New ‘American Idol’ crowned

Show tallied 63.4 million votes

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Hicks, the mop-topped manic dancer who wooed TV audiences with his raw singing style and boisterous personality, was named the new “American Idol” Wednesday.

Hicks, 29, of Birmingham, Ala., became the latest in a string of Southern and Midwestern contestants to win the Fox talent contest and a record contract. In a final viewer voting poll he bested runner-up Katharine McPhee, 22, of Los Angeles.

“Soul Patrol!” Hicks shouted, acknowledging his avid fans by their nickname.

Hicks, whose thatch of prematurely gray hair made him a contest standout, seemed a longshot winner at his first audition after judge Simon Cowell gave him a thumbs-down and predicted that he didn’t have a chance of advancing to the finals.

McPhee and Hicks weren’t as odd a finals pairing as second-season finalists Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, but close.

McPhee attended the prestigious Boston Conservatory for a semester; Hicks has been a fixture on honky-tonk stages. McPhee skillfully played to the cameras, all calculated seduction; Hicks stomped across the set, with Cowell comparing him to a drunken dad at a wedding.

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