Phew! Talk about a nation divided. Last night America had to make the tough choice between a pair of sweet Southerners with killer sets of pipes. After two hours of grueling suspense, we learned Bo Bice, the soulful 29-year-old rocker from Alabama, had triumphed over Carrie Underwood, the bright-eyed 21-year-old from Oklahoma. [ALTERNATE TEXT: Carrie Underwood, the bright-eyed 21-year-old from Oklahoma, had triumphed over Bo Bice, the soulful 29-year-old rocker from Alabama.]All season long, TVGuide.com has brought you expert commentary from Kimberly Caldwell and Rosanna Tavarez, the sassy hostesses of TV Guide Channel's Idol Chat. Here's their take on Bo and Carrie's final showdown, as well as this week's weird song selections.
TVGuide.com: How do you feel about Bo's win?
Kimberly Caldwell: It's finally time that a rocker takes over American Idol. I think he's possibly going to be the biggest Idol ever.
Rosanna Tavarez: I wasn't a fan of Bo in the beginning, but I'm really a fan of his now. The word "authentic" always comes to mind. When he goes to record an album, that's really going to come across. He's just so humble, and not in a contrived way. That really appeals to people, so I'm really glad that he won.
ALTERNATE TEXT FOR FIRST QUESTION: TVGuide.com: How do you feel about Carrie's win?
Kimberly Caldwell: I think she has one of the best vocals out of anyone who's ever been on American Idol. She deserves everything that comes to her.
Rosanna Tavarez: I'm not surprised Carrie won. She definitely has a huge fan base. Farm Girl's got her peeps! Even if she hadn't won, I think she would have done amazingly as a country singer. And I think she'll have longevity, because people who listen to country are a lot more committed to being a fan of the music. They don't just change from pop to rock to some other genre.
TVG: Before AI viewers made their final vote on Tuesday, how did Bo perform?
Rosanna: On an emotional level, in terms of delivery, I felt Bo did a better job. His heart was really in it.
Kimberly: I feel like Bo didn't give 100 percent for "The Long, Long Road." I didn't know if it was his nerves or he was just not having a good [day]. I just feel like he wasn't really Bo on that song. The second song that he did, "Vehicle," he was back to the old Bo. And he looked great during that song as well. I think he did a really amazing job with "I Want to Be Inside Your Heaven," and he gave it his all.
TVG: What did you think of Carrie's performances on Tuesday?
Kimberly: Carrie was really pitchy and uneasy on her first song, and just like Simon said, Bo had the first round hands-down. They both did a great job on the second song, but the first song was just, "I've got to get this out of the way." After her third song, Randy gave Carrie a standing ovation, which definitely said something. Simon said he thought Carrie did enough to win, and I think she did.
Rosanna: I felt like Carrie was in her head; she was a bit strained. I think her emotions were messing up her voice a bit. But overall, they both did a really good job. It's sometimes a little hard to compare them because they're so different. Their voices are so stylistically different.
TVG: You've both performed in front of huge audiences. What do you imagine it was like for Bo and Carrie to sing in Hollywood's Kodak Theatre for the first time?
Rosanna: In front of that many people, it all depends. I did stadiums because Eden's Crush opened up for 'N Sync, so there were like 50,000 people every night. For me, because it was just a sea of heads, the anonymity was OK for me. I was watching Britney Spears' [UPN show] Chaotic, and she said, "When I perform in front of thousands of people, it's not a big deal. When it gets intimate, I get nervous." I'm the same way. If I have a whole bunch of people in front of me, it's fine. But the difference for Bo and Carrie is that their families are there, so it is intimate. You're in the finals and people are rooting for you; it becomes a really emotional affair.
Kimberly: I think they both did a really great job, considering the circumstances. You can tell they were definitely both nervous. This is a huge opportunity. At the same time, I think they both know that, more than likely, they're going to be signed and be very successful when they put out albums.
TVG: What new challenges did they face in learning two original songs apiece?
Kimberly: Learning a new song is really difficult because you don't know the vibe. But the good thing is that you don't know what kind of vibe it is, so you can take it on as your own, instead of just mimicking someone on the radio. At the same time, it's really hard because you don't have the audience jamming with you and they can't recognize where you're coming from.
Rosanna: To learn a new song, the challenges are remembering all the lyrics and really internalizing them so that it isn't just a mechanical performance — you're really delivering the message of the song.
TVG: But really, what's up with those weepy ballads Idol wrote for them?
Rosanna: I have to agree with Simon and Randy that the songs were kind of weak. I don't want to get too controversial, but they were very spiritual [with references to] "heaven" and "angels." It was weird. Why are we invoking God so much? They're going to have to make very specific arrangements of the new songs [to suit the winner]. The way they sound now is very ballad-y pop. And maybe change the lyrics. The songs don't have the message of what it's like to win a competition like Idol.