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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
America awaits its Idol
American Idol
Justin Guarini (left) and Kelly Clarkson sang three songs
The two remaining singers in talent show American Idol are being kept in suspense following Tuesday's final, with the winner announced on Wednesday night.

Kelly Clarkson, 20 and Justin Guarini, 23, have been chosen from the thousands of singers who took part, with a ready made pop career and a recording contract awaiting the winner.

The final followed a similar format to the UK's Pop Idol, with each contestant singing three songs.

Two of these - Before Your Love and A Moment Like This - were specially written for the show and will appear on a CD to be released by the winner later this month.

Support

Guarini chose Oleta Adams' ballad Get Here for his third song, while Clarkson opted for Aretha Franklin's Respect.

Judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson both expressed their support for Clarkson.
Kelly Clarkson of American Idol
Kelly Clarkson sang Aretha Franklin's Respect

"It makes me proud to be part of the show because you are such a phenomenal talent," Jackson told her on the final.

The final also featured a live performance from Pop Idol winner Will Young.

The show, broadcast on Fox, has matched the success of Pop Idol, becoming the biggest US TV hit of the summer. Last week over 15 million people tuned in to see who would make the final.

Clarkson, from Texas, has performed a range of soul and pop classics like Respect and It's Raining Men in the run-up to the final, and has won support for her powerful voice and wholesome image.

Judge Simon Cowell has told her: "You are the best singer in this competition, it's obvious."

But Guarini, from Pennsylvania, has charmed the audience with his confident and individual renditions of songs like Let's Stay Together and Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me.

Justin Guarini
Justin Guarini chose to sing Get here
f the show follows the pattern of the UK version, the result of the final public vote may be irrelevant in deciding which singer goes on to stardom.

Will Young became the fastest-selling artist of all time with his debut single - but the two runners-up have also had number one hits.

The winner's single will be rushed to the shops for 17 September, with a national tour and compilation CD featuring the last 10 contestants already organised.

Waiting

"The competition part's kind of getting old," Clarkson said on last week's live show.

"We're just waiting, we want to get started with our careers," she said.

According to judge Simon Cowell, the show will have failed if it does not produce "one of the fastest-selling singles of all time".

Wednesday's show will be broadcast live from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars.
Will Young
Will Young performed live on the final

Talent

Auditions for contestants began in April, with Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson picking out the final 30.

Viewers were then given the chance to choose who stayed on the show by voting for their favourites.

Cowell, who rose to fame with his straight-talking on the UK show, has also gained the "Mr Nasty" tag across the Atlantic.

It was Guarini's performance, in an early round, that prompted Cowell to say that the "American talent is probably better than the English talent".

See also:

02 Sep 02 | Entertainment
16 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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28 Jul 02 | Entertainment
14 Jun 02 | Entertainment
12 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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