Even though I don’t care, I still wanted her to win.

Carrie Underwood Wins ‘Idol’ Contest
LOS ANGELES – Carrie Underwood, the country sweetheart who beguiled national television audiences with her strong voice and bright smile, is this year’s “American Idol,” defeating Southern rocker Bo Bice in the show’s finale Wednesday night.
The Oklahoma native received more viewer votes than runner-up Bice, of Alabama, after Tuesday’s final round, snaring the title and a record contract.
A tearful Underwood choked out a brief “thank you,” then spoke with a song. She reprised “Inside Your Heaven,” which both she and Bice performed in Tuesday’s final round. The judges thought Bice outsang her; the voting audience obviously disagreed.
A 22-year-old college senior, Underwood became the talk of her hometown of Checotah √≥ and the choice of fourth-season “Idol” voters √≥ as she delivered almost uniformly consistent performances each week.
“She has more of the star quality,” said Cindy Monteleone of Chicago, who was among hundreds of people who dropped by the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood to watch former “American Idol” contestants arrive for the show’s taping.
Underwood couldn’t compete with rock ‘n’ roller Bice on his style of music (“I’m not sure I’m loving the rocked-out Carrie,” judge Randy Jackson said after one attempt) but shone in her favorite genre, country.
Friends and family describe Underwood as a polite, quiet, small-town girl who is dedicated to music.
Bice, 29, of Helena, Ala., would have been the oldest “Idol” winner. He brought an unexpected rock edge to the show’s usually mainstream pop style, shining on songs such as the 1970s hit “Vehicle.”
“He’s just so sincere and he projects that,” fan Donna Leoni, who was pulling for Bice, said outside the theater.
The live two-hour finale was padded by clips from throughout the season, interviews with the judges and the finalists, and concert and product plugs (the finalists received gift cars, which were featured in a big-screen video close-up).
There were also, finally, songs. A series of duets featuring the top 12 finishers and guest artists included Anthony Fedorov and Anwar Robinson performing with Kenny G; Scott Savol and Nico Smith with George Benson; and Vonzell Solomon with Billy Preston.
During the season, although onstage performances were unaffected, an offstage drama played out involving judge Paula Abdul and former contestant Corey Clark.
Clark claimed he and Abdul had an affair while he was competing in 2003 and that she coached him on how to do better on the show. Abdul has called the allegations “lies” and an attempt at character assassination.
In a bit of hard-edged comedy Wednesday, “Idol” fired back at ABC News’ recent “Primetime Live” detailing Clark’s claims. TV newsman Steve Edwards presented a satirical report, “Bad Judgment,” which purported to reveal Cowell’s “secret relationship” (the punch line: it was Cowell’s love affair with himself).
“We won’t let the truth get in the way of our ratings,” the faux report said in an obvious dig at ABC, although the network and the Abdul controversy weren’t specifically mentioned.
“American Idol” thrives on controversy, with disgruntled fans complaining over the years about overloaded phone lines, technical glitches and untalented contestants with amazing survival skills.
Viewership didn’t suffer from Clark’s claims: “American Idol” is the No. 1 series for the season in viewers (as opposed to households), averaging 27.3 million viewers a week. The finale, on the last day of the TV season, could guarantee Fox a first-ever ratings win among viewers age 18 to 49.