oh, the irony!)  Bice, meanwhile, earned an 82 with Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, but his string of seven 5-star ratings in eight tries was shortly snapped with a very much so-so (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.  In between those two was nothing special...just the second-highest-rated performance in the WNTS.com database to date.  Bice told the band to enjoy an extra-long commercial break, darkened the house lights, and delivered a goosebump-raising a cappella rendition of Badlands' little-known ballad In A Dream96 tears were shed by a visibly emotional Solomon, the likable Everywoman, who recognized that her two competitors' huge fanbases meant it was the end of her Idol journey.

Whoever chose the Idols' original songs for the AI4 Finale hopefully spent most of the next day on Monster.com.  Despite having no less than Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice at the mic, none of the four "singles" performances scored 50 or higher.  Reviewers markedly preferred Bice's version of Inside Your Heaven to Underwood's, despite dozens of blistering comments about the song's inappropriateness, on a multitude of levels, for a male singer.  Yet, in an odd sense, "Heaven" have have tipped the balance in the Idolsphere' mind: many reviewers expressed a combination of horror at Bice being forced to release a winners' album of ten "Heaven"s, plus a general (if sometimes grudging) sentiment that, whatever stage presence she may have lacked at the time, an enormous amount of untapped potential was locked in Underwood's brilliant singing voice.  And, given what Carrie Underwood has accomplished professionally in the short time since she was crowned the fourth American Idol, the voters should take a bow.

What We Thought

Season Four has a special place in our hearts because it saw the birth of Project WNTS.  The song choices throughout ranged from ill-judged to appalling to exasperating, none moreso than Turner's disastrous final one and all four of those by the tonally-superb but strategically-challenged Cardinale.  (For those interested in such trivia, it was the latter's selection of I Don't Want To Miss A Thing that marked our start.  We not only decided on the website but even the name WhatNotToSing.com before she had reached the first chorus.)

The only real controversy of AI4 was the overlong run of Savol, and in hindsight all the hullabaloo seems quaint, doesn't it?  Savol seemed to run into some sort of Singers' Block, if such an affliction exists, along about Week 10.  Many in the Idolsphere attributed his survival to sinister forces inside and outside Idol.  While we know we're unlikely to change any minds, few people have read more words written by more different AI fans in more places than we have, and we can tell you that only one of his advancements – the one following I Can't Help Myself way back in the Round of 16 – came as even a mild surprise to us.  Rumors of a Vast Worst-Voting Conspiracy are entertaining at some level, and there are times when the producers are at their most cloyingly manipulative that we almost wish it were true.  But every piece of hard evidence we've collected says that it's not.

Despite his passionate fanbase and the huge success of "BoRhap", Maroulis had no realistic chance advancing much further than he actually did.  He and Bice were what we term natural competitors, and the Idolsphere's writings made clear that Bice had won that battle quite handily.  (See the AI3 summary for more on the subject of natural competitors.)

It's impossible to argue with "In A Dream" as the top performance of AI4, but Turner's "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", even at 92, is one of the more underappreciated gems in Idol lore.  Of course, we felt that one female contestant's numbers were considerably underrated all season long.  Underwood?  Nah – the superstar we know today wasn't the same young college girl we saw on Idol (though we think Bless The Broken Road deserved much better than 68.)  We were referring to Solomon.

Finally, and with all due respect to Messrs C. Aiken and R. Studdard, Underwood-vs.-Bice remains our favorite down-to-the-wire Idol battle.  Bice's song choices were usually intelligent (Free Bird notwithstanding, unless he thought he was playing Guitar Hero), and his delivery and presentation were as consistently professional as any Idol's in any season.  In contrast, the greener Underwood oftentimes came off as dry and mechanical on stage, and she made a number of highly questionable song selections (MacArthur Park?!), but the girl could, and still can, absolutely sing the lights out.  Bice was the superior performer over the course of the season, but Underwood was the rightful winner.  Funny show, Idol.

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