Predicting the next "American Idol" winner became an all-encompassing pastime for many TV viewers this season. After Tuesday night's performances, anxious searchers jumped the gun, generating spikes on "dial idol predictions," "dial idol results," and "who won american idol." By 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, searches for "american idol winner" and "who won american idol" flooded the Buzz. And those who figured Taylor Hicks was about to be crowned the newest Idol swamped Search looking for "soul patrol" and "taylor hicks pictures."
Taylor's triumph was predicted based on the Buzz after last week's performances. His popularity among women aged 30 to 54 and his strong regional base of voters in the South helped him clinch it. Taylor's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, led the list of metros searching on the show, but the only city west of the Mississippi to make the top 20 metro list was "Idol"-crazed Honolulu.
Runner-up Katharine McPhee shouldn't sob into the steering wheel of her new Ford. She's established herself as a favorite of the men, traditionally a tough audience to reach through "Idol." Her comely curves and radiant smile won the guys over, and they accounted for two-thirds of searches on the cute Californian. Plenty of lookups were of the prurient variety, as drooling dudes sought pictures of her in a very memorable yellow dress. Will she vamp up her image to appeal to her established male following or turn them off with sappy ballads? Buzz will be watching.
Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken made a victorious return to the "Idol" stage, sporting a new look that helped him pull in more buzz than last year's champ Carrie Underwood. And a surprise appearance by Prince stirred up searches on the funk legend—precisely the point. Gotta love the "Idol" publicity machine.